Amaretto, Italian for "a little bitter," is an almond-flavored liqueur known for its slightly nutty flavor. While sometimes served plain over ice, the liqueur is more popular as an ingredient in cocktails. As a staple in a well-stocked bar, amaretto comes in handy for making specialty drinks such as a bocce ball, a Cuban breeze, a cafe Caribbean and an Italian Manhattan.
Bocce Ball Basics
The cocktail version of a bocce ball always contains amaretto and orange juice; from there, it's easy to customize to suit your tastes or to try something new.
To make a bocce ball, pour 1 1/2 ounces vodka and 1/2 ounce amaretto into a Collins glass, or a tall, narrow glass that holds approximately 10 ounces. Add 8 ounces orange juice or enough to nearly fill the glass. Top it off with a splash of soda water to add a light, refreshing touch. Garnish with a fresh orange slice.
Make your own variation by using a flavored vodka, or by eliminating the vodka completely, instead using 2 ounces amaretto and ice, then filling the rest of the glass with orange juice and a splash of soda water or club soda.
A Cuban breeze gives you a refreshing taste of summer with a hint of almond. To make a Cuban breeze, add ice to an old-fashioned glass, and then pour in 1 ounce each vodka and amaretto. Top with pineapple juice.
Amaretto works equally well in warm drinks. To make a coffee-based cafe Caribbean, pour 1 ounce rum and 1/2 ounce amaretto into an Irish coffee mug. Fill the mug to just under the brim with hot coffee, and then add a dollop of whipped cream, ideally fresh-made. Sprinkle with shaved almonds for an extra touch of texture and flavor.
This twist on the classic Manhattan incorporates amaretto instead of vermouth for a completely different flavor profile. To make an Italian Manhattan, pour 1 1/2 ounces bourbon and 1/2 ounce amaretto into a cocktail shaker filled most of the way with ice. Add 1/4 ounce maraschino cherry juice from a jar of maraschino cherries. Place the lid on the shaker, and shake vigorously for a few seconds. Strain the drink into a martini glass, or use a rocks glass filled with ice if you prefer your drinks over ice. Garnish with one or two maraschino cherries, and a slice of orange for a touch of citrus.
- Pour reduced amounts of amaretto liqueur -- up to one-third less -- for a similar taste but lower potency.
- Amaretto liqueur may be sweet, but it's still pretty strong -- drink responsibly.
Kathy Adams is an award-winning journalist. She is an avid DIYer that is equally at home repurposing random objects into new, useful creations as she is at supporting community gardening efforts and writing about healthy alternatives to household chemicals. She's written numerous DIY articles for paint and decor companies, as well as for Black + Decker, Hunker, Kroger, SFGate and others.