Posted on May 1, 2014
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The sweet but also slightly bitter Italian liqueur, Amaretto. is a study in dual meaning. Known as being almond-flavored, it is actually made from apricot pits. Two tales of its origin both stem from great love of a couple in Saronno. The Italian language lends to the confusion that Amaretto comes from amore and the romantic history of the liqueur, whereas amaretto literally means “a little bitter” in Italian.

In one tale, a pupil of Leonardo di Vinci was asked to paint frescos in the sanctuary of the church in Saronno in 1525. The artist, Bernardino Luini, asked his young, widowed innkeeper to be his model for the Madonna. Legend has it they fell in love. As a gift to him, she steeped apricot kernels in brandy and presented the drink to him. The story goes on to say her original recipe has been passed down from generation to generation without alteration and is currently marketed as the most well-known Amaretto, DiSaronno Originale Liqueur.

The Lazzaroni family of Saronno also lay claim to being the originators of Amaretto. In the 1700s, the family invented delicate almond/apricot cookies. Amaretti cookies are used in dessert recipes to this day.. In one version of the story, the cookies were created for the king of the region. In another version, a young couple was blessed by the bishop with the family recipe. In 1851 the Lazzaroni family began producing Amaretto liqueur from an infusion of their cookies with a little caramel for color.

Amaretto is versatile in that it may be served neat (straight up), on the rocks (over ice), as part of other cocktails (Cuban Breeze or Amaretto Sour), served in coffee, or used in recipes from crepes to Tiramsu.


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