The 7 Best Amarettos in 2022

Your route to the best amaretto sour

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What exactly is amaretto? Traditionally, amaretto is an Italian almond-flavored liqueur, and legend has it the nutty spirit was Leonardo da Vinci’s drink of choice. But few know the spirit can be made with anything from apricot kernels and peach pits to almond extract and crumbled up cookies steeped in booze.

While there are a few particularly well-known brands on the market today, there’s a rainbow of other great options, some of which are nut-free and nonalcoholic. For a true taste of history, you can even find small batch varieties that feature centuries old recipes.

Amaretto can often get a bad rap as overly sweet, but the lovely nutty notes shine when sipped on its own as a digestif or paired in a cocktail with spicy, bold flavors for balance. Try it instead of simple syrup in an old-fashioned or add a shot to a coffee, latte, or espresso martini.

Here are the best amarettos.

Knight Gabriello Santoni Amaretto

knight-gabriello-amaretto

Courtesy of Drizly

Knight Gabriello Santoni Amaretto balances honeyed sweetness with slight nuttiness. The brand uses real almond oil for an authentic taste and further flavors the bottle with 27 carefully selected herbs and spices found in the Tuscan area. Each batch of this liqueur is made high up in the Tuscan hillside using traditional recipes.

“This amaretto actually tastes rich with almond flavor,” says Juan Fernandez, the beverage director at The Ballantyne, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Charlotte. He says there's no "fake almond extract" taste at all—a true testament to the quality of real almond oil.

Locals supposedly prefer sipping this amaretto on the rocks, but Fernandez says it's also great to mix or use in baking. Because it's slightly bitter, it's a great option for both sweet and savory cocktails and confections.

Gozio Amaretto

Gozio-amaretto

Courtesy of Drizly

Gozio Amaretto is made with almonds, peach stones, and apricot pits, and comes in a gorgeous curved glass bottle. There are no artificial ingredients used whatsoever, and Piero Procida, the food and beverage director of The London West Hollywood at Beverly Hills, claims it's the best amaretto out there.

“For the best tasting amaretto, I always stick with Italian premium amarettos,” Procida says. “Though brands like Disaronno offer great value for money and are the best-selling, real gems often come from small lesser-known boutique distilleries that focus on quality rather than quantity production. Gozio Amaretto is one of those brands that truly stand out."

Gozio Amaretto is produced by Distillerie Franciacorta, a 120-year-old company based in Gussago, Italy, that Procida says uses an "incredibly laborious process of production" and "a secret formula" that results in a high-quality (and majorly delicious) final product.

Lazzaroni Amaretto

lazzaroni-amaretto

Courtesy of Drizly

Lazzaroni’s recipe is a standout because instead of infusing the spirit with nuts or fruit pits, it uses the famed Lazzaroni Amaretto di Saronno cookie. The recipe dates back to the early 1850s, and the addition of the cookies creates a more delicate almond profile to the drink. The resulting liqueur is bright copper in color with subtle flavors of roasted almond, marzipan, and spice. 

“The Amaretti Chiostro Saronno biscuits are first baked, then crushed, getting soaked into the alcohol. The concentrate is then added to the secret ingredients,” says Alex Pendergrass, the assistant director of food and beverage at Rhode Island’s Hotel Viking. “I am a big fan of Lazzaroni Amaretto for its ability to be enjoyed on the rocks or in a sour. I also love this in the afternoon with a tea service.”

Luxardo Amaretto

luxardo-amaretto

Courtesy of Reserve Bar

Luxardo Amaretto uses the pits of cherries, peaches, and apricots to replicate the flavors of toasted almond and marzipan. This is a particularly excellent option for making amaretto sour, as the depth and sweetness pair perfectly with the lemon juice and egg white.

“Ironically the first alcoholic thing I drank in my life was amaretto,” says Randall Restiano, the beverage director of New York City's Eataly Flatiron. “I remember my dad ordering it at a restaurant after dinner and smelling that addictive, sweet almond bouquet and becoming extremely interested until I finally got to taste it.”  

“Recently, I've felt a gravitational pull towards Luxardo Amaretto, but this time instead of sipping it, I enjoy mixing it and watching this almond-like flavor influence cocktails and drinks to no end," he continues. "I truly think it's one of Italy's greatest beverages."

What Our Experts Say

“Amaretto is one of those spirits that generally don't live up to the hype if you get them at the store. That said, it's easier than you think to make your own at home. It's not a super quick process, but the end result is absolutely worth the time and effort. Getting apricot and cherry pits can be tricky, but you can find them online or often in a well-supplied market.” — Gavin Humes, Director of Food and Beverage at Scratch Restaurants Group

Lyre’s Amaretti is an excellent spirit for making cocktails for all ages or entertaining friends who don’t drink. For cautious drinkers, it's also nut-free, gluten-free, vegan, and dairy-free. Try pouring an ounce over a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Since it's alcohol-free, it’s a fun dessert for the whole family.

“Lyre's Amaretti is my absolute favorite almond liqueur," says Anthony Baker, a former bartender at RedFarm and current bartender at Momentum Mixology in New York City. "The current ones on the market, which obviously contain alcohol, are all too thick and too sweet. This nonalcoholic liqueur isn't too sweet—making it perfect for a base spirit in a refreshing cocktail.”

Caffo Amaretto

caffo-amaretto

Courtesy of Drizly

The Caffo family has been distilling since the end of the 19th century, when Giuseppe Caffo started making spirits at the foot of Sicily’s Mount Etna. His original recipes—primarily wine-based spirits, amaro, limoncino, sambuca, and of course, amaretto—have been passed on from generation to generation. 

“I really recommend Caffo Amaretto,” says Rob Vogel, the bar manager at Monarque in Baltimore. “Many amaretti are made with a blend of almonds and apricot pits, but Caffo uses 100 percent Sicilian almonds. This bottle is much less expensive than some of the more popular name brands, and best of all, does not taste artificial.”

Vogel’s preferred use for Caffo Amaretto is in an amaretto sour, to which he adds a bit of dry sherry.

Disaronno Originale Amaretto

disaronno-amaretto

Courtesy of Minibar

Disaronno is one of the world’s best-known amarettos. The recipe dates back to 1525 and is a closely guarded secret, combining apricot pits, burnt sugar, and the essence of 17 secret herbs and fruits.

“Disaronno is a great product that is always consistent,” says Jules Gomez, the beverage manager at Zuma Miami. “It’s the industry standard and readily available in most, if not all markets, thus making it great when sharing recipes or trying to recreate cocktails at home.” 

“Disaronno is also super versatile and can be used to add depth to cocktails or as a sweetener substitute," Gomez continues. "An easy example is swapping out simple syrup and using Disaronno instead in an old-fashioned."

It’s also particularly excellent in hot coffees or espresso martinis.

What to Look for in Amaretto

Uses

Think about how you will incorporate and use this beverage. Will you drink it as a digestif? Or is it primarily going to serve as a mixer for cocktails? Maybe you're an avid baker who loves slipping in the strong flavors of liqueurs in your baking. Keep in mind that some amaretti are very sweet, which would work great as in a cocktail with sour ingredients (hence the amaretto sour), whereas others instead play up their nuttiness.

Ingredients

Not all amaretto is made from almonds. In fact, some are made from crumbled up almond cookies, and others derive their nuttiness from peach, apricot, and cherry pits. The ingredients will help determine the taste. Other choices, such as Lyre's Amaretti, steer clear of nuts, gluten, dairy and alcohol, making it a safe choice for those with food allergies to use as a base for spirits, or to pour over ice cream and serve to children.

Alcohol Content (ABV)


Compared to other spirits, such as whiskey, vodka, gin, and rum, which contain about 40 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), amaretto clocks in around 21 to 28 percent ABV. It's a choice that packs less of a punch than those other choices.

FAQs

What's the best way to drink amaretto?

First and foremost, you can make an amaretto sour, one of its best known cocktail uses. You can also pour it over vanilla ice cream, sip it straight after dinner, or mix it in a glass with ice and cola.
Amaretto also works great in drinks where you might like coffee or chocolate flavors, or as substitutes for coffee or chocolate-based liqueurs.

How long does an unopened bottle of amaretto last?

A bottle that's been unopened and stored in a place that's cool, dark, and dry can last up to two decades. Once a bottle of amaretto is opened, it will be good for up to five years without spoiling. You'll know it's turned if it tastes bitter or sour.

Is amaretto the same as amaro?

Both of these liqueurs are Italian in origin, and contain a similar word: amaro, which means "bitter" in ITalian, and amaretto, which means "little bitter." But that's about where the similarity ends. Amaretto purports to have a nutty, almond-based flavor and its flavor profile can contain sweet, nutty, bitter, and even some spicy notes. Amaro, on the other hand, is a type of bittersweet herbal liqueur typically consumed as an after-dinner digestif.

Why Trust The Spruce Eats?

Kate Dingwall is a sommelier and spirits writer. She has been writing about the bar and spirits world for five years and has her BarSmarts and WSET certification.

Updated by
Carrie Havranek
Carrie Havranek
Carrie has 10+ years experience as a food writer and editor. Her work can be found in her cookbook, Tasting Pennsylvania, and her site, the Dharma Kitchen.
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