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Memories of Fall: Apple Brandy and Cardamaro


In almost every mixed drink I have encountered, there is a perishable ingredient, something that is just slightly inconvenient to keep fresh and on hand. If it isn’t fresh citrus juice, it is fortified wine, and if it is neither of those, it is some kind of dairy ingredient. Even an old fashioned cocktail, or a Sazerac isn’t really complete without a slice of fresh citrus peel. David Embury divided mixed drinks into two broad categories:  Sour and Aromatic, the former depending upon sour citrus juice, and the latter depending upon fortified wines and bitters.

There are other mixologists with other ideas, but at the end of the day you’re pouring sugared and flavored ethanol, and it’s not as if all of these categories exist in some discoverable form in nature, the way subatomic particles do. Anyway, fortified wines will live a lot longer in your fridge than fresh lemons will in your fruit bowl, and it is both easy and refreshing to make a drink that contains only spirits.

I think many drinkers neglect the aromatic style, either because they mistakenly believe that they dislike vermouth, or because they have never seen how rewarding an aromatic cocktail can be. Technically speaking, only aromatic mixed drinks are cocktails, and only a subset of them, for that matter. Last Thursday I was in the mood for an aromatic drink using apple brandy, and I invoked my favorite 6:3:1 formula for a quick tipple.

Memories Of Fall

1.5 oz Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy
.75 oz Cardamaro
.25 oz Allspice Liqueur (homemade)
dash of angostura bitters

Stir over ice and strain into a coupe glass. Drink in the Spring time.

This was a warming drink, and it felt like something you would sip on a crisp fall afternoon. I made this drink several weeks ago, when it was still technically spring, so it was deliciously out of season, not because the ingredients were unseasonal, but because the flavors were. The Cardamaro lent a round, herbal flavor to the sip, which was complimented by spiced apple on the swallow.

9 thoughts on “Memories of Fall: Apple Brandy and Cardamaro

  1. Now that I know what amaro tastes like (I just bought my first bottle yesterday – Ramazzotti), and based on what I assume allspice liqueur (I assume this is the same as allspice dram?) would taste like, I really want to try this drink. It sounds delicious!

    However, am I mistaken in assuming that Cardamaro is similar enough to Ramazzotti to allow me to assume what it tastes like? Or is it significantly different?

    • Most amari are actually similar enough that you could substitute one for the other, but unfortunately, cardamaro is actually a fortified wine, so it is very different from any other Amaro I have tried. Amaro substitutions: Ciociaro, Ramazotti, and Montenegro are all close enough to each other that you could trade one for the other. Gran Classico, Averna, and Nonino are pretty similar, as well. They all have their nuances; Ramazotti has a flavor of blood orange, Nonino and Averna taste like caramel, but Averna has a more burnt flavor. Montenegro tastes like bubblegum. Bonal Gentiane QuinQuina and Cardamaro are also passably similar.

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