Monday, 25 October 2010


Human beings are divided, it seems, into two groups. Those who, as teenagers, or even more recently, enjoyed Amaretto mixed with lemonade before they moved on to adult drinks, like Babycham or Pimms, and those who went straight to cider, lager or scotch as their adolescent drink of choice.

Amaretto is a sweet, almond-flavoured liqueur, which is odd, because its name is derived from "amaro", the Italian word for "bitter", and it doesn't actually contain almonds. Or, at least, Disaronno Amaretto, the type you are most likely to have seen in your local gin palace, doesn't. So the nut allergic can safely consume it, so long as they aren't going to driving, or using heavy machinery.

You may have consumed Amaretto without being aware of it, as it is often used as an ingredient in tiramisu and also in miso soup (this is not actually true).

In drinking terms, it can be taken neat, on ice, in coffee, or a range of cocktails. We shall endeavour to explore a range of these over the next few days.

At Frankie and Benny's* in Colchester, of all places, K persuaded the waiter to go off menu and make an Irish Coffee with Amaretto. The result was extremely satisfying, the sweet, nuttiness of the liqueur perfectly complimenting the bitterness of the coffee. Even J, who is normally very rude about coffee, enjoyed a sip or two.

K is very nostalgic about the favourite cocktail of her youth, i.e. the Alabama Slammer they used to serve at Freuds in Oxford. Mind you, their nachos also used to seem like the most delicious thing in the world and I somehow doubt that they actually were so we have to make allowances for the student palate. As ever there seems to be some dispute about how to make the perfect AS but the core ingredients appear to be Amaretto, Southern Comfort, Sloe Gin and Orange Juice. K will track one down when the baby permits.

We would also like to thank Vigornian for his recipe recommendation. A number of individuals who spent a weekend in Malmesbury recently partook of Brandy (Martel VSOP) and Amaretto over ice, and all were in agreement that it was, to quote, "bloody marvellous".

* J is distraught to find out that the story of Frankie and Benny is a complete fiction, and 'their' first restaurant was opened in Leicester, rather than Manhattan.