About Liqueurs from Italy

About Liqueurs from Italy
Any discussion of spirits in Italy must begin with grappa, a powerful product distilled from left over grape skins and seeds that is produced all over the country. While the basic grappas can be rough and fiery, there are a handful of firms, especially in the north, that craft refined, artisanal versions that offer more delicate aromas and subtle flavors. Often packaged in strikingly-designed glass and crystal bottles, many of these dazzling products have now taken their rightful place alongside designer spirits at glamorous bars in London, Paris, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. Amaro, a digestif, is a popular liqueur, made everywhere in Italy; each version is produced from a special recipe of herbs and spices. These tend to be dry, with some being slightly bitter. Finally, two other Italian spirits that have become quite popular in America include Amaretto, a sweet liqueur made from almonds, and Sambuca, a dry spirit made from anise seed.

Top Picks for Italy


Cynar 70 Bitter Liqueur
95 points
Mahogany color. Aromas of white pepper, bitter roots, and aloe vera with a slightly chewy, crisp, moderately sweet medium body and a smooth, captivating, medium-length cocoa powder, sweet carrot, carob, angelica, and black tea finish. A chewy, potent Bitter Liqueur for Black Manhattans and Last Word riffs.
Awards: 2021 Best Bitter Liqueur
Molinari Extra Sambuca
94 points
Steely clear color. Aromas and flavors of anise seed and fennel and celery stalks with an oily, vibrant, sweet fat body and a hot, delightful, very long finish with notes of black licorice and rock candy, straw, and coleman’s fuel. A bold anise liqueur with unmistakable Sambuca style.
Averna Amaro Siciliano Liqueur
94 points
Brown black color. Aromas and flavors of rosemary, black tea, chicory, cacao nibs, cedar, anise, and menthol with a glycerous, lively, very sweet medium-to-full body and a graceful, layered, long finish with suggestions of black coffee, chocolate-covered caramel, charred nuts, and cinnamon Danish finish. A rock solid bitter liqueur with bold aromas and a silky smooth, balanced palate.
94 points $30.99
Galliano Ristretto Coffee Liqueur
93 points
Best Buy
Dark brown color. Aromas and flavors of candied fennel seeds, espresso, tarragon, black pepper, and cereal grains with a chewy, vibrant, light-to-medium body and a tingling, layered, long finish that shows touches of spiced coffee, molasses, and hits of roasted nuts. An herbaceous and distinctive Coffee Liqueur that offers something deliciously different to the coffee or absinthe lover.
93 points $19 Best Buy
Disaronno Originale Liqueur
92 points
Amber color. Aromas and flavors of apricot kernel, ripe amerada cherries, hints of brandy, and candied grapefruit with a round, vibrant, very sweet full body and a polished, engaging, long finish with shades of hints of roasted coffee beans and spiced cream. A rich and round Amaretto that offers great depth, balance and length.
Maestro Café Caffé Cream Liqueur
92 points
Creamy mahogany color. Inviting aromas of tiramisu, sweet Turkish coffee, and milk chocolate shake with a creamy, vibrant, very sweet fat body and a stimulating, medium-long whipped cream, shaved chocolate, chocolate flan with espresso beans, and hints of aniseed finish. A deliciously balanced Cream Liqueur with craveable coffee and cream flavors.
Foro Amaro Speciale Liqueur
92 points
Mahogany color. Aromas and flavors of cola, licorice, orange zest, tiramisu, and chamomile with a round, crisp, fruity medium body and a smooth, easy finish conveying suggestions of chocolate-covered figs, alpine herbs, and orris root finish. A rich and round amaro that’s exceptionally well balanced.
92 points $28.99
Braulio Amaro Alpino Liqueur
91 points
Best Buy
Bronze color. Citrusy aromas of spruce tips, lemon verbena, and basil with a satiny, crisp, fruity medium body and a tingling, interesting, medium-long sweet marzipan, juniper, spiced tea, and peppermint finish. An herbaceous and cooling Bitter Liqueur that brings a distinctive pine tone to your cocktail repertoire.
91 points $24 Best Buy
Faretti Biscotti Liqueur
91 points
Golden amber color. Roasted aromas and flavors of roasted hazelnut. fennel, cashew, anisette biscotti, almond macaron, candied orange peel, old fashioned donut, and coconut cream with a velvety, crisp, sweet light body and a smooth, refreshing, medium-length finish that shows elements of mocha and caramel finish. A rich and appealing hazelnut liqueur to slip into coffee cocktails for a decadent treat.
91 points $28.99
Cinzano 1751 Vermouth di Torino Rosso
89 points
Best Buy
Bronze color. Earthy aromas and flavors of carob, fresh orange zest, eucalyptus, orris root, cassia, and cedar with a satiny, crisp, fruity sweet medium-to-full body and a smooth, refreshing, medium-long finish with notes of cola. A bittersweet Vermouth with brooding flavors of carob and herbs; try in a spritz, whiskey cocktails and more.
89 points $8 Best Buy