Ciao, Averna: 3 Great Cocktails With This Italian Liqueur

Photo: © Carey Jones

Maybe you like Campari, but only if it comes in a Negroni; maybe you've tried Cynar but it's just too bitter. So let us introduce one of the most friendly liqueurs we know: Averna.

Produced in Sicily since the 19th century, Averna is one of many Italian liqueurs known as amari. They range from light and sweet to profoundly bitter, but have a few things in common: They're generally consumed as an aperitivo before dinner to kick up the appetite, or a digestivo afterwards. And since they're made according to proprietary recipes, steeped with roots, herbs, and more, each one is unique.

So what's so great about Averna? It's got a rich, caramel sweetness that endears it to many drinkers, adding a pleasant, mellow weight to cocktails while still bringing all those cool intricate herbal flavors we love. Try it on its own, over an ice cube or in these three simple cocktails below.

Easy: Averna & Ginger Beer

We like ginger beer with sweeter liqueurs and spirits, since it lends a sharp bite. So it's little surprise that it gets along great with Averna.

Instructions: In a tall glass with ice, combine 1 1/2 ounces of Averna and 4 ounces of ginger beer. Garnish with a lime wedge, squeezing it into the drink.

Intermediate: Black Manhattan

We love any and all riffs on the Manhattan, and this modern classic is no exception — whiskey plus Averna, stirred together with bitters. While the original recipe used bourbon, we prefer slightly drier, spicier rye; Redemption's 92-proof rye is a great choice here.

Instructions: In a mixing glass with ice, combine 2 ounces of rye, 1 ounce of Averna, and a dash of Angostura bitters. Stir that all up until well-chilled, then strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a grapefruit peel.

Advanced: Averna y Tequila

Grapefruit's bittersweet character makes it an excellent companion to many amari, including Averna, and together, they take well to the sharp bite of tequila. Refreshing and drinkable like a margarita, but a lot more complex.

Instructions: In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine 1 1/2 ounces of silver tequila, 1 ounce of fresh grapefruit juice, and 3/4 ounce of Averna. Shake that up until well-chilled, then strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Garnish with a grapefruit slice.

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