In the world of craft cocktails, amaros are a staple of the bar, usually multiple varieties. In the real world of people’s home bars however, these Italian bitter liqueurs have yet to make as much of an impact.
Amaro Lucano is one of many amaros you may find at your local liquor store. Of the amaros I’ve tried, there tend to be several camps of them. There’s the citrusy, like Aperol and Campari. There’s the cola-esque like Averna. Then there’s the herbal, like Cynar, Fernet Branca or this one, Amaro Lucano.
Lucano is the most similar to Cynar, herbal and spicy, though there are enough differences to set it apart. First, the alcohol level is higher, 28% compared with Cynar’s 16%. Because of the increased alcohol level, and likely because of something in the secret recipe of 30 herbs, Amaro Lucano has an interesting tingle when you sip it. It’s hard to trace the source of that tingle, but everyone who’s tried it has noticed it to varying degrees of enjoyment.
At $30, Amaro Lucano is definitely an enjoyable, herbal amaro. If you love to taste new amaros, and experiment with them in your Negronis, it should certainly be on your list of amaros to try.
Fernet Branca is an Italian liqueur that is nothing short of legendary. People either love it or hate it, but most of what I see is unbridled love. One tweet I saw just said “Fernet Branca…My Religion!!!!#AMEN” Its ingredient list is mysterious, though legend holds that Fernet Branca might contain codeine, echinacea, coca leaves, saffron, ginseng, or my favorite: ground-up fly wings.
Fernet is herbal, minty, syrupy, and finishes pretty dry for a liqueur. It’s 80 proof, which is as strong as a vodka or gin, and mint is by far the most prevalent smell and taste. I’ve been enjoying Fernet and the flavor is unique enough that I want to make sure I keep the home bar stocked with it. Fernet’s legend adds to the fun of the drink, but you should try a glass before you commit to a full bottle, because it’s a very intense herbal experience.
Because of its distinctive flavor, Fernet Branca is typically accompanied by a soda. In Argentina, Fernet and Coke is the rage. In San Francisco, who consumes 25% of all US Fernet Branca, it’s taken as a shot with a ginger ale chaser. I found that Fernet tastes like Fernet regardless of it’s mixture, and I have been enjoying it over ice after dinner or late at night. Fernet Branca will run you about $20-30 a bottle.