All about Amaretto

Amaretto is Italy’s best-selling liqueur. Discover its history, some fun facts and serving suggestions for the liqueur.

All about Amaretto

Whether you’re warmed or repelled by the almond taste of Amaretto, you’ll be intrigued by the romantic history of Italy’s most famous  – and bestselling – liqueur.

As far as love stories go, you can’t beat the Amaretto legend. The potent tipple was invented by a widowed innkeeper in Saronno in 1525. After moonlighting as as model for Da Vinci art student Bernardino Luini, who needed a sitter to represent the Virgin Mary in the local church’s frescos (the painting can still be viewed in the chapel of Sante Maria delle Grazie), the lovesick lady created a concotion of brandy and apricot kernels as a symbol of her everlasting devotion.

It’s not known if the relationship fizzled out – the recipe certainly didn’t.

Towards the end of the 18th century, the secret formula (when is it not a secret formula, we ask?) became the property of the Reina family who continues to produce Disaronno ‘Originale’ – an infusion of apricot kernel oil, absolute alcohol, burnt sugar (hence the deep amber colour), and seventeen selected herbs and fruits.

Today, the drink is as famous for its distinctive square bottle as it is for its taste – the bottle was on show at Italian artist Gianmaria Buccellati’s exhibition at the Louvre in 2000, as an object synonymous with the 20th century. If you like its sweet, heady flavour, you’re in good company – iconic fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and actress Sadie Frost are fans. This sexy liqueur even features in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1972 film ‘The Godfather’.

Amaretto facts

  • Contrary to popular belief it’s made from apricot kernels, not almonds
  • Amaretto isn’t the same as amaro, which is another Italian liqueur laced with herbs
  • It can be poured over ice cream or added to desserts, such as our St-Emilion au chocolat torte and Blueberry syllabub trifles

Serving suggestions

  • Mixing Amaretto with coca-cola creates a drink similar to an alcoholic Dr Pepper
  • It’s often served neat, but many prefer it poured over ice, or in black coffee
  • It can added to fresh orange juice to create a long cocktail
  • For an Amaretto sour use 3 parts Amaretto and 1 part sour mix
  • Non-alcoholic amaretto syrup is often added to coffee

Click here to visit the Disaronno website.

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