The Best Amari to Sip, Savor & Mix

These herbal liqueurs should be staples in your home bar.

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The Spruce Eats / Amelia Manley

We’re letting you in on an industry secret: although often overlooked (and incredibly underrated), when it comes to go-to beverage options, bar pros continuously reach for amaro. These Italian herbal liqueurs offer some of the most refreshing and satiating drinking experiences on the planet and are perfect for sipping neat or mixing into cocktail creations. 

Amaro is an herbal liqueur produced from a neutral spirit or wine base and macerated botanicals, including barks, roots, herbs, fruit peels, and more. Northern Italian expressions tend to be more alpine-influenced and piney, whereas southern Italian expressions fall on the richer, more citrus-driven side of things. For piney, refreshing amaro, many pros reach for Piedmont-based Braulio, Varnelli, or Nonino, with Averna coming in as an accessible, easy-to-find Sicilian option.

Rebecca Flynn, general manager and beverage director of Brooklyn-based Red Hook Tavern says it’s all about the balance. “In amaro, I look for a balance of bitterness, sweetness, and booziness,” she says. For Flynn, a good amaro is ideally “bitter and dry enough to make you want another sip, sweet enough to carry the herbal flavors and aromatics, and strong enough to aid in digestion without knocking you out.”

Curious about where to begin? We’ve gathered our favorite amaro options, from wine-based to alpine-influenced and everywhere in between. Bitter fans—and even more so, those skeptical of such liqueurs—these options promise to have you salivating for more.

In This Article

Best Overall

Braulio Bormio Amaro Alpino

Braulio Bormio Amaro Alpino

Total Wine

Across the board, numerous beverage professionals agree—when it comes to a solid amaro, Braulio checks all of the boxes. Produced in Italy’s Lombardy region, this balanced, Alpine-influenced amaro is easy to find and always delivers in terms of quality and flavor. “Braulio is probably my favorite amaro,” says Nial Garcia, beverage director/sommelier at The Conrad Hotel DC, highlighting the drink’s piney, herbaceous notes. “It’s the perfect drink to finish a meal,” he says. 

When poured neat, Flynn describes Braulio as “like a kiss of the Alps,” thanks to its herbal, bitter, and warming qualities. (She also recommends warming it up with rye and lemon for a spin on a hot toddy.) James agrees, “Alpine-driven amari are always my favorite,” she says. “I love Braulio because it has a generous helping of bitterness juxtaposed with refreshing mountain herbs.”

Price at the time of publish: $58

Region: Lombardy, Italy | ABV: 21% | Tasting Notes: Mint, cola, tree bark, dried herbs

Best Approachable

Averna Amaro

Averna Amaro

Total Wine

Travis Padilla, sommelier at New York-based Contento, reveals that he regularly reaches for Averna, thanks to its rich-yet-balanced flavor profile “I like [it] with a large ice cube, in a snifter with an orange twist to bring out the natural citrus components,” he says. Flynn agrees, also emphasizing pouring Averna on the rocks with a slice of orange, to enhance its Sicilian roots. 

Garcia describes Averna as the perfect amaro for the “darker spirit drinkers or cigar smokers,” thanks to its abundant flavors of dried herbs, burnt orange, and earthiness. The best part? Averna’s full body and rich mouthfeel. “Averna is very rich and viscous, so as the ice melts, it's almost like it extends your drink, so you have more time to chat with friends,” explains Padilla. 

Price at the time of publish: $29

Region: Sicily, Italy | ABV: 29% | Tasting Notes: Bitter orange, cinnamon, chocolate

Best Alpine

Distilleria Dell'Alpe Amaro Del Cansiglio

Distilleria Dell'Alpe Amaro Del Cansiglio

Victoria James, author, sommelier, and beverage director at New York's, Cote, states that while everyone is different, she tends to lean into more alpine, herb-driven amari rather than overly bitter expressions. However, at the end of the day, the beverage should speak to where it comes from. “Most importantly, I feel that the product should express a sense of place—the local botanicals and celebrated style of the region,” she says. Her preferred way to enjoy amaro? As a post-meal digestif or with an espresso in Italy, standing up at a coffee bar prior to beginning a night out.

Amaro del Cansiglio is produced at the foot of the eastern Italian Alps using 18 naturally occurring herbs and botanicals, with no artificial coloring or flavors added. The recipe was first created after World War II and has essentially remained the same since then. 

Price at the time of publish: $31

Region: Veneto, Italy | ABV: 25% | Tasting Notes: Menthol, gentian, citrus

Best Splurge

Varnelli Amaro Dell'Erborista

Varnelli Amaro Dell'Erborista

Astor Wines

When seeking out a great amaro, Annie Shi, co-owner and beverage director of Italian restaurant Jupiter, likes to keep it local—in terms of ingredients, that is. “I look for a sense of place. Amari are typically distilled with herbs, and the best ones use local varieties that are foraged from close by,” she says. For a more classic amaro, Shi reaches for Varnelli Amaro dell’Erborista. “It has one of the best textures,” she says, noting that the amaro is a bit cloudy (due to being unfiltered) and has a wonderful roundness. “It is, however, quite bitter, so not for the faint of heart!” she exclaims. 

Produced in the coastal region of Marche, Italy, the Varnelli family has been crafting amaro since the mid-1800s. All herbs and roots are sourced from the nearby Sibillini mountains, and only honey is used to sweeten the final product. The herbs, roots, and barks used to create Amaro dell’Erborista are all roasted over a fire prior to maceration, so as to bring out their aromas and flavors and add a smokey touch. 

Price at the time of publish: $70

Region: Marche, Italy ABV: 21% | Tasting Notes: Rhubarb, honey, smoke

Best Non-Alcoholic

Dr. Zero Zero AmarNo Non-Alcoholic Amaro Spirit

Dr. Zero Zero AmarNo Non-Alcoholic Amaro Spirit


Who says you can’t enjoy amaro without the booze? Thanks to AmarNo, partaking in a post-dinner, booze-free digestif is simple. Crafted using Chinese rhubarb, sage, wormwood, and other botanicals, this Venetian amaro is crafted using the same herbs as other standard amari, meaning that the digestion support component of regular amaro is not lost on this alcohol-free product. 

When seeking out an amaro, Padilla describes the “biggest check” on his list to be a balance between bitter botanicals, sweetness, and overall viscosity. “My favorite [time] to enjoy amaro is any time that I want to savor a particular moment, whether the chat before an order, a moment to myself after a long shift, or the lingering feeling of warmth and fellowship wanting to be extended after a good meal,” he says, highlighting the latter of the three. “If I could pick just one, it would be during the moments after the meal when nobody is ready to head home quite yet, so stories ensue. Amaro extends and enhances them.”

Price at the time of publish: $35

Region: Veneto, Italy | ABV: 0% | Tasting Notes: Citrus, dried herbs, wood

Best for Cocktails

Nonino Amaro

Nonino Amaro

Total Wine

Crafted in the heart of Friuli, this amber-hued amaro errs on the sweeter side of the spectrum, boasting flavors of vanilla, herbs, baking spice, and caramel. At 35% ABV, this dark-hued liqueur packs a heartier punch than most other options on the list—meaning that if you like fuller-bodied digestifs, this option is most definitely for you. 

The amaro’s higher alcohol content also makes it a solid component to spritzes and craft cocktail creations. Garcia reveals that while he carries plenty of amaro at the hotel, three particular bottles hold his heart—the first being Amaro Nonino, as it is one of the key ingredients in the establishment’s Paper Plane cocktail. 

Price at the time of publish: $50

Region: Friuli, Italy | ABV: 35% | Tasting Notes: Vanilla, baking spice, caramel

Best American

Faccia Brutto Amaro Gorini

Faccia Brutto Amaro Gorini

K&L Wines

For a domestic twist on Italian-inspired amaro, look no further than Faccia Brutto Amaro Alpino. Produced in Brooklyn, New York, this American amaro comes inspired by the owner’s grandmother, who had a passion for southern Italian spirits. Crafted from 13 botanicals and non-GMO neutral grain spirit, Faccia Brutto barrel ages the amaro in used whiskey barrels for at least three months prior to sweetening the liqueur with organic sugar cane, then allowing it to macerate with fresh orange peels for another few days.

Padilla describes Faccia Brutto’s amaro as super-rich, with lovely citrus notes and a punch of chicory. “Aside from using local and sustainably sourced botanicals, they also pay homage to traditional Sicilian amaro-making techniques, and it shows in the product,” he says, describing the pour as his “year-round, casual sip at home.”

Price at the time of publish: $50

Region: Brooklyn, New York | ABV: 22% | Tasting Notes: Bitter citrus, chicory, fresh orange

Best Digestif

Cappelletti Amaro Sfumato Rabarbaro

Cappelletti Amaro Sfumato Rabarbaro

Total Wine

Garcia describes amari as perfect digestifs that should be enjoyed after a meal. “Amari can also be enjoyed as a perfect nightcap beside a fireplace,” he explains. Enter Amaro Sfumato Rabarbaro, the perfect smoky-yet-herbal pick for a fireside situation. Produced by Antica Erboristeria Cappelletti, which was founded in 1909, this earthy-yet-refreshing amaro offers the perfect happy medium between alpine-influenced expressions and darker, smoke-driven flavors.

James explains that Amaro Sfumato Rabarbaro is made from a variety of smoked roots, herbs, and vegetables. “This one is definitely pretty intense, but I feel like it is a dream, especially at Cote after a big meal of grilled meats,” she says. Note: Sfumato comes from the Italian word for smoke, fumo; every bottle of Amaro Sfumato Rabarbaro is produced on-site by Luigi and Maddalena Cappelletti, who represent the family’s fourth generation of distillers. 

Price at the time of publish: $25

Region: Trentino, Italy | ABV: 20% | Tasting Notes: Rhubarb, potting soil, alpine herbs, smoke 

Best for Spritz

Cardamaro Vino Amaro

Cardamaro Vino Amaro


For a unique, wine-based amaro, look no further than Cardamaro. James describes Cardamaro as a “vinous version” of amaro, and really the only wine-based amaro that’s widely available on the US market. “The Cardoon element from the Monferrato hills also really speaks to a sense of place,” she says, describing the amaro as a “super elegant yet rustic expression of bitterness.”

On the palate, expect vegetal-forward flavors of quinine and wood, as well as a finish quite reminiscent of oloroso sherry. Flynn reveals that Cardamaro is one of her favorite amaro choices due to its “velvety feel and lower ABV,” describing it as great in a Spritz with a twist of lemon. 

Price at the time of publish: $25

Region: Piedmont, Italy | ABV: 17% | Tasting Notes: Vegetal, quinine, wood, sherry-like

Final Verdict

Braulio tops our list of best amari because it is beautifully complex, versatile, and a favorite of beverage professionals around the world. For an approachable yet luscious amaro, you can sip as a digestif or even mix into your favorite cocktails, try Averna Amaro from Sicily.

What to Look For

Flynn explains that there are “so many ways to enjoy amaro,” citing that lower-ABV and wine-based styles are great on the rocks with a twist or added to bubbles to make a spritz, while the more spirit-forward and bitter amari are great neat after dinner. “Amari can be incorporated into cocktails of all styles depending on the desired impact of the drink,” she says. Garcia sums it up simply superbly, “A good amaro should be a perfectly balanced drink of sweetness and bitterness.” 


What is amaro and how is it made?

Amaro is an herbal liqueur most often consumed after a long meal, so as to aid with digestion. These liqueurs are produced by macerating a variety of roots, barks, citrus/fruit peels, and/or flowers with neutral distillate (or in rare cases, wine) to infuse their flavors into the base. While the term amaro is technically only used for Italian herbal liqueurs, similar-style products have long been produced in Germany, France, and other places in Europe.

Is amaro sweet?

Generally speaking, no. Amaro translates to bitter in Italian, and while some amari can certainly boast sweet notes, the overarching profiles of these herbal liqueurs tend to err more on the bitter side of things.

What’s the best way to drink amaro?

The versatility and bitter components found in amaro make it perfect for mixing into a variety of cocktails and spritzes, though they are just as often consumed on their own, both neat and over ice.

Does amaro pair well with food?

While amaro can certainly pair well with certain foods (cheese, for example), these herbal liqueurs are generally best enjoyed after a meal.

Why Trust

Vicki Denig is a wine, spirits, and travel journalist based between New York and Paris. Her writing regularly appears in major industry publications, including, WineSearcher, Decanter, and beyond. Vicki also works with a prestigious rolodex of monthly clients, including Paris Wine Company, Becky Wasserman & Co, Corkbuzz, Provignage, and beyond. She is a Certified Specialist of Wine. When not writing, Vicki enjoys indoor cycling classes and scoping out dogs to pet in her local parks.

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