Amaretto adds Italian touch to Valentine’s

It’s given the world the Screaming Orgasm and is a liqueur steeped in legend and romance.

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Whatever it’s mixed with, Amaretto adds an Italian accent to any recipe through its combination of apricot pits, herbs, alcohol and burnt sugar.

The amber liqueur’s origins can be traced to the northern Lombardy town of Saronno. The original Amaretto Disaronno (pronounced Dee-saronno not Diss-aronno) dates back to 1525 with the name meaning “from Saronno” and Amaretto a diminutive of amaro which translates as “a little bitter”.

In true Italian style the creation of Amaretto is a love story.

The legend goes that a pupil of Leonardo da Vinci was commissioned by the Saronno church to paint a fresco of the Madonna of the Miracles. To portray Madonna, the artist Bernardino Luini chose a beautiful young innkeeper with whom he fell passionately in love. As a mark of her affection the woman presented him with a gift of apricot kernels in brandy, and Amaretto was born.

The innkeeper’s closely guarded recipe was passed down over generations and during the early 20th century, Domenico Reina rediscovered the recipe and opened a store in the heart of Saronno. Reina’s store is widely credited as where Disaronno Originale was first sold commercially.

Disaronno is also famous for its distinctive Murano-designed square flask which was first introduced in 1942.

Primarily an after-dinner drink, Amaretto can be used for desserts such as tiramisu and even added to enhance the flavour of chicken and meat dishes.

Whatever your choice, Amaretto’s aroma and flavour oozes European mystique and is a pleasurable Valentine’s Day tipple.

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Here are two cocktails for Valentine sweethearts keen to practice their mixology skills.

The ‘three Rs’ cocktail uses Spain’s Freixenet Cordon Rosado with Amaretto to tantalise the tastebuds:

ROSE, ROMANCE & ROSADO

25ml Amaretto, three fresh strawberries, Freixenet Cordon Rosado.

Half fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Muddle the strawberries and pour the puree in the shaker. Add the Amaretto and shake well. Strain into a chilled martini glass and top with Freixenet Cordon Rosado. Garnish with an edible rose petal.

For those looking for something more indulgent with a sweet finish, try the retro Screaming Orgasm.

THE SCREAMING ORGASM

38ml Vodka

38ml Kahlua

38ml Amaretto

38ml Baileys Irish cream liqueur

38ml Double cream

38ml milk

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into glass filled with crushed ice. Tip: use a high quality vodka as cheap vodka can cause the Bailey’s to curdle.

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