Amaro di Angostura!

Amaro di Angostura shot

From the House of Angostura, the makers of the world famous Angostura bitters and rums came a different product from what we are used to see….yep, it was not a bitter or a rum – it was an amaro!…..and just like everything else from the House of Angostura it´s as solid as their rums and their legendary bitters (with that oh so cool oversized label)

The amaro is very versatile and it`s bottled at 35% with aromas of cinnamon, dark chocolate and angostura aromatic bitters. Great on it’s own and in cocktails or even cooking. The product was inspired by Don Carlos Siegert, the son of Angostura’s Founder J.G.B. Siegert.

The base of this amaro is a neutral spirit made from the same molasses as their rums and their own cultivated yeast strain (since the 1930s) that is infused with aromatic and bitter herbs and spices for 3 months – and of course the recipe is a secret…

Amaro di Angostura

When you take a sip of it you feel good…the spicy comforting flavors are warming and there´s quite a bit of cinnamon it it paired with a slightly noticed amount of very dark chocolate and then cardamom, brown sugar, bitter orange peel and raisin plus that well known taste of their bitters, it`s “earhty”, “rooty” and “smoky”with slight medical notes in an array of spiciness rounded out by some sweetness.

If you have ever tried the “Trinidad Sour” cocktail, then you know how the Angostura bitters tastes in a large amount, the cocktail calls for one ounce, it´s spicy and to me not that very bitter at all, more spicy than bitter actually and very aromatic and this is like a sweeter and more drinkable version of the Angostura bitters and can be had in a shot too.

That spicy flavor would go so well in a Tiki drink….you see where i`m heading?

You know, cinnamon (pairs perfectly with pineapple) the flavor of the Angostura bitters whatever exactly they are made of, is a staple in all types of cocktails including the tiki drinks.

Looking through Jeff Berry`s Total Tiki app ( my always so handy to-go app) I decided to try a riff on the Barbancourt Rum Cup and switch the rum for Angostura 5, some pineapple juice and a splash of Amaro di Angostura.

Amaro di Angostura Rum Cup

Amaro di Angostura Rum Cup 2

0.75 oz fresh lime juice

0.25 oz dark sugarcane syrup ( 1:1 dark sugar to water or 2:1 for a thicker richer syrup )

1 oz pineapple juice

0.5 oz Amaro di Angostura

2 oz Angostura 5 year old rum

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail cup, add some ice if you want. Garnish with speared pineapple chunk, maraschino cherry and a tropical flower.

It turned out very tasty! spicy and refreshing, and so did the next drink, which by the looks, looks quite sweet…but it is not….it just turned out very nice and quite spicy due to the Amaro di Angostura.

Banana Daiquiri

Banana Daiquiri Collage pic

0.75 oz fresh lime juice

0.5 oz dark sugarcane syrup

1 oz Amaro di Angostura

2 oz Angostura 5 year old rum

1/2 ripe banana, thinly sliced (save two slices for garnish)

4 oz (1/2 cup) crushed ice

Pinch of cinnamon for the garnish

Put everything in a blender and blend at high speed for at least 30 sek, until smooth. Pour unstrained into a fancy glass with sugared rim and add more crushed ice to fill. I used a “golden” sugar, it`s a raw sugar that is not white nor dark, but very light brown altough it looks white in the pictures, but it`s not a refined white sugar, it´s a raw sugar.

Garnish with two thin banana slices, a tropical flower and some sprinkled cinnamon on top.

This drink tastes NICE!! it gets so much better when using fresh bananas and not making it too sweet, and the Amaro di Angostura went very well in it, adding that spice.

Now let´s try this the way you traditionally drink an amaro, it´s supposed to be a digestive after all. And as such it´s also very nice! If you like Angostura bitters (who doesn`t?) you may get a bottle of this too, it´s a nice complement to the Angostura bitters!

Amaro di Angostura collage

TOTC 2014 – The Tastings! Limited Edition & Vintage Rums and The House of Angostura!

 Vintage Rums Velier rums 3

Limited Edition and Vintage Rums

If I can….where there is rum and good company…I will be….

And so I camped overnight outside the Acadia-Madewood suite in the Sonesta to be sure to be there in time to catch the rums….well…no I didn’t…haha but I was there for sure!! This was an exclusive interactive tasting seminar featuring a selection of rare editions, vintage rums, limited bottlings and collector’s private stock.

The tasting was held by Robert Burr (Miami Rum Renaissance and Rob’s Rum Guide ) Leonardo Pinto (host of ShowRum, the Italian Rum Festival in Rome and the author of ISLA DE RUM web site) and the self proclaimed “high functioning rum-o-holic” from London Paul Mc Fadyen (co-owner of the iconic Trailer Happiness bar in the Notting Hill neighborhood of London and Brand Manager for Plantation Rum)

It was an entertaining and interesting tasting with rums found principally in the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Italy, among them two fine demerara expressions from Velier and a new rum from Banks not even launched yet.

seminar tasting

Robert, Leonardo and Paul took us through the history of rum and about the rums selected for this tasting, and then we also got a bonus rum to taste before the official tasting of it, the pineapple rum from Plantation rums. Also we got a quick presentation of the Lost Spirits Distillery by Bryan.

It’s not so easy to take notes during an interactive tasting like this one but I tried to get a few anyway, we tried eight different rums (plus the pineapple rum from Plantation which will be in another post) and so here are some very quick tasting notes:

Bristol Cuban 2003

This rum was bought unaged and was then aged in bourbon barrels in Bristol for seven years. Light yellowish in color, with hints of citrus peel and raisin and the flavor is balanced with notes of light tropical flowers.

Banks

Banks is coming out with a new rum soon and we got a taste of it….my notes says ” lively, fruity, a happy rum with a little wood, a bit of spice with a round nose with hints of honey, tropical fruit and wood. It’s a Connoisseur’s Cut Limited Release, made with Nicaraguan, Jamaican and Guyanese rums.

Mezan – 98 Guyana

I had never tried Mezan rum before. I found it sweet, a bit delicate, light and complex, some wood, tropical fruits and orange peel. It’s been aged in Europe.

Cuban Banks Mezan

Velier Port Morant 93

Now time for the big boys…two demerara expressions from Velier (Luca Gargano) both fabulous rums! note the little green label around the neck of the Diamond bottle…showing the rum was purchased at my favorite French rum shop in Paris, Christian de Montaguere.

Amazing nose….tropical fruits, wood, apricot, almond, cherry…and in the mouth an explosion of flavors….mashed tropical fruits, wood, spice, intense and warm.

Velier Diamond – 81

It gets even better……a 31 year old demerara that has been aged in the tropics (like all Velier rums) it’s a strong and a quite tannic rum and here we get wood, warm spices, a bit of apricot, the rum is amazing,  a stunning expression.

Velier rums

Plantation Guyana 2005

Demerara rum = Guyana Rhapsody…This expression from Plantation rum is a bit woody, on the dry side, “cool”, with hints of vanilla and fruit, a touch of smoke..

Plantation Guadeloupe – 98

Has a lovely nose, fruity, sugarcane, the flavor is balanced, slightly grassy and floral, a bit dry but has some sweetness, a big rum, very nice sipper.

Bristol Caroni – 96

A nice rum, woody and fruity. Long finish.

Plantation and Bristol rums

RUM! The Past, Present and Future of Cocktails by The House of Angostura

Angostura needs no presentation….and they had a tasting session that really was both entertaining, interactive and fun! we sampled different expressions of rum while John P. Georges (Master Distiller for the House of Angostura) and Philip Duff spoke about the history and making of rum. At the end of the session we got to blend our own rum…

We tasted a range of Angostura rums, the 5 year old, soft and round with notes of tropical fruits, the 7 year old with more robust flavors of chocolate, baking spices, chocolate, coffee, toffee, caramel, the 1919, a premium sipping rum, spicy, peppery, dark roasted nuts, and hints of smoke, and the 1824, aged for 12 years, a rich rum with notes of honey, fruits, chocolate and spices. All these rums are excellent.

But we also tasted a range of other rums to compare and try different styles and types of rum.

Angostura cocktail small

Here is the description:

Join John P. Georges (Master Distiller for the House of Angostura), Philip Duff (Creator of the Rum Institute education program and renowned spirits educator) and Daniyel Jones (Winner of the Angostura® Global Cocktail Challenge 2013, Angostura® Global Brand Ambassador and native Trinidadian) for a unique, free Tasting Room seminar, covering the following topics:

Rum’s place in the history of cocktails, from the very birth of cocktails right through to the present day, with a never-before seen history – and tasting – of the legendary Queen’s Park Swizzle!

A comparative multi-brand rum tasting, to help you map the many different styles of rum. 

Making rum! From distilling to blending to aging to bottling, all the subtleties of production that accumulate into the personality of a fine rum, straight from the mouth of the man responsible for one of the Caribbean’s largest rum distilleries. Includes tastings of deconstruction samples never before made available to the public.

A snapshot of rum in the cocktail world today: The Tiki renaissance, rum in classic and neo-classic cocktails, and boundary-pushing rum cocktails from around the world.

Yes it was interesting and fun indeed…and the tasty Angostura bitters glazed nuts and chicken with BBQ sauce was incredibly tasty too! also I think Angostura is a very classy brand from the products they make (love them all) to the way they operate and their team is awesome people.

Here’s a picture parade….(photos for the Angostura post by Laura Godel)

Angostura presenters

Philip Duff and John P. Georges, and lurking in the background Joey from Rated R Cocktails.

Angostura Rum Institute small

This was a great session!

Angostura John P Master Distiller

Angostura Master Distiller John P. Georges

Angostura tasting rums small

Rum tasting and blending.

Angostura bitters glazed nuts

Try this….it’s delicious…

Angostura cajun chicken strips small

Cajun Chicken Strips….

Angostura BBQ dip

With Angostura Bitters BBQ Dip Sauce…scrumptious!

Amaro di Angostura

But Angostura had more up their sleve….apart from a orange bitters pool party they also had a spirited brunch and a launch of a new product which turned out to be – amaro – bottled at 35% with aromas of cinnamon, dark chocolate and angostura aromatic bitters. Great on it’s own and in cocktails. Presented by the Angostura brand ambassador Daniyel Jones, people got to sample cocktails and shots with the new amaro made by Ivy Mix (Clover Club NYC) Mike Tomasic (House of Angostura Global Brand Ambassador) Daniyel Jones (House of Angostura Brand Ambassador) and JJ Goodman (The London Cocktail Club, UK).

It’s a very nice product indeed! look out for a few cocktails and a review later.

Angostura amaro cocktail small

Doesn’t this look tasty?

Angostura Daniyel making amaro cocktail

Daniyel Jones mixing up delicious cocktails.

Angostura Amaro shot 2

A shot of Amaro di Angostura..

Next up….more tastings! and more rum!

 

DEAR CAMPARI

campari-close-label

The content in my glass is glistening like red rubies and i get thirsty by just looking at it. I know too well how completely satisfying a glass of Campari can be – on the rocks, with soda or orange juice.

From the land of bitter aperitifs and digestifs – Italy – we are blessed with a whole range of bitter aperifs and digestifs such as Campari, Aperol, Cynar, Ramazotti and Fernet Branca to name a few. These are all good for our digestion and has medical properties as well as wonderful flavors even though to many it`s an aquired taste. But give them a chance – you might get hooked.

These has been my companions for many years and my first accuintance with Campari was in right there in Italy where i had my first glass sitting at a restaurant in Napoli after we had a wonderful day in the beautiful island of Capri. My memories of that first glass are so (bitter) sweet.

I shall never forget the first chocking sip and then the next eventually leading to a long life love relationship with this wonderful apertif. Unusually maybe, i didn`t dislike it at all and came to love it very fast. Some people are just “bitter” types..

Italy is also the place where i also made my first experiences with vermouth, and therefore vermouth is to me also connected with that special atmosphere of Italy as well – which is a mèlange of tranquility and chaos – the lazy afternoon in the cooler shadows, the hot sun, the food, the fragrances…the chaotic traffic and the blue mediterranian sea.

Few things are to me so pleasant as a glass of Campari before a good meal and especially if that dinner was a pasta dinner with something like say – a lobster sauce. The typical and also the most tasty way to drink these bitter aperitifs and digestives is to keep it simple and enjoy them neat with ice and a slice of orange or lemon.

But they are also wonderful mixers for cocktails and there´s no limit to what you can do with them, especially Campari and Aperol are well suited for mixing. So my favorite above all – the Campari is what i used here for this post which really, is about playing with Campari.

And with it the very common but proved combination of fresh blood orange juice, (they just go hand in hand) – its hard to fail. I was going to stop there because nothing more is needed – but just for the heck of it i decided to rinse the glass with absinthe and for freshness, a sprinkle of lime juice and then something for the nose – fresh mint wrapped in lime peel.

This cocktail celebrates my sunny memories of Capri.

CAPRI

capri-sunset

2 oz Campari
2 oz fresh blood orange juice
sprinkle of lime
Absinthe rinse

Fill a rocks glass half full with large ice cubes, pour the ingredients and stir, add more ice and garnish with mint wrapped in lime peel and a slice of blood orange.

I discovered that the Campari almost overpowers the Absinthe – but its there even though quite subtle, so if you want more, just add a few extra drops.To me it was ok though as the emphasis is on the Campari, the Absinthe is just there to add a little subtle tingle, something i think Absinthe is very good for.

Another classic Campari drink that never a fails is the Campari and Soda, just a splash of each, ice  and lemon or orange wedge in the glass..unbeatable! Here is another take on this refreshing drink that uses fresh mint and crushed ice.

CAMPARI AND SODA WITH MINT

campari-soda

Take 10 mint leaves and muddle with 1/4 oz simple syrup, add 2 oz campari and stir with ice to mix, then strain into a rocks glass with crushed ice and top up with Soda. Add a sprinkle of fresh lime and garnish with mint and a lime wedge.

Unfortunately the old Campari (the one with cochineal) is no more produced and what is available here is the new one. Even if the flavour difference maybe isn´t that dramatical its still there – very subtle but there`s a difference. R.I.P Old Campari.

I think they also have made some new artsy labels for Campari, making it more classy and modern in style – which i don`t particularly like, i like it the old style – not too fancy but more down to earth genuine, the way it always been.

Campari is one of my absolute favorite spirits. please don`t destroy it.

MxMo XXXIX – AMARO

mxmologo1

Oh how i love this topic! thank you Chuck for hosting this MxMo at the Gumbo Pages which i consider being a fantastic blog.

amaro-ramazotti

One amaro two amari..

These bitter herbal liqueurs are very dear to me because for some weird reason its some of the first alcohol drinks that i tried and that was in Italy, and therefore i always feel the memories of that wonderful country when i drink a nice amaro. I just need to look at a bottle  to get that special feeling. Oddly enough Cynar is one of the amaris which i tried later than sooner.

Now its not just the italians that makes bitter liqueurs but really the italians have made it into an art to create diverse liqueurs from all sorts of unlikely ingredients, just think about Cynar! (artichoke) or Amaro Nonino which is made from grappa infused with herbs, plus grain alcohol, and ingredients that include caramelized sugar, bitter orange, cinchona, galenga, gentian, liquorice, quassia wood, rhubarb, saffron, sweet orange and tamarind.

One of the most famous amaris is Amaro Averna from Sicily which among other things contains chinotto, the bitter orange which i really like. I once read somewhere that the italians have invented more than 300 different kinds of after-dinner digestive drinks for relieving the heaviness that often follows their meals.

Amaro means bitter in italian and its a bitter herbal liqueur, a digestif usually drunk after dinner, having a tonic effect, cleansing the palate between meals. Amari are most often drunk neat with a citrus wedge, ice or with a topping of tonic water, here simplicity is the best, but they are also wonderful mixers for other cocktails.

For this post i decided to use Ramazotti menta which i don´t use that very often and now i got a wonderful opportunity to make more use of it. Ramazotti menta is also a bit challenging i think as the mint flavor really can be a bit overpowering, i think mint has a way to do that unless its fresh.

The original Amaro Ramazotti is a reddish-brown digestive that sits somewhere in the mid-range of bitterness with a bit of an orangey flavor. Its made with 33 ingredients and among them are cinchona tree bark, cinnamon, gentian, oregano, bitter orange from Curaçao sweet oranges from Sicily.

Ramazotti was first made in Milano in 1815 by Ausano Ramazotti who created it in his shop as a tonic liqueur made from herbs and spices including gentian root, rhubarb, cinnamon and the peel from Sicilian oranges. Ramazzotti does not contain artificial color or flavour materials.

Now with this menta version i made a very simple digestive, amaro menta with some ice and fresh orange juice topped off with a small splash of fernet, another famous amaro and one of my favorites along with campari..

MENTA AMARO

amaro-bitter-menta1

1 oz Ramazotti menta
2 oz fresh orange juice
Small splash fernet branca
Soda to top
Ice cubes
Garnish orange wedge and mint

Half fill a rocks glass with ice cubes, add Ramazotti menta and orange juice, stir. Add a small splash fernet branca and top with soda. Fill up with more ice and garnish with a orange wedge and mint sprig.

The topping off with a small splash of Fernet followed by soda will layer the bitter flavors a bit.

I was very tempted to even top off with a few dashes of bitters but i resisted, that would have been too much different bitter flavors outdoing each other. Even the combination of Ramazotti menta and Fernet is maybe a bit unusual but actually i find it tasty. The color isn`t the most appetizing, a cloudy murky sort of brown but dont let that fool you, this tastes much better than it looks.

Overall this cocktail was tasty enough to make me want to drink it again. The fun thing is that rather than feeling like a digestive it sparked my appetite for wanting more of both the dinner and another drink.

 Finally one last thing, i sometimes enjoy a shot of Swack which is a lighter version of the original Unicum (or i enjoy a shot of Fernet).

 amaro-unicum

And with this i want to finish by saying that i really looking forward to read the roundup, so don`t forget to check out the Gumbo pages in a few days.

amaro-ramazotti-menta