Amaro Delight: The 6th Borough Cocktail

I have a confession: I’ve fallen in love with amaro. I may or may not have bought several bottles just in the last month. Not only are they great for sipping on their own, they also can be excellent for making cocktails. As a result of my new found love I can promise you’ll see more amaro cocktails on this site.

Amaro is an Italian bittersweet herbal liqueur. The word amaro is Italian for “bitter.” Different countries (including the U.S. – more on this later) have their varieties but to be a true amaro, the liqueur must be from Italy. Many Europeans drink amaro neat, often as a digestive before or after a meal. The beauty of amari (plural for amaro) is their flavors span the spectrum of bitter to sweet and mild to smack you in the face. 

Secrecy is the primary ingredient in amaro. Of all the brands I know, none of them share their recipe with the outside world. Sure you might learn of a particular root here, a flower or citrus there, but you'll never see the full list of ingredients. Typical amaro is produced by macerating these unknown ingredients in alcohol (neutral spirits or wine) and combining with sugar before aging.

There are hundreds of unique amari around the world. A few of the more famous varieties are Aperol, Averna, Campari, Cynar, Fernet-Branca, and Ramazzotti. Many of these companies trace their production back to the early 19th century.

Now that we know a little more about amaro, let’s take a look at a cocktail that combines the sweetness of Nonino Amaro with the herbal flare of Green Chartreuse.

The History

The recipe for The 6th Borough cocktail comes from the former general manager of the Zahav Restaurant in Philadelphia, Max Shapiro. It was published in Imbibe Magazine in 2009.

The Recipe

Stir all ingredients together in a mixing glass with ice. Strain into chilled coupe glass. Garnish with orange twist.

If you're searching the web you may run into a second cocktail with the same name. Unfortunately, an Australian bartender also decided to name his own cocktail The 6th Borough. His recipe calls for Basil Hayden’s, Lillet, Amer Picon (another amaro), and orange bitters and was published online over a year after Shapiro’s recipe. They do have Google in Australia right? Shame on you, Aussie bartender.

The Execution

A few notes on The 6th Borough:

  • Nonino Amaro has a delicious orange and vanilla sweetness followed by a kick of bitterness.
  • Chartreuse is a French liqueur made by the Carthusian Monks since 1737. We actually haven’t covered it on this blog. Since I rattled off so much about amaro, we’ll have to discuss it in further detail later. My bad.

If you haven’t tried amaro before, pick up a bottle of a brand mentioned above. Or better yet, join us Monday, October 27 as we visit BroVo Spirits to sample their local amaro. We’ll learn a lot about the history and distillation process as well as try some of their other unique liqueurs.

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to comment below, email, or hit us up on social media. No question is too basic!