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Averna…It’s What’s For (after) Dinner

October 25, 2010

One of those funny little traditions that never seemed to take hold here in the states is the addition of an aperitif or digestif to bookend the evening meal.  For those unaware, an apéritif (also spelled aperitif) is usually served before a meal to stimulate the appetite, contrasting with digestifs, which are served at the end of a meal to aid digestion.

I found myself stuffed to the brim last night, after a delicious birthday meal (not mine) of sushi.  Ok, there were some various deep-fried treats like an eggroll (and a half) and some crab rangoons…who really “gets stuffed” on just sushi??  Oh, and there might have been a brownie with ice cream, too…

Whatever.  I like to overindulge.

So–back to what I was saying.  Stuffed to the brim and waddling up the stairs to the house, I needed some relief.  No plop plop fizz fizz Alka Seltzer for me tonight…so how about a glass of bitters?  It just so happens I’ve been sitting on a bottle for a while, and it seemed like the perfect time to enjoy it.

Amaro (meaning “bitter” in Italian, plural Amari) is a variety of Italian herbal liquer, commonly drunk as an after-dinner digestif. It is usually bitter and sweet, sometimes syrupy, usually with an alcohol content between 16% and 35%. Amari are typically produced by macerating herbs, roots, flowers, bark, and/or citrus peels in alcohol, either neutral spirits or wine, mixing the filtrate with sugar syrup, and allowing the mixture to age in casks or in bottle. 

Salvatore Averna founded the company back in 1868–and the great tradition of this liquer still remains in the hands of the Averna family today.  Averna is your traditional Italian Amaro (well, technically Sicilian), produced from your standard “secret recipe.”  A concoction of herbs, roots and citrus rinds are allowed to soak in an alcohol base, and natural caramel is added to finish the product.

Deep, syrupy, mahogany with glimmers of copper pour out of the bottle.  Served neat, there are sweet scents of herbs, maybe some star anise, and brown sugar.  As soon as it touches your lips you expect something cloying, from the viscous nature of the drink–but that never appears.  Don’t get me wrong, there is some molasses/maple-y sweetness–but it’s immediately squashed by drying cinnamon, citrus rind and freshly broken twigs.

Ok, so I may be grasping at straws on that last descriptor, but there’s definitely a , woody characteristic to the Averna…

After just a couple of ounces of this liquid “cure,” my belly seems less likely to burst at the slightest touch.  Hooray!  I’ll definitely be using this remedy again (and most likely sooner than later.) 

Not really feeling the straight up/digestif route??  Amaro’s also make a great addition to various cocktails…I’ve chosen two from the Averna website; one is a “Big Boy” drink–for those of you who like boozy deliciousness…the other caters to the fruit juice/Cosmo crowd.  I haven’t attempted either recipe yet, but I’m sure I will love both equally…hopefully you will too! 

The Island Voodoo (the “Big Boy” drink)

  • 1.5 oz of rye whisky
  • 1 oz Averna
  • .5 oz limoncello

Pour into a mixing glass, stir 30 times and strain into a martini class.  Garnish with an orange peel.

The Sicilian Triangle (for the sweeter crowd)

  • 2 oz Averna
  • 1 oz white rum
  • 1 oz pomegranate juice
  • .5 oz orange juice
  • .5 lemon juice
  • splash of pineapple juice

Add all ingredients into a shaker filled with ice.  Shake vigorously, strain into a martini glass &  garnish with a pineapple wedge.

Yum, yum–Averna…just what the doctor ordered!

Note:  If anyone is actually interested in trying this…I’m planning on hosting an in store tasting this Friday evening (October 29th) from 4pm to 6pm! 

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 4, 2010 12:20 am

    This is a cool blog message, I will keep this idea in my mind. If you add more video and pictures because it helps understanding 🙂 ml Lilaea.

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