Amaretto is an Italian, almond-flavored liqueur packed with flavors of marzipan and caramelized sugar. Amaretto, in Italian, is a diminutive of the word amaro and directly translates to“a little bitter”.
The word is derived from the Latin name of the bitter almond, Mandoria amara. Amaretto has been made in Italy for centuries and was originally produced in Saronno, a town just outside Milan, according to experts.
Back in the day, amaretto was formerly made with bitter almonds but in more recent years is produced from essences of apricot stones, peach and cherry stones which garners most of its flavor.
The almond and marzipan flavor that you experience when sipping on this sweet delight is derived from essential oils, specifically the phenolic compound benzaldehyde which is contained in these fruit stones which has a flavor similar to almonds.
Other flavor notes that you get when you take a sip of this amber liqueur include caramel or burnt sugar, which gives this drink its beautiful color and sweetness.
The complete flavor profile of this drink includes bitter and nutty notes, as well as a hint of sweetness.
The level of sweetness is something that varies across brands and quality, and often more expensive brands contain additional flavor notes such as vanilla, adding another layer of complexity to the drink.
The drink can be served in a variety of ways and is a great addition to any home bar. It can be served as an after dinner digestif over ice or neat, as a dessert drink, and it also pairs well with coffee in Italian coffee liqueur cocktails or in other cocktails such as the Amaretto Sour.
Amaretto compliments martinis and adds complexity to vodka and whiskey based drink. Its versatility is endless and can also be used in cooking and baking for a sweet nutty element added to dishes.
Amaretto is equally beloved and misunderstood by many.
Long underappreciated, amaretto provides the perfect pour for sweet moments amongst friends and family. Knowing which amaretto to buy can be tricky, especially if you want a quality tipple added to your bar.
While there are a few well-known brands on the market today, there are a wide range of variations available too, including ones that are nut-free and non-alcoholic.
This guide details the best amaretto drinks out there and hopefully can be of help to get you to know which amaretto is best for you and your needs.
Best Amarettos – Our Top 10 Choices
With an ABV of 28%, Disaronno is the OG of amaretto and is probably the most well-known and famous in the world. Produced first in 1535 in Saronno, in the Lombardy state of Northern Italy, the liqueur still carries the name of its origins with “Disaronno” meaning “from Saronno”.
Although it hasn’t referred to itself as amaretto since 2001, it is still recognized as one of the best and is a product that is always consistent. It is highly regarded as an industry standard, and you won’t struggle to find it as it is widely available.
Its secret recipe is produced with apricot stone essential oils, alcohol, burnt sugar and contains “pure essence from over 17 different herbs and fruits.
The result is a liqueur of sweet and nutty flavors combined with hints of marzipan, dried fruit and cherries. The herbal bouquet really comes to life over some ice in a chilled glass or in an Amaretto Sour.
It is a great product and is super versatile, adding depth of flavor to cocktails such as espresso martinis (see also: Espresso Martini)or even in a hot coffee, as well as in savory and sweet dishes.
When testing this product, we loved: the prominent dried fruit and burnt sugar taste along with its versatility of use in cocktails, sweet and savory dishes.
If you are on a budget but still are after a quality amaretto, the Amaretto di Amore is for you. Meaning the amaretto of love, the liqueur itself is packed with burnt caramel and sugary almond flavor.
It is a dark mahogany color and has a sweet and syrupy palate but is not overly cloying, with an almond flavor that packs a punch. This leaves you with a thick and intense finish on the drink without it being overly sweet.
It can be enjoyed on the rocks or neat, but is a perfect sweet addition to any cocktail. It is imported into the USA by Sazerac and di Amore offers a range of Italian liqueurs such as sambuca and limoncello, not only amaretto.
Likewise, it is an affordable and wildly available and for its affordable price, it is a great addition to any home bar.
When testing this product, we loved: its syrupy finish and affordability
For 120 years, Gozio Amaretto has been produced at the small-scale, independent or boutique establishment of the Distillerie Franciacorta in Gussago (Brescia), Italy.
The liqueur has been crafted using the same secret recipe and same laborious method of production ever since they opened their door resulting in a high quality product in every bottle.
Gozio Amaretto is an all natural amaretto made with almond, peach stones and apricot pits. The peach stones give the liqueur a distinct canned peach flavor, accompanied by notes of almond and brown sugar.
It has no artificial extracts or flavors added which makes it one of the most premium amaretto out there.
The Gozio Amaretto has a pale hue and is smooth and light on the palate, with an extremely defined bouquet of almond and caramel. It is a choice option if you are looking for something special and a more delicate amaretto option.
When testing this product, we loved: its authenticity and how it stays true to original production methods.
Caffo Amaretto is distilled using 100% Sicilian almonds, grown on their own estate, and has been made by the Caffo family as now, a fourth-generation family business, for over 200 years at the foot of Sicily’s Mount Etna.
The family has been distilling a variety of spirits since they opened their doors including sambuca, limoncello, amaro and of course, amaretto.
The family recipe of this full-bodied amaretto has been passed down from generation to generation and the delicious liqueur exudes flavors of marzipan, brown sugar and dried cherries.
The Sicilian almonds are macerated and then infused with Calabrian herbs to develop a rich and bright flavored amaretto that is sweet but not over powering.
It is authentic, does not have a hint of artificial flavoring, and does not break the bank either. Sipping on this over a few blocks of ice will immediately transport you to the shores of Southern Italy.
When testing this product, we loved: that it is made out of 100% Sicilian almonds.
Founded in 1858, the Hiram Walker distillery has been making quality spirits, like amaretto, affordable for all. The amaretto produced by this distillery is Canadian in origin and although this sounds unusual, the price and the quality and distinction of flavors is second to none, and you definitely would not mind having this over an Italian version.
What is great about this amaretto is its availability, as it can be found in almost every liquor store across the country.
The amaretto itself is made out of almonds and apricot kernels according to a traditional recipe. It has notes of caramel, spice and of course, almond and gives a rounded finish at the end of your sip.
When testing this product, we loved: its price for the quality.
The family owned Luxardo company was founded in 1821 and has been producing their famous maraschino cherry liqueur alongside their luxurious amaretto ever since. The distillery has faced many hardships during its lifetime, including being destroyed in bombings during WW2. Despite this, the distillery has continuously produced liqueurs of an exceptionally high standard.
Their amaretto is a premium on which is best suited for a special occasion. The liqueur is made of cherry, apricot, and peach pits and stones, respectively and boasts bold flavors of sugared almonds, vanilla bean infusions and baking spice – without the use of artificial or essential oils.
According to Luxardo, the key to a great amaretto is the presence of the bitter almond taste accompanied by a pleasant, velvety aftertaste, such as vanilla. This results in a liqueur that has a depth of flavor and delivers notes like toffee and marzipan, as well ass charred orange peel.
When testing this product, we loved: the notes of vanilla and spice.
Although this unique recipe for amaretto came to existence through Amaretti Chiostro di Saronno cookies presented to the King of Saronno in 1786, the liqueur was only commercialized in the 1850s.
What distinguishes this amaretto from the rest is that instead of using herb and fruit ingredients or essences, the cookies are used. The Amaretti Chiostro di Saronno are baked, crushed and then soaked in alcohol. The resultant infused alcohol is then mixed together with other secret ingredients to make a light-palated, bright copper colored liqueur.
Notes of sweet almonds, biscotti and grilled nuts with hints of citrus and marzipan, are apparent when sipping on this delicate liqueur. This award-winning amaretto liqueur is a must-have for any home bar.
When testing this product we loved: its unique method of production, using cookies and the taste of biscotti in the liqueur.
Find a store on Adriatico
This relatively new kid on the block, this premium alternative amaretto embraces artisanal values without the hefty price tag. It is made with only the finest natural ingredients and is produced from Puglian vegan-certified roasted almonds.
The roasting of the nuts accentuates the nutty flavors, and the liqueur offers up a bevy of bold flavors with a hint of sweetness. Although it is difficult to find in the USA, it is well worth the effort of seeking it out. Adriatico also make a Bianco version which uses crushed white almonds as a base.
When testing this product, we loved: the roasted, nutty almond flavor.
This heritage brand that has been around since about 1695, the DeKuyper family distillery has been using its 300 years worth of experience to not only craft some of the best spirits, but also one of the finest amaretto out there.
With its strategic location in Rotterdam, it has always been an easy location for importing ingredients from all different countries whilst being able to export their finished products back.
The amaretto itself is a unique recipe and deviates from tradition with the addition of vanilla extract and lemon distillate, giving the final liqueur a sweet and fresh flavor profile. It is affordable and is a wonderful addition to any cocktail.
When testing this product, we loved: its unique addition of vanilla and lemon to the recipe which gives added depth of flavor to the amaretto.
The last amaretto on our list is one like no other. It is alcohol-free (that means it has less than 0.5% ABV), gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free and fully vegan. This amaretto is suitable for the whole family and goes perfectly over desserts such as vegan ice cream.
It is packed full of almond flavor and is not too thick or sweet, making it a perfect base for many cocktails.
When testing this product, we loved: that it is alcohol-free and suitable for vegans.
Now that you know more about the 10 best amarettos that are available to buy online, it is time to narrow down your choice. Whether or not you have tried amaretto before, there are a few things to consider before making an addition to your home bar.
One of the first things you should consider is your budget. If you have a higher budget, than you can afford one of the more premium bottles of amaretto.
The more expensive and premium brands of amaretto, like the Luxardo Amaretto di Saschira Liqueur or Gozio Amaretto Liqueur or even Caffo Amaretto, use more authentic methods of production and ingredients.
In contrast, if you are on a budget, there are plenty of brands such as the DeKuyper and the Amaretto di Amore that deliver quality flavor without the cost.
Another thing to decide is what kind of flavor profile you are after from your choice of amaretto. If you want something traditional or authentic, the Disaronno Originale Amaretto, Adriatico Amaretto and the Luxardo Amaretto di Saschira Liqueur would be your best bet.
If you are hankering for something different, then the DeKuyper or Hiram Walker Amaretto would be better suited for you.
Then it may be helpful to understand what you want out of the amaretto. Do you want to use it in creating luscious desserts? Then the Lyre’s Amaretti or the Lazzaroni Amaretto would fit the bill. If you are wanting something that is suited for cocktails only, then the Hiram Walker and Adriatico Amaretto is great.
However, if you are wanting to sip on something and savor it slowly, then obviously buying one of the more luxurious brands is the key. Keep in mind that most amaretto are sweet and nutty, so make a choice that works for you.
Another thing to consider is that as you have read before, not all amaretto are made from almonds and the choice and combination of ingredients is what decides the flavor profile of the amaretto.
Most amaretto producers have a rich history and have been producing the liqueur for centuries, so the quality is second to none. Whatever makes you decide on buying a particular bottle, you will be rewarded with a quality product either way.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Best Way To Drink Amaretto?
Amaretto can be enjoyed in a cocktail such as an amaretto sour or just paired with coffee or coke. It can be paired with coffee and chocolate in desserts or over ice cream. It also pairs nicely with most peach schnapps cocktails.
Most importantly, it can be enjoyed chilled neat or on the rocks with a twist of lime or lemon.
How Long Does Amaretto Last?
Unopened, amaretto can last up to two decades provided that it is kept in a cool, dark and dry place. Once it is opened, the bottle can last up to five years without going off. If the amaretto has any off, sour or bitter tastes, you will know that it has gone off and best be replaced, but it is doubtful that an opened bottle will last that long.
Where To Buy Amaretto?
In the 1980s the USA was abundant with amaretto as it was extremely in vogue at the time and so could be found in just about any liquor store, anywhere in the USA.
By the 21st century its popularity started to wane a bit until the resurgence of cocktail culture which revived the dwindling amaretto market and the internet has certainly helped.
You will easily find amaretto on Reserve Bar, Amazon and especially on Drizly who has the widest selection of them all. However, if you are ever in doubt, just hit up your local Italian restaurant, and you will be sure to find some variation of amaretto there.