If you aren’t familiar with amaretto, today is the perfect day to get acquainted with the stuff.
Amaretto is a popular almond-flavored liqueur that hails from Saronno, Italy. It is often consumed on the rocks but is also quite nice in a cocktail like the Amaretto Sour (this recipe from Jeffrey Morgenthaler is especially well thought out). It is typically flavored by way of an infusion of almonds, apricot pits, or some combination of the two, which gives the sweet after-dinner drink its signature taste and slightly bitter finish. In fact, amaretto gets its name from the Italian word for bitter–amaro.
In lieu of infusing its liqueur with almonds or apricot pits, one of our favorite amaretto producers, Lazzaroni, does things a little differently but to the same end. Since 1851, the Lazzaroni family has been flavoring their amaretto with their famed Italian amaretti cookies, which they make and sell worldwide from a recipe developed in the eighteenth century. According to legend, in 1718, when the Cardinal of Milan unexpectedly arrived in Saronno, Osolina Lazzaroni quickly baked up a mixture of sugar, ground apricot kernels, and egg whites to honor his visit. In the process, she created a new cookie, which the family began selling commercially under the name “Amaretti di Saronno.”
Like all amaretto liqueurs, Lazzaroni Amaretto tastes of almonds, which means it has a strong affinity for cherries. Ergo, it made perfect sense when the Lazzaroni family added premium candied Amaretto Cherries to its portfolio of goods last September. Like other gourmet cocktail cherries–notably, Luxardo–Lazzaroni Amaretto Cherries are a world apart from the cloying, fire engine red sundae toppers you loved as a kid. Rather, they offer a balanced sweet-tart flavor that enhances myriad cocktails, from Manhattans to Last Words. But unlike Luxardo Cherries, Lazzaroni Cherries are enhanced by the unmistakable flavor of amaretto.
As the first U.S. distributor of Lazzaroni Amaretto Cherries, we here at KegWorks are super excited for Americans to get to know and love this product. Earlier this year, we held a contest asking our social media followers and email subscribers to develop signature cocktail recipes that showcase the cherries, and we were blown away by the submissions! There were so many well crafted drinks, it was difficult to pick a winner.
In the end, though, one cocktail stood out. The Masque of the Red Death–submitted by Kyle Takacs from the State of Washington–is not only Amaretto Cherry-forward (he used them in the drink and as a garnish) but also super refreshing, well balanced, and easy enough for even a novice home bartender to reproduce. We will be drinking them today in honor of National Amaretto Day and all summer long!