Italian for “bitter,” amaro is an herbal liqueur that can be an acquired taste. Of the many brands from Italy, like Campari, Averna, and Fernet-Branca, some can be served on their own as digestifs, while others are mixed into cocktails, such as the Aperol spritz and the negroni. Houston’s Coltivare Pizza & Garden (3320 White Oak; 713-637-4095) built its drink menu around amaro and stocks more than forty varieties. This cocktail from bartender Julie Rogers is light and refreshing for neophytes but also complex enough to appeal to the seasoned amaro drinker.
1 ounce Punt e Mes (an Italian vermouth)
1 ounce Amaro Nardini
¾ ounce lemon juice
½ ounce Avua Cachaça
¼ ounce rich simple syrup (double the amount of sugar to water)
2 dashes orange bitters
2 ounces dry sparkling wine
Shake all but the wine in a cocktail shaker, double strain into a coupe, and top with wine. Garnish with an orange twist.