The creator of barrel-aged gin, fruited and coffee liqueurs, and eau de vies has recently debuted yet another revolutionary new product: a Texas amaro. And Revolution Spirits is pretty sure it’s the first Texas amaro ever introduced.
Most known for its year-round Austin Reserve Gin, Revolution Spirits hasn’t been able to stop tinkering in its modest distilling space in the Hill Country, near boozy neighbors Argus Cidery and Last Stand Brewing. As a result, the distillery now has the Amico Amaro available for purchase at the tasting room, open every Saturday, and within the next week or two, the amaro will be found at stores as well as a full-time product, like the gin.
Revolution co-owner Mark Shilling said it was one of the more challenging projects he and his small team have taken on.
“In the end, we exceeded our goal, creating a bitter liqueur that not only tastes great in a classic cocktail, but also by itself as an aperitif,” he said. “It stays true to classic bitter components, while using hints of botanicals such as sumac and orange to add brightness and subtle sweetness.”
The distillery created the amaro, a bitter liqueur, following Italian tradition. In Italy, amaro is typically enjoyed as an aperitivo, a complex liquid mixture of herbs and roots that is designed to awaken your palate for the meal to come, and Revolution Spirits wants it to be sipped in a similar fashion — for the most part.
Although Italians often drink amaro neat, the distillers who made Amico Amaro (which, by the way, means “bitter friend”) suggest pairing it with sparkling water or sparkling wine “to open up the complexities from 12 carefully selected ingredients,” Shilling said via email. Or it’s a worthy companion to Revolution Spirits’ own Austin Reserve Gin in a Negroni. (Just swap it with the typically used Campari.)
Amico Amaro contains a variety of ingredients, from hops normally found in beer to common food items like orange peel and cranberry.
The recipe was developed, Shilling said, to highlight “the bitter components without overwhelming drinkers who aren’t as attuned to bitterness as some might be. We accomplished this by first choosing 5 different bittering ingredients that hit on different aspects of bitterness.”
For example, he said, “cinchona and gentian offer stronger bitter notes as roots, while the hops (provide) balance with a softer character and the witch hazel and blessed thistle give a more astringent and vegetal bitterness. On top of this we layered bright, acidic notes like hibiscus and sumac, with middle notes to fill in the gaps: fennel, damiana and charred cedar.”
The remaining ingredients, the fruit of orange and cranberry, help to soften the sharp acidic elements and contributed depth to the sweetness of the final item, sugar.
But don’t try and pick out each individual flavor within the amaro. That’s not the point, he said.
“Unlike our Austin Reserve Gin, where we wanted to highlight each individual botanical note, Amico Amaro is about the sum of its parts,” Shilling said. “We wanted to create lots of depth and complexity without having any one note dominate or distinctly stand out.”
Revolution Spirits is opened from 1 to 7 p.m. on Saturdays, although you should check social media or the website, at revolutionspirits.com, to make sure that’s when you can show up for tours and tastings. Hours can vary.