Friday, August 8, 2014

The Bitter Truth

OK, I just tested my batch of Amaro. The herbs have been soaking in grain alcohol for about a month now. After filtering, the color is an odd sort of greenish brown, it smells like jet fuel, and has an acrid, bitter taste that causes your nostrils to flare and tastes like you just licked fresh, hot asphalt.

In other words: It's perfect.

My sevilla orange peels arrived this afternoon, and I added about 8 grams of fresh chocolate-mint from my garden, and 16 grams of peels. I will most likely need to cut the bitterness by diluting with brandy. I'm shooting for something close to Amaro Nardini, with licorice, mint, orange, and a chocolatey finish. I'm using Iris root instead of actual licorice root, as there are several potential health issues from real licorice. And I believe they're using a dark caramel syrup base, probably with black-strap molasses instead of corn syrup.

 I think I'll call it Amaro Nonrico.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Like most good Mad Scientists, you need an island in the middle of the ocean. Mine grows grapes.

Still job hunting in Miami, so after waiting for the workmen to come fix my leaky closet, I headed up to Total Wine and More to drop off a resume. It is a goal of mine to eventually own my own wine shop, preferably on a beach somewhere, and I can think of no better place to learn the retail business end of the wine world than from them. I send people there frequently in various cities by pulling up their store inventory from their website and telling them on which aisle to find the wine they want. Their selection is amazing, rivaling the better restaurants in Miami. And their prices are quite good. Now they need one somewhere closer to Midtown Miami, if not for my OWN commute, for my own shopping. The best wine selection in THIS area is Publix (with second place going to Buena Vista Chocolate and Wine....tiny, but they sell wine AND chocolate! Need I say more?)

Total Wine in North Miami 
Buena Vista Chocolate and Wine, just north of the Design District

Speaking of which, today's purchase was a bottle of Argiolas Costera, which could almost be described as Sardegna's answer to Côtes du Rhône: Mostly Cannonau (Grenache) with a little Carignano (Carignane) and Bovale Sardo (a Cinsault-like wine grape....I'm assuming the sub-varietal is Sardo, since Bovale Grande is usually accepted to be Carignane anyways.). I'm a big fan of Sardinian wines for their spice and mineral, and of  Côtes du Rhône for it's usually humble versions of some of the greatest wines in France. Remember when everyone had a CdR on their winelist instead of the now required Malbec or Merlot? I used one on several of my lists in NYC, and found the placement quite welcome by the true wine lovers. 

Oh, by the way,  Aisle 5, on the right, bottom row.  

Saturday, July 12, 2014

I've started running a bit low on my homemade Black Cherry Amaro, and with the recent loss of a gall bladder, I find the potent herbal qualities of the Gentian and Wormwood REALLY help my stomach. I still have quite a bit of my Blueberry Mirto (Gentian and Rosemary) but I find the effects of the more traditional style a better curative. Amazingly so. And that IS what they used it for originally.

Well, that and arthritis, depression, whooping cough, parasites, syphilis, and the plague. 

I also find it quite useful for Manhattans, although those weren't invented until the late 19th Century. 

I based the original batch on a 14th-century Italian monk's recipe, which I dug out of a scanned latin tome on Google Books, doing my best to translate as I went. I ran up to Total Wine & More for a bottle of grain alcohol (although last time I used Kirschwasser, TW&M didn't carry my brand) to start another proper batch.

And because a proper batch of amaro takes at LEAST 3 months to produce, I bought a bottle of a classic, Ramazzotti, to hold me over until then.