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While France boosts to have more than one kind of cheese per day, Italy may offer thousands of the so bitter digestive spirits called “amari” (plural for “amaro”). Each ‘amaro’ is brewed to a unique proprietary (and often secret) recipe that varies according to regional traditions and ingredients. At their base is a mix of herbs, roots, flowers and other ingredients (everything from artichokes to orange peel) all left to macerate in a neutral spirit before being distilled. ‘Amari’ are normally consumed in Italy at the end of a meal for their digestive qualities. They are an essential part of the Italian way of living and eating traditions.
Also, as Italy has a lot of different microclimates, the different amari reflect these climates and what grows there.
For many years Italian ‘amari’ were very little known abroad, and mainly consumed by Italian emigrates. Then, the particularly bitter Fernet-Branca became a big success in San Francisco and immediately the craze for all Italian ‘amari’ started spreading around the US.
Now Italian ‘amari’ are invading the world, becoming an ingredient for cocktails and the natural completion of any modern restaurant menu. Among the best known brands, we may mention Fernet-Branca, China Martini, Nonino, Averna, Cynar, and Rabarbaro Zucca.
A booming market is emerging in the spirits trade.
For a recent article see http://modernfarmer.com/2014/12/amaro-amour/
We also own italianamari.com