By Carey Jones and John D. McCarthy
Updated October 20, 2014
Credit: © Carey Jones

When it comes to liqueurs, you can't get much more throwback than amaretto. And while we're betting you've heard of an amaretto sour, odds are you haven't explored the almond liqueur much further than that.

There's much to love about this classic Italian liqueur; when used right, it adds a rich, nutty flavor to any number of cocktails. While Disaronno is the best-known brand, we're partial to the more complex, almond-y flavors of the amaretto made by Luxardo. It's worth seeking out for the best versions of these three simple drinks.

Easy: Amaretto and Ginger


Faintly sweet, pleasantly nutty amaretto is a slam-dunk with ginger beer, whose vibrant spice helps cut the sweet, rich liqueur. Since there are just two ingredients in this drink, it's worth using a great brand like Fever Tree, whose dry, sophisticated mixers are perfect for this kind of simple highball.

Instructions: In a tall glass with ice, combine an ounce and a half of amaretto with four ounces of ginger beer. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Intermediate: The Susquehanna


While due to its powerful, distinctive flavor, amaretto is often best in small doses, it can also stand up to powerful spirits like dry, spicy rye whiskey, Here, we're using Rittenhouse 100-proof rye, whose spice perfectly cuts through the sweet almond liqueur.

Instructions: In a mixing glass with ice, combine two ounces of 100-proof rye, an ounce of amaretto, and a dash of Angostura bitters. Stir well — for at least 30-60 seconds, until well-chilled — and strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Garnish with a lemon peel, twisting it over the drink to spritz its citrus oils on top.

Advanced: Amaretto Sour


Plenty of inferior amaretto sours have graced this world — generally with a heavy pour of prefab "sour mix." Simply swapping that out for real lemon and sugar makes this drink a hundred times better, and the addition of an egg white, better still. Egg white in cocktails is never for the taste; rather, for the texture, contributing lift and body.

Instructions: In a cocktail shaker without ice, combine two ounces of amaretto, an ounce of fresh lemon juice, half an ounce of simple syrup (equal parts sugar and hot water), and one egg white. Shake that all up hard without ice (that's called a dry shake). Add ice and shake again hard. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish, if you wish, with brandied cherries.