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Amaro Alle Erbe - Italian Herbal Liqeur Recipe

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Amaro is the quintessential after dinner cordial, made with all sorts of herbs. The major commercial varieties include Amaro Ramazzotti, Jägermeister, and Amaretto di Saronno, and there are hundreds more, many made by monasteries scattered throughout the Peninsula. This recipe yields a simple amaro that's fairly dry and not too strong, about 30% alcohol. A tiny glass will be very tasty at the end of a meal, and will spread a pleasing warmth through your insides.

Ingredients:

  • 5 leaves balm-mint (melissa officinalis)
  • 5 leaves sage
  • 10 leaves (not sprigs) rosemary
  • A flowered top of a European Centaury plant
  • 15 juniper berries
  • 5 cloves
  • 1/2 inch cinnamon stick
  • A piece of Florentine Iris root (orris root), fragmented
  • A piece of sweet calamus root (sweet flag), fragmented
  • A piece of yellow gentian root (bitter root), fragmented
  • A piece of carline thistle root, fragmented
  • 2 leaves from a flowering milk thistle
  • 2/3 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 2/3 cups good quality white vermouth
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons grain alcohol

Preparation:

Macerate the herbs in the alcohol for 5 days; if it's sunny wrap the jar in dark paper to keep the light out and set it in the sun. Meanwhile, combine the vermouth and the sugar in a second jar and let them sit in a dark place; the sugar will gradually dissolve.

Strain the alcohol into a clean bottle, stopper it, and transfer the steeped herbs to the vermouth jar. Steep them for another week, then strain the vermouth into the alcohol bottle. Let the mixture sit for a day, then filter it into an elegant bottle. Cork the bottle and let it age in a dark place for at least 8 months.

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