The spirit of the season

Famous for its sweet, almond-infused spiciness, amaretto – best known by its poster child, Disaronno – is easily one of the most versatile liqueurs. Used in everything from fruity cocktails to creamy martinis and warming tea toddies, a good bottle of amaretto is a liquor cabinet staple for even the entry-level bartender. From sweet to strong to sour and back again, here are a few almond-centric cocktails to sate every palate and occasion.
One of the most well known amaretto drinks is the blueberry tea, a mixture of steeped English breakfast tea and equal parts amaretto and triple sec, ideally Grand Marnier. Strangely, the combination of orange, brandy and almond is reminiscent of blueberry and could serve as a warming solution on cold Sackville nights, especially with the addition of a lemon wedge and a cinnamon stick. If tea isn’t your style, try adding a shot of amaretto and maybe some cream to a cup of fresh coffee for a delicious Italian digestif.
Amaretto also tastes great on the rocks with many base spirits, acting as a nutty sweetener. The classic Godfather, for example, comprises two parts blended Scotch whisky – try Teacher’s, Dewar’s or Black Grouse – to one part amaretto, and is served in lowball glass with a strip of orange zest and a few large ice cubes. Though simple in composition, the syrupy sweetness of the liqueur perfectly balances the peaty smokiness of the whisky, and is a great starting point for those looking to tiptoe into the admittedly intimidating Scotch aisle. This cocktail is also easily interchangeable; switch out Scotch for bourbon to make a Brooklyn Godfather, or if you prefer, use brandy, vodka or even gin.
Echoing last week’s brandy Alexander, amaretto also works well in creamy cocktails. Try making a toasted almond: one ounce each of vodka, Disaronno and cream and half an ounce each of Irish cream and coffee liqueur, all shaken on ice and strained into the glassware of your choice. If budgetary restraints demand that you omit one or two of the liquors in this drink, don’t fret – this dessert-like mixture will taste decadent regardless. Lactose-intolerant folks – or those looking for milk alternatives – can use almond milk in place of cream and still retain the drink’s velvety smoothness. Finally, if you have any coconut rum or crème de cacao on hand, try swapping an ounce of either for the coffee liqueur.
For a fruitier drink to help remind you of warm summer days, try mixing up an Alabama slammer, a classic mix of equal parts amaretto, Southern Comfort and sloe gin topped with orange juice. (The sloe gin can be omitted or substituted for vodka or London dry gin if necessary, as bottles of sloeberry liquor are difficult to procure in Atlantic Canada.) Garnish with a maraschino cherry and a lemon wedge, and sip away at this unique blend of peach, orange and almond—a match made in the orchard.

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