Amaretto is an Italian sweet almond-flavored liqueur. It is made from a base of apricot or almond pits, sometimes both.
Despite the known history on the introduction and acceptance of almonds into Italian cuisine, more recent takes on the origins of Amaretto have come about, further popularized by the major commercial brands. Though of sometimes questionable truthfulness, these tales hold a sentimental place in Italian culture.
In 1525, a Saronno church commissioned artist Bernardino Luini, one of Leonardo da Vinci’s pupils, to paint their sanctuary with frescoes. As the church was dedicated to the Virgin Mary, Luini needed to depict the Madonna, but was in need of a model. He found his inspiration in a young widowed innkeeper, who became his model and (in most versions) lover. Out of gratitude and affection, the woman wished to give him a gift. Her simple means did not permit much, so she steeped apricot kernels and almonds in brandy and presented the resulting concoction to a touched Luini.
Amaretto may be served neat (by itself) or on the rocks (with ice). It is often added to other beverages to create several popular mixed drinks. It is also a popular choice of liqueur to add to coffee in the morning or evening.
- 1 Cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 Cup water
- 2 dried apricot halves
- 1 Tablespoons almond extract
- 1/2 Cup pure grain alcohol and
- 1/2 Cup water
- 1 Cup brandy
- 3 dr yellow food coloring
- 6 dr red food coloring
- 2 dr blue food coloring
- 1/2 teaspoons glycerin
- Combine sugar and 3/4 Cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer until all sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and cool.
- In an aging container, combine apricot halves, almond extract, grain alcohol with 1/2 Cup water, and brandy. Stir in cooled sugar syrup mixture. Cap and let age for 2 days. Remove apricot halves. (Save apricot halves, as they may be used for cooking). Add food coloring and glycerin. Stir, recap and continue aging for 1 to 2 months.
- Re-bottle as desired. Liqueur is ready to serve but will continue to improve with additional aging.
- Variation: For a more prominent 'bitter almond' flavor, add 4 apricot nuts,** split in half, to basic mixture. Leave in for 2 days to 2 weeks depending upon depth of flavor desired. Remove and discard apricot nuts. Continue as directed.