Amaro is a type of Italian aperitif¹ or digestif² that has a herbal and bittersweet flavor profile. Although each brand of amaro will have a different taste and strength, they all have a common “bitter feel” to them; a flavor that has been popular in Europe for decades but is only just starting to catch on in the United States.
If you need amaro in your next cocktail or a recipe calls for it, then you can buy a bottle online or from your local liquor store. Some of the more popular brands are Aperol, Campari, and Fernet Branca. However, if you only need a splash of amaro for a dessert or a couple of shots to use in cocktails, then you may want an alternative option. We've pulled together our favorite amaro substitutes so that you can get by without the original ingredient. Let's take a look at your options now.
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What can I substitute for amaro?
The best substitutes for amaro are Gammel Dansk, Chartreuse, Bonal, and Cynar 70. If you need a no/low alcohol replacement, consider using Chinotto or Angustoro Bitters. Any substitute will provide a different flavor but in most cases, they won't be out of place in whatever you are trying to make.
1. Gammel Dansk
Gammel Dansk is a type of bitters that originated from Denmark back in 1961. The recipe for this product comprises 29 different herbs and spices including seville, cinnamon, ginger, and star anise. It is delicious, sipped on its own after a meal.
Translated from Danish, Gammel Dansk means “Old Danish”. We love this product and put it at the top of the list of amaro substitutes.
2. Bonal Gentiane Quina
Bonal is a moderately sweet aperitif that is an infusion of herbs like cinchona bark and gentian added to a fortified wine base. Another key ingredient is quina. If it sounds familiar, then it should because this is the source of quinine. It is this ingredient that is extremely bitter and gives Bonal a flavor that is similar to sweet vermouth and amari.
This liqueur is different from amaro as it has a strong taste of cherry, plum, and licorice.
Chartreuse has a unique sweet taste that is also pungent and spicy. It has a strong herbaceous flavor profile and is best compared to herbal liqueurs like Liquore Strega or Galliano. This liqueur comes in two shades, green or yellow. The latter is sweeter, milder, and has a lower alcohol content. Either option can be used in classic cocktails like Bijou and Last Word.
You will find that Chartreuse has a more pungent and vegetal flavor and is less bitter than amaro, but it will still slip into any recipe that calls for the original liqueur.
4. Cynar 70
Cynar 70 is another bitter-tasting liqueur that has a range of flavor notes from orange peel and dark chocolate through to cinnamon. This product is similar to Jägermeister and has a much higher proof than Campari or similar amari.
Chinotto is Italy's answer to Coke and is a good non-alcoholic option for replacing amaro. It is produced from the juice of the myrtle-leaved orange tree and has a bittersweet taste. This is a tasty choice if you are making mocktails for the kids or adults wanting to cut alcohol out of their diet. Keep in mind that this beverage has caffeine so don’t go overboard on the stuff!
6. Angostura Bitters
Angostura Bitters is a popular ingredient used in mixology and is a concentrated form of bitter-tasting liquid. Although this product contains alcohol, only a few drops are required to flavor a drink. This means it gets diluted and is a good option for anyone wanting a beverage that's very low in alcohol content.
Be sure to also check out our handy list of ways to substitute Angostura bitters in cocktail making.
Dry vermouth differs from other amari in that it is a wine-based aperitif rather than being grain-based. It has a strong citrus flavor and is also sweeter than your average bottle of amaro. Some classic cocktails you can make with vermouth include The Manhattan, The Martini, and The Negroni.
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If you enjoy a snifter or two after dinner of fine liqueur then a bottle of Amaro is a good option. This is especially the case if you love bitter drinks that are high in alcohol content. But, buying an expensive, imported bottle of Italian liquor won't be for everyone. If you need an amaro substitute then Gammel Dansk, Bonal Gentiane Quina, and Chartreuse are all suitable options. Naturally, they will all have their differences, but they all share one common feature - bitterness. If you're getting into mixology and you need something with a bitter punch then any of these replacements will do a fine job.
What is your favorite cocktail of all time? Please let us know in the comments below and we will give it a try!
1. Aperitif: a drink served before dinner.
2. Digestif: drink served after dinner,
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