My buddy Brad wrote a bitter book
I was in Brooklyn last week to eat pizza with an old friend. He and his wife are more than 100 pies deep in complete from scratch Sunday night pizza parties. Pre-Greenpoint-subway-oddessy, wanting to be a reasonable guest and thinking of pizza, I decided to bring a bottle to dinner. So I popped down to a swanky village liquor store and asked
“Hello, do you have any grappa that is any good ?”
They pointed to the same dusty 3 brands of, “no grape named”grappa in pretty bottles yet are poorly distilled shit that makes people hate grappa. Smirking like a first class elitist asshole, I queried
“How’s your amaro selection?”
They then pointed out what I’d call a “bitter Milano candy store,” and I picked up a bottle of Sfumato Amaro Rabarbaro, a good tonic and grapefruit. I thought, “yeah, this hasn’t been in America too long, sure to impress.”
Revealing my spritz bounty to my hosts I was told,
“Oh yeah, we just got a bottle of this.”
Because that is where we are with amaro in America right now. In just 10 short years, we’ve gone from frowning while downing and mispronouncing Fernet Branca to civilians being up on new imports in toasted rhubarb liqueurs.
And that is why Brad Thomas Parsons wrote AMARO: The Spirited World of Bittersweet, Herbal Liqueurs. Well that and that like me, he is a member of the clean plate club and good eaters like a little something to punctuate a meal.
AMARO is a checklist & shopping list, a road trip that gives voice to creators of amari, a greatest hits cocktail book of the past few years of the resurgence of bitter drinking and it’s photographed beautifully by Ed Anderson. Brad, Ed and I met up about a year ago (because that is the time frame the publishing world) to make and photograph a few cocktails for this book. One of mine featured inside is the Elena’s Virtue— a drink created to emulate the flavors of a Mai Tai yet is bereft of rum. The Elena’s Virtue is made solely with Italian liqueurs. AMARO chronicles a shift in thinking for the bar world in which cocktails can be lower alcohol, use a spectrum of bitterness to bring guests in and add a new base spirit to cocktails: bitter liqueurs.
If you have had praise for any “brown, bitter & stirred” cocktail over the past few years, need to understand how we went from a taste for Manhattans to lop sided Torontos or want to know what the former part of this sentence means, then by Brad’s book.