Discover the Magic of Amaretto Sour

Discover the Magic of Amaretto Sour

Posted by Spirits Kiosk on 25 Apr 2023

The Amaretto Sour, a classic cocktail that has stood the test of time, has been delighting taste buds around the world for decades. 

This simple yet enchanting concoction combines the sweet, nutty flavour of amaretto with the tartness of fresh lemon juice to create a perfectly balanced drink. In this article, we'll dive into the history of the Amaretto Sour, its distinct flavour profile, and provide you with an easy to make recipe to create one at home.

What is Amaretto?

Amaretto Liqueur has a rich history that dates back to the 16th century. It’s a sweet Italian liqueur that originated in the town of Saronno, Lombardy, in Northern Italy. The name "amaretto" derives from the Italian word "amaro," meaning bitter, and the diminutive suffix "etto" suggests a touch of bitterness in the liqueur's flavour profile. That said, the overall taste of amaretto is predominantly sweet, with hints of almond and apricot.

There are several legends and stories associated with the invention of Amaretto. Most are just that, a long piece of yarn that makes for nostalgic story. 

For example, one popular story tells of a Saronno church artist Bernardino Luini who painted frescoes and was given a homemade almond liqueur as a token of gratitude by a widowed innkeeper. The recipe was passed down through generations, eventually leading to the creation of Amaretto as we know it today. Highly, highly unlikely, but it’s so charming we’re willing it to be true.

Amaretto Liqueur has a distinct taste, featuring rich almond and marzipan flavours with a touch of sweetness and a hint of bitterness. Despite the almond-like flavour, it is typically made from apricot kernels or a combination of apricot kernels and almonds.

To make Amaretto, the base ingredients of apricot kernels (or a mix of apricot kernels and almonds) are soaked in alcohol, usually a neutral grain spirit, along with other flavourings such as vanilla, spices, or herbs. After a certain period of infusion, the mixture is strained, and sugar is added to sweeten it. The resulting liqueur is then often aged before bottling.

All clued up, onto the Amaretto Sour!

Fast forward to the 20th century, and the Amaretto Sour was born in the United States. 

While the exact creator of the Amaretto Sour remains unknown, based on cocktail menus and advertising it is believed to have introduced to the public in 1974, by the importer of Amaretto di Saronno as a simple mix of two parts amaretto liqueur to one part lemon juice. The cocktail gained immense popularity in the late 70’s and 80’s and the recipe evolved, flowing in and out of favour since.

If you haven’t tried one yet, the Amaretto Sour is a delightful balance of sweet and tart flavours.

The sweet, rich almond and stone fruit notes of amaretto are perfectly complemented by the tangy, zesty lemon juice. The addition of a sweetener, like simple syrup, and a frothy egg white (optional) creates a velvety texture, resulting in a smooth, easy-drinking cocktail that is both delicious and refreshing.

Amaretto Sour Recipe

60ml Amaretto

30ml Fresh lemon juice

15ml simple syrup

1/4 egg white (optional and equivalent to 15ml)

In a cocktail shaker, combine the amaretto, lemon juice and simple syrup.

Add the egg white (if using it) and dry shake (without ice) for about 10 seconds to emulsify the mix. Add ice to the shaker and shake vigorously for another 30 seconds to chill the cocktail and mix further. Strain into an old-fashioned glass filled with ice.

Garnish with an orange slice.

Tips for Making the Perfect Amaretto Sour

Use fresh lemon juice: Freshly squeezed lemon juice is crucial for achieving the perfect balance between sweet and sour flavours.

Adjust sweetness to taste: You can modify the amount of simple syrup to suit your preference. If you prefer a sharper drink, you can omit the simple syrup altogether.

Experiment with bitters: For an extra depth of flavour, try adding a dash or two of Angostura bitters.

Upgrade your recipe to this one: The Amaretto Sour is a simple entry on the “sour” branch of the classic cocktail family tree. There are countless riffs on it and one of the most popular (arguably, one that helped re-popularise it in this new era) was the one from Jeffrey Morgenthaler. He revamped the cocktail’s recipe with a generous pour of cask-strength bourbon.

Alternate Amaretto Sour Recipe

45ml Amaretto

10ml Cask-Strength Whisky

30ml Fresh lemon juice

10ml Simple syrup

15ml Fresh egg white

Try these Amaretto Brands:

Disaronno: Disaronno is one of the most well-known amaretto brands. Produced in Saronno, Italy, Disaronno boasts a unique, secret formula that has remained unchanged since 1525. It is often considered the benchmark for amaretto liqueurs. You can expect notes of marzipan, dried fruit and a little vanilla alongside some lemon zest and lots of toasted almonds.

Lyres Non Alcoholic Amaretti: Almonds are clear on the palate. The mouthfeel is tangy with enough spice to keep the nutty and candied vanilla flavours alive and lingering. Overall, the sugar levels are balanced by the slight bitterness that almonds naturally have.