Amaro (Italian for "bitter") is an Italian herbal liqueur that is commonly drunk as an after-dinner digestif. It usually has a bitter-sweet flavor, sometimes syrupy, and has an alcohol content between 16% and 40%.
Similar liqueurs have traditionally been produced throughout Europe. There are local varieties in Germany (where they are called Kräuterlikör), in Hungary, the Netherlands, and France. But the term amaro is applied only to Italian products of this kind.
Amaro is 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 bottles.
Many commercial bottlers trace their recipe or production to the 19th century. Recipes often originated in monasteries or pharmacies.
Amaro is typically drunk neat, sometimes with a citrus wedge. It may also be drunk on ice or with tonic water.
Medium - typically 32% alcohol by volume, with an even balance between bitter, sweet, and citrus tastes. Examples of this type are Montenegro, Ramazzotti, Averna, Lucano, Luxardo Amaro Abano, Amaro Bio.
Fernet - more sharply bitter than other amari. The angriest of the amaro. Examples include Fernet Branca, Fernet Stock, Luxardo Fernet, Amaro Santa Maria Al Monte.
Light - Lighter in color than others, usually with more citrus notes. Examples include Amaro Nonino, Amaro Florio, Amaro del Capo.
Alpine - flavoured with 'alpine' herbs, sometimes with a smokey taste, typically around 17% alcohol content. Examples include Amaro Alpino, Amaro Zara, Amaro Braulio.
Vermouth - Unlike other amaros, which are typically made from grain-based alcohol, vermouth amaro is wine-based. It is sweeter with more citrus, and very closely resembles the aperitif vermouth. Examples are Amaro Don Bairo, Amaro Diesus del Frate.
Carciofo - made with artichoke, usually around 17% alcohol content. These amari are usually taken as an aperitif, rather than a digestif. Examples include Cynar and Carciofo (multiple producers).