Amaro, Amari, Digestif, Bitter, Nonino, Santa Maria Al Monte, Fernet, Ramazzotti, Caffo Vecchio Amaro Del Capo, Levi Dalton, Joe Campanale, John Slover, Sommelier Recommendations, Amaro Recommendations, What to drink, Values in the Liquor cabinet, Liquor recs, Digestivi



Sommeliers recommend how to end your night on a bitter sweet note.

Leave it to the Italians, who "mangiare per vivere e non vivere per mangiare" (eat to live, not live to eat) to devise the perfect solution for digestion. Amaro, plural amari, translates to "bitter," but it can bring you sweet harmony when you've had too much "pasta fazool."

Amari are typically produced by macerating herbs, roots, flowers, bark, and citrus peels in alcohol. The herbal liqueur can be served straight up, over ice, or mixed into a cocktail.

Levi Dalton, wine director at Alto (NYC), loves amari for its link to history. "Amari contains the flavor memory of distant vistas. This was how distilling came about; folks finding possible curatives and unique flavor combinations. Before air travel, it was a chance for folks in Milan to have a fernet with the quinine from Peru."

Joe Campanale, sommelier at dell'anima, Anfora, and L'Artusi (NYC), and John Slover, wine director at Bar Henry (NYC) also opt for amaro as after-dinner digestifs.

There are over 300 different kinds of amari, but here's a short list of some favorites from Levi, Joe, and John.

Amaro Ramazzotti (~$20 / Find It)

From Milan, an aromatic amaro with orange peels and a finish of fresh ginger.

Caffo Vecchio Amaro Del Capo (~$20 / Find It)

Made from an ancient family recipe of 29 Calabrian aromatic herbs and roots. It has intense, earthy, herbal notes and is Levi Dalton’s "perennial favorite."

Meletti (Silvio) Amaro (~$16 / Find It)

Produced in Ascoli-Piceno in Marche since 1873. Saffron’s included as an ingredient in this amaro and it comes through as you taste it, along with notes of violets and citrus.

Nonino Amaro Quintessentia (~$38 / Find It)

A great summer amaro from Friuli. It's lighter, elegant and smooth, made with grappa, aged in oak barrels for five years, and has a sweet orange taste.

Paolucci Amaro CioCiaro (~$17 / Find It)

The product of an authentic recipe from the "Ciociaro" region of Italy, created by the Paolucci family in 1873. Serve it straight as an after dinner drink, on the rocks, or with seltzer after as aperitif. It makes a great punch when served at room temperature with lemon peels.


The Fernet style amari tend to be stronger, with more bitter and intense flavors.

Fratelli Fernet-Branca (~$30 / Find It)

The classic and original Fernet, made in Milan from 27 herbs, roots and spices from 4 continents, it’s aged in oak casks for over a year.

Fernet Prodotto d’Italia Da Peloni (~$47 / Find It)

A personal favorite of Levi’s is the mild and complex Fernet d’Italia by Da Peloni. “It has a sasparilla root note to it that I really love.” He enjoys this type in the cooler fall months.

Santa Maria Al Monte (~$34 / Find It)

From Genoa, a Fernet style amaro in the sense of bitterness, but it’s balanced with a  herbaciousness and sweetness, with a touch of mint.

The Digestif Sommeliers Drink

F.E.D. Travel Guides
Find a travel guide »../../../../../guide/download_guides.html../../../../../guide/download_guides.htmlshapeimage_16_link_0