• Home
  • Articles
  • The Golden Ratio: How To Balance The Bitterness In Aperitifs

The Golden Ratio: How To Balance The Bitterness In Aperitifs

The Golden Ratio: How To Balance The Bitterness In Aperitifs And Amari

Aperitifs are refreshing drinks traditionally sipped on before dinner to build your appetite for the sumptuous meal that would follow. These are generally very light but flavourful tipples with floral, herbal and botanical notes that prepare your palate for the different dishes you would enjoy during dinner. Aperitifs are consumed at a leisurely pace on slow evenings as daylight gives way to dusk and you take in the glorious orange, red and purple hues cast across the sky. These drinks reflect the calming twilight and are evidently a welcome after a long day of work.

Many times, aperitifs make use of amari or Italian herbal liqueurs embodying a botanical, herbal, and spicy profile. Amari are quite bitter and are usually added to cocktail recipes like negronis and amaro sour to introduce that lingering tart taste into the drink. Evidently, making a good aperitif or serving an amari by itself requires some skill because you need to adjust the bitter notes in the drink to make it palatable and tasty. And there are some handy hacks that can help you to navigate this process when you next play mixologist.

Here are some tips you can follow when you are preparing aperitifs in order to balance their bitterness to perfection:

Dilute In Water

One of the best ways to enjoy an amaro like pastis is to dilute it in water. This anise flavoured liqueur is often served with a side of cool water so you can keep on adding small amounts of aqua to your pastis glass to mellow down its bitterness. This way, you can also enjoy the different layers of flavour that unravel when you keep on adding a splash of water to the drink, causing it to turn cloudy. You can also use tonic water or sparkling water as variations to adjust the bitterness in other amari like aperol and pernod that are otherwise savoured either with water or on a bed of ice to tone down their bitterness.

The Golden Ratio: How To Balance The Bitterness In Aperitifs And Amari

Citrus Juices

Most aperitifs like a classic negroni or aperol spritz make use of certain citrus elements to undercut some of the bitterness in the amari used to prepare these concoctions. Citrus peels, zests and garnishes not only add a fresh and tangy quality to your cocktail but they also introduce a lot of acidity and sourness into the drink that undercuts some of the tart flavours inherent to liqueurs like campari or aperol. Use grapefruit, orange and lime juices in abundance for achieving a balanced finish in your aperitif recipes.

Floral Liqueurs

Another way to balance out the bitterness in aperitifs is to make use of certain floral liqueurs like elderflower or lavender whose fragrances introduce a light textural element into the drink.This give the concoction a fresh quality while reducing some of the overtly herbaceous and bitter botanical notes present in amari like campari or the artichoke based cynar liqueur used to prepare many interesting cocktails.

The Golden Ratio: How To Balance The Bitterness In Aperitifs And Amari

Herbal Garnishes

Sometimes, the best way to arrive at a stunningly balanced mix of flavours in an aperitif is to use refreshing and vibrant herbal garnishes which add a blast of rejuvenating flavours to the drink. This could be something as simple as a mint, basil or rosemary sprigs or even citrus peels for extra layers of flavour that tame down the tart notes in the amari with their spicy, cooling and umami textures.

Sweet Vermouth

A fortified wine made from different herbs and spices, sweet vermouth or Italian vermouth is a liqueur popular for its use in negronis and manhattans. You can use the subtle bitterness and the slightly sweet qualities of the liqueur to balance out some of the tartness in other amari like the campari or even gin when you are preparing aperitifs. Sweet vermouth also introduces more complexity into an otherwise bitter drink providing a very layered flavour experience through the pre dinner tipple.

This content is not available in your location