Best Spirits You've Never Heard Of
© Lawrence Marcus


What It Is: Cardamaro is an atypical amaro: Its base spirit is Moscato wine instead of the usual grain alcohol. Made in Italy’s Piedmont region, Cardamaro is flavored with two members of the thistle family: cardoons, an artichoke-esque plant with a nutty flavor, and blessed thistle, an extremely bitter plant that was used in the Middle Ages to treat the bubonic plague.

What It’s Like: Unlike many of its stronger cousins, Cardamaro is supremely sippable. It has a tawny port quality to it, thanks to its wine base, with a light vegetal quality and a bright, slightly bitter finish—that’s where the thistle and cardoon show themselves.

How to Drink It: Cardamaro is too mild to fight with stronger spirits. Drink it on its own over ice, or add soda water to make a super-refreshing, low-proof cocktail.

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