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Amaretto is an Italian sweet almond-flavoured liqueur. It is made from a base of apricot or almond pits, or sometimes both.

The name is a diminutive of the Italian amaro, meaning "bitter", indicating the distinctive flavour lent by the mandorla amara--the bitter almond or the drupe kernel. However, the bitterness is not unpalatable, and the flavour is enhanced by sweeteners, and sometimes sweet almonds, in the final products.

Left: The Disaronno Originale square bottle, the most popular brand of Amaretto.

Conflation of amare and amore ("love") is primarily responsible for the associations with romance.

Disaronno Originale (28% abv), the most popular brand of Amaretto, has a characteristic bittersweet almond taste (although it contains no almonds or nuts) and is known for its distinctive appearance. Disaronno claims its "originale" amaretto's "secret formula" is unchanged from the year 1525. Its production remains in Saronno, but the product is sold worldwide.

The company describes its amaretto as an infusion of "apricot kernel oil" with "absolute alcohol, burnt sugar, and the pure essence of seventeen selected herbs and fruits". The amber liqueur is presented in a rectangular glass decanter designed by a craftsman from Murano.

According to the Disaronno website, their Amaretto contains no almonds, and is nut-free.

Amaretto serves a variety of culinary uses.

  • Amaretto is added to desserts, including ice cream, which enhances the flavour of the dessert with almonds and complements chocolate. Tiramisu, a popular Italian cake, is often flavoured with either real Amaretto or alcohol-free Amaretto aroma.

  • Savoury recipes which call for it usually focus on meat, such as chicken.

  • A few shots of Amaretto can be added to pancake batter for a richer flavour.

  • Amaretto is often added to almondine sauce for fish and vegetables.

Amaretto may be served neat (by itself) or on the rocks (with ice). It is often added to other beverages to create several popular mixed drinks. It is also a popular choice of liqueur to add to coffee in the morning.

One example of a popular cocktail, that highlights Amaretto liqueur as a primary ingredient, is given below.

Amaretto Sour Cocktail Ingredients

  • 2 oz Amaretto
  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup

Preparation Method


Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Add ice, shake vigorously, and strain into a sour glass.



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