Baby, it’s cold outside. In response, cocktail menus all over the country are shifting to accommodate our thirst for darker, headier drinks. The common denominator in these cocktails is amaro: the category of centuries-old Italian digestifs that are at once sweet and bitter, with flavors that hint at licorice, mint and menthol. Try one of these amaro-centric cocktails this month.
1. Hobnail, Teardrop Lounge, Portland, OR
At Portland’s seminal Teardrop Lounge, the “Alumni” cocktail menu features drinks from bartenders who’ve flown the coop. The Hobnail comes courtesy of Beckaly Franks, who now tends to The Pontiac bar in Hong Kong, but the drink’s warmly bitter notes are well suited to the Pacific Northwest climate. Get the recipe.
Down south, Pinewood Social Beverage Director Matt Tocco riffs off of the classic Negroni with Stranger in the Alps. Its gin base means it’s lighter than many winter cocktails, and it uses Braulio, an Italian Alpine amaro, that Tocco describes as “bitter, minty, and contains eucalyptus, so it smells like pine trees.” Perfect for a winter drink. Get the recipe.
3. Fall to Pieces, Southern Efficiency, Washington, D.C.
Inspired by Patsy Cline’s hit song, Southern Efficiency’s perfectly proportioned Fall to Pieces combines classic fall flavors—apple, baking spice, vanilla—in spirit form. Bar manager Paul Taylor says the Cline metaphor extends all the way to how the drink should be consumed. “The spirit-forward nature of this cocktail makes for a beverage that should be enjoyed slowly over a period time, thus the connection to the tempo and cadence [of the song].” Furthermore, “although it may be a reach,” he says, “I love all these ingredients, but at times they have not loved me. In Cline’s song she talks about her lover’s repeated rejection of their relationship, and how she does not understand why.” This drink might help ease the pain. Get the recipe.
4. More Cowbell, Marlowe, San Francisco, CA
At Marlowe, the drink menu is cleverly divided between Classics and tongue-in-cheek categories like “Professions” (The Butcher; The Baker; The Candlestick Maker). Amaro bites through an otherwise spritzy drink called More Cowbell (found under “Tools”). Get the recipe.
At the gloriously restored Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, the formerly private wood-paneled dining room is newly open to the proletariat. On the Cherry Circle Room’s stately house drink menu are slow, dark sippers like the Thistle, created by decorated beverage director Paul McGee, which combines amaro, Calvados, rye and sherry, who particularly likes the cocktail because it pairs well with food. Get the recipe.