Amaretto (Italian for “a little bitter”) is a sweet, almond flavored, Italian liqueur associated with Saronno, Italy. Various commercial brands are made from a base of apricot pits, almonds, or both.
Despite the known history of the introduction and acceptance of almonds into Italian cuisine, newer takes on the meanings and origins have been popularized by the two major brands. Though of sometimes questionable factuality, these tales hold a sentimental place in Saronno culture.
In 1525, a Saronno church commissioned artist Bernardino Luini, one of Leonardo da Vinci’s pupils, to paint their sanctuary with frescoes. As the church was dedicated to the Virgin Mary, Luini needed to depict the Madonna, but was in need of a model. He found his inspiration in a young widowed innkeeper, who became his model and (in most versions) lover. Out of gratitude and affection, the woman wished to give him a gift. Her simple means did not permit much, so she steeped apricot kernels in brandy and presented the resulting concoction to a touched Luini.
Produced by Paolo Lazzaroni, it is based on an infusion of Amaretto di Saronno (macaroons), a process which imparts a “delicate almond/apricot flavour”. Lazzaroni claim the tale of the young couple blessed by the bishop as the origin of their generations-guarded family recipe, dating it to 1718; the amaretto has been in production since 1851. This is the only amaretto liqueur that is made from the infusion of the macaroon cookies, rather than the essence.
Production of this liqueur began in 1900, it claims “originale” as well as “secret formula” that is unchanged since 1525. The background story or legend of this liqueur is true to the Luini tale. The production remains in Saronno , but the product is sold worldwide. The company describes its amaretto as an infusion of “apricot kernal oil” with “absolute alcohol, burnt sugar, and pure essence of 17 selected herbs and fruits”.
French connection: Amaretto liqueur, cognac, ice cubes.
Godfather: Amaretto liqueur, Scotch, ice cubes.
Godmother: Amaretto liqueur, vodka, ice cubes.
Godchild: Amaretto liqueur, Cream, ice cubes.
Hurricane Jenny: Amaretto liqueur, Citrus soda, ice cubes.
Toasted Almond: Amaretto liqueur, Kahlua, cream and ice cubes.
Bocce Ball: Amaretto liqueur, orange juice, club soda, ice cubes.
Cuban Breeze: Amaretto liqueur, vodka, pineapple juice, ice cubes.
Lounge Lizard: Amaretto liqueur, dark rum, cola, ice cubes.
Come by West Vail Liquor Mart and pick up a bottle of Amaretto liqueur to add to your Fall cocktails!