Above: Fernet Branca shakerato, the way I drink it.
My colleague at Sotto in Los Angeles, mixologist Julian Cox, got a nice shout out from wine writer Ray Isle in an article on amaro in this month’s issue of Food & Wine. Julian’s amaro list at the restaurant features around 20 labels on any given day.
There’s no two ways about it: amarophilia (amaro fever? amaro mania?) is one of the new waves in mixology these days.
When I traveled to Friuli in October with a troika of über-hip mixologists, the barpeople wanted to duck into every wine shop they could in the hope of discovering a label unknown to Americans.
Above: That’s super cool Sam Ross of Milk & Honey (NYC) fame with the fabu Nonino sisters, an image I snapped on our trip to Friuli. He uses Nonino’s amaro in his cocktail, “the Paper Plane.”
When Ray — a friend and colleague from my NYC days — called to interview me for the article, we talked about the differences in the way that amaro is perceived and applied in the U.S. and Italy, historically and currently.
I recalled a Neapolitan-American friend of mine, Giovanni, now in his 50s, whose mother used to give him an espresso spiked with a shot of Fernet Branca and an egg yolk every morning before school.
There was a time when Italians used amaro as a tonic. And today, even though it’s no longer applied as a household remedy, Italians still serve it as a digestive. At any given bar or restaurant, you might find 3 or 4 different labels but no one would ever think of offering guests an amaro list (with 20 labels!) or using amaro as an ingredient in a cocktail.
Another expression of that great misunderstanding otherwise known as the Atlantic Ocean…