Monday, May 18, 2009

MxMo XXXIX: Amaro

Well, so far, I'm about 3 for 5 on the Mixology Mondays for the year, despite my New Years resolution. This month, our host is Chuck Taggart over the Gumbo Pages, home to tons of great stuff (and my main source for restaurant recommendations in New Orleans at Tales last year).

Our theme this month is Amaro, and Chuck advises this "refers to the bitter liqueurs usually drunk as an after-meal digestive, either alone (neat or on the rocks) or in some kind of mixed drink or cocktail...wherever somebody drinks a bitter liqueur, that's a source for your drink this month."

Open that Bottle
I figured this was a perfect opportunity to open up that bottle of Amer Picon that I conned one of my former coworkers into dragging back from Paris for me awhile back. Derek and I had been in Paris, and I tried a "Picon Biere," whi
ch was essentially a pilsener with a shot of Amer Picon in it. I happened to like the drink, while Derek despised it. Then when we got home, I read up on Amer Picon a little, and figured I ought to get my own bottle. Unfortunately, I wasn't going to Paris anytime soon, but my friend Bill was.

Bill dragged it home for me, and there it sat. For awhile. Guess I got distracted, or read these about how this version is a shadow of the pre-1970's version, or I was focusing on other spirits, or whatever, but I found it again a couple of months ago and vowed to open it soon. Plus, I picked up a bottle of Torani Amer when I was in San Francisco last month, so I wanted to taste them side-by-side.

About Amer Picon
Amer Picon appears in many old cocktail books, although it disappeared from the US market a long time ago and is difficult to find except in parts of France. It's a bitter (and sweet) liqueur, with orange notes.

After some research, I determined that Amer Picon is now owned by Diageo, and there are actually two versions - Picon Biere (intended to be mixed with beer) a
nd Picon Club (intended to be mixed with wine). The spirit goes back to 1837 according to their website, and they don't mention the formula change.

I have the Club version, so I'll have to try it with wine sometime. For today, I tried a classic Picon cocktail with both versions of Amer.

Picon Punch
2 oz Amer Picon or 1 1/2 oz Torani Amer
1/4 oz Real Grenadine
Club Soda
1/2 oz Brandy

Pour Picon and grenadine over ice, top with soda nearly to the top. Stir briefly to chill. Top with a float of the brandy. Garnish with a lemon curl.

With the Torani Amer, it is much more bitter and potent so I backed it down a little to my taste. The Torani has twice as much alcohol and stronger bitter notes. Both were very interesting, though, and I'll be experimenting more with them.

I definitely want to try the Hoskins Cocktail that Chuck posted on his blog awhile back, and I found many others to try. Unfortunately, I am out of time if I want to meet the midnight deadline!

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