Averna is a popular Italian amaro that’s worth adding to your collection! Here’s more about it and how to use it in cocktails.
Intrigued by Averna, or wondering whether it’s worth adding to your collection? This Italian bittersweet liqueur is trending, and for good reason: it’s absolutely delicious. The sweet caramel notes and hints of anise and honey make it a great candidate for sipping on the rocks: and there are lots of great ways to mix it into cocktails. What is it, and how does it fit into the family of Italian amari? Here’s a quick look at this popular liqueur.
What is Averna?
Averna is a popular Italian amaro or bitter liqueur (amaro means “little bitter” in Italian). It’s thick and dark brown in color, made by infusing roots, herbs, citrus and other botanicals. It was originally made in the 1800’s by Benedictine monks in Italy. In 1868, the secret recipe was gifted to a man named Salvatore Averna, who started manufacturing it in Sicily. It became popular all over Italy, and today is known all over the world.
Gruppo Campari, the company that sells Campari and Aperol (among other liquors), bought Averna in 2014. It is still manufactured in Sicily.
What does Averna taste like?
Amaro Averna is tastes spicy and herbal, with caramel, anise, citrus, and honey notes. On the spectrum of amari from very bitter to very sweet, Averna is somewhere in the middle. It’s an easy to drink amaro, often consumed straight, on the rocks, or in cocktails. It’s similar to dark brown amari like Meletti and Cynar, but has a unique flavor from the proprietary secret recipe.
How much alcohol is in Averna? It is 29% ABV (alcohol by volume), so it has a mid-range alcohol content. Compared to other amari, Averna is on the middle to high end. For example, Aperol is the lowest alcohol at 11% ABV, Cynar is 16.5% ABV, Campari is 24% ABV, and Fernet-Branca is the highest at 40 to 45% ABV (the same level as whiskey, rum, vodka and gin).
Are there any Averna substitutes? Substitute another dark, herbal and sweet amaro. Some good options include Meletti, Nonino (see the Paper Plane) or Amaro Tosolini (see the Brooklyn), or Cynar (see these Cynar cocktails).
Why we like it
Averna is full of intriguing bittersweet caramel flavor, and we’re always up for another amari to add to our collection! We love it in a Black Manhattan, or mixed with soda water. Even better, try the Averna cocktails below.
How much does it cost?
Compared to other liquors, Averna is mid-priced. A 750 ml bottle costs about $30.
Most popular Averna cocktails
Averna is great sipped on straight or on the rocks, or you can mix it up into drinks. Don’t want to follow a recipe? Mix it with soda water to create a make-shift spritzer. Or, check out these favorite Averna cocktails:
One of the top ways to use Averna in cocktails? Make an Averna Spritz! This drink features this popular Italian bitter liqueur in a cocktail that’s bubbly, bittersweet, and absolutely refreshing. Cousin of the ubiquitous Aperol Spritz, using Averna makes it a glowing golden brown and tastes almost like cola, with caramel and herbal notes.
Ingredients: Averna, Prosecco, soda water
The most popular Averna cocktail? The Black Manhattan! This classy drink swaps out sweet vermouth for this special Italian amaro. It’s strong and boozy, like any good Manhattan, but with caramel and chocolate notes on the finish. The one’s one of a kind.
Ingredients: Averna, bourbon or rye whiskey, bitters
Why not try Averna in a Negroni? This intriguing spin features Averna instead of the standard Campari. It makes for a bitter, mellow Negroni that’s more interesting to drink, in our opinion! (In this recipe swap in Averna for its cousin amaro, Cynar.) It's even better than the original.
Ingredients: Amaro, gin, sweet vermouth
If you’re an avid homemade cocktail drinker, then here’s a must-make drink: the Paper Plane! This one is a brilliant study in balance and contrast. It’s bitter, sweet and tangy all at once, hitting a magical synergy between the bourbon and amaro. Swap in Averna for the Amaro Nonino.
Ingredients: Bourbon whiskey, Aperol, Averna, lemon juice
Here's another unique Averna cocktail spin on the Manhattan: the Brooklyn cocktail! The Brooklyn is similarly spirit forward, with a few special twists to add nuance. Maraschino liqueur and dry vermouth add intrigue and round out the flavor in this sophisticated drink. Swap in Averna for the Amaro Tosolini.
Ingredients: Rye whiskey, Dry vermouth, Maraschino liqueur, Averna
Averna Spritz (& More Cocktails!)
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 0 minutes
- Total Time: 5 minutes
- Yield: 1 drink 1x
The classic spritz ratio of 3-2-1 makes a bubbly Averna spritz! It’s a great way to enjoy the bittersweet caramel notes of this Italian amaro.
- 2 ounces* Amaro Averna, chilled
- 3 ounces Prosecco or other sparkling wine, chilled
- 1 ounce soda water
- Ice (try clear ice!)
- For the garnish: lemon wedge, a straw if you like
- Add the amaro to a glass filled with ice and stir. Top with the sparkling wine and soda water.
- Squeeze in the lemon wedge and stir gently, then serve. Serve with a straw to minimize dilution!
*To convert to tablespoons, 1 ounce = 2 tablespoons
- Category: Drink
- Method: Stirred
- Cuisine: Cocktails
- Diet: Vegan
Keywords: Averna, Averna cocktials
More cocktail guides
Need more liquor guides? We’ve got them! Here’s all you need to know about home bartending:
- Absinthe Guide This formerly banned liquor is now in good graces.
- Amaro Montenegro Learn all about this flavorful amaro.
- Aperol Guide and Campari Guide All you need to know about these Italian liqueurs.
- Baileys Guide All the ins and outs of Irish Cream.
- Chartreuse Guide This pale green liqueur is worth adding to your collection…here’s why.
- Cointreau Guide, Blue Curacao Guide, or Orange Liqueur Guide Citrus liqueurs…broken down.
- Galliano Guide Is this bright yellow liqueur worth buying?
- Grenadine Guide It’s mistaken as cherry, but this bright syrup has a secret.
- Fernet Branca Guide Here’s why people love this Italian bitter.
- Kahlua Guide Learn about this popular Mexican coffee liqueur
- Peanut Butter Whiskey Guide All about the uniquely nutty Skrewball
A good substitute for Averna is Ramazzotti.
I am looking for a recipe for what is called Sicilian Coke – Amaro plus unsweetened lemonade plus lemon zest and a sprig of rosemary. It was mentioned in an online article about apertivos in various regions of Italy. Made is sound very famous but can’t find one reference on the web.
That sounds great but I haven’t tried on! I would do 2 oz Amaro, 2 ounce lemon juice and 4 oz soda water. You may need to add some sweetener based on your amaro.