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The Five Best Amaro Liqueurs for Making a Black Manhattan

black manhattan

Does your Manhattan taste stale and doesn’t tantalize your tastebuds anymore? You should try out the Black Manhattan made from Amaro liqueurs. “Amaro” is an Italian word that means bitter. Subsequently, Amaro liqueurs stands for the bitter-sweet style of liqueurs originating from Italy. A black Manhattan-Amaro liqueur cocktail should have a mild-bitter taste and aromatic herbs which will leave your tongue wagging and throat begging for more. To achieve a black Manhattan with a unique flavor and herbal aroma, it’s important to check the qualities of each liqueur. A black Manhattan laced with Amaro liqueur cocktail should bear the following characteristics:

  • A whiskey should accompany it
  • Bitter-tasting
  • Slightly sweet
  • Rich and warm
  • Smell like herbs, spices and other botanicals
  • Have an alcohol strength as low as 16% alc/vol or be over 40% alc/vol

Whether you’re a beginner at preparing cocktails or have tried it before and failed miserably, these Amaro liqueurs will help you customize your black Manhattan like a connoisseur.

5. Cardamaro (For a woody-sweet Manhattan)

Cardamaro is a wine-based aperitif, laced with cardoon and thistle, and aged in oak. While it might not fit anywhere around Amaro’s standards, the reason it features on this list is its rich botanical flavors. Its rich and sweet vermouth taste is all thanks to wormwood and thistle. It has nothing to do with cardamon. You can sip it neat, on the rocks or as a black Manhattan cocktail. Either way, we’ve created the perfect recipe you should try out this coming weekend, holiday, or night-out.

What You'll Need

  • 2 ounces of Rye
  • 1 ounce of Cardamaro
  • 1 teaspoon of smoked tea vanilla soup
  • 1 teaspoon of raft botanical cocktail
  • 1 teaspoon of soda water syrup
  • Cardamom bitters


  • Step 1: Mix all the ingredients plus ice cubes in a cocktail mixing bottle or glass.
  • Step 2: Strain the cocktail in a glass
  • Step 3: Add a big ice cube to the mixture and serve

4. Ramazzotti (For a touch of cola and Jack)

Ramazzotti is a classic liqueur that can swap rye with the bourbon, and dry vermouth in the place of sweet. If you’re a sweet-tooth, you will love some bit of coke and root beer in this cocktail. It also contains pantry spices in the Amaro like chicory, cinnamon and gentian pickup from rye’s natural flavors.

What you’ll need

  • 1- ½ ounce of Pumpernickel
  • ¾ ounce of 100-proof rye whiskey
  • ¾ ounces of Punt e Mes
  • ¾ ounce of Ramazzotti
  • 7 dashes of Angostura bitters
  • Garnish: expressed lemon peel


  • Step 1: Using a glass or cocktail bottle, mix the Pumpernickel, rye whiskey, Punt e Mes, Ramazzotti and Angostura bitters. Add a few ice cubes to the cocktail.
  • Step 2: Sieve or strain in a Coupe glass
  • Step 3: Garnish the lemon peel at the tip of the glass. Enjoy your cocktail.

3. Sfumato (For a light and smoky Black Manhattan)

According to the Thrillist, “Sfumato” is an Italian word loosely translated as “smoky.” This liqueur won’t make you feel like you just got hit by a train. It makes you feel light-headed, more like taking two shots of tequila. The sfumato-Manhattan combination goes well with edible flowers.

What you’ll need

  • 2 ounces of Pikesville Rye
  • 0.75 ounces of Sfumato
  • 0.25 ounces of Lemon Juice
  • 0.25 Yellow Chartreuse
  • 7 dashes of hibiscus bitters


  • Step 1: Add all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker or glass with some ice cubes. Shake for 20-30 mixtures
  • Step 2: Strain the ingredients into a cocktail glass
  • Step 3: Garnish it with palatable flowers

2. Fernet (For the darkest of Manhattan)

Fernet is not only dark like the nightly skies, but also the most bitter. You don’t want that astringent flavor burning your throat. This Amaro brand contains a combination of bitter herbs and spices. It has an alcoholic content ranging between 40% and 45%, making it an ultra-bitter liqueur brand. Unless you want to take it neat, there is no reason you shouldn’t sweeten it using the recipe below:

What you’ll need

  • ½ an ounce of Fernet-Brancaa
  • ½ an ounce of green chartreuse
  • 1 teaspoon of simple syrup
  • 2-3 dashes of lemon peels


  • Step 1: Pour equal parts of Fernet-Branca, green chartreuse, lime juice, and simple syrup into a cocktail shaker. Add ice cubes to the mixture. Shake until the ice melts in.
  • Step 2: Strain the cocktail into a coupe glass
  • Step 3: Garnish it using a lime peel if you like

1. Averna (For a regular Black Manhattan taste)

Averna is a popular Amaro liqueur that you can use in place of vermouth, since it’s dark-brown and has a spicy-herbal flavor. It belongs to the family of Italian herbal liqueurs with a bitter taste. It’s existed as an Italian brand since 1868. According to A Couple Cooks, Todd Smith, a bartender at the Bourbon Branch in San Francisco, invented the Averna- Manhattan cocktail in 2007. Upon sampling a few glasses, professional liqueur tasters loved its flavor, not forgetting its herbal aroma. Today, many black Manhattan enthusiasts have expressed their appreciation for Todd’s recipe.

What you will need

  • 1 ounce of Averna Amaro
  • 2 ounces or 60 ml of rye whiskey or Bourbon
  • 1 dash of Angostura bitters
  • 1 dash of orange bitters
  •  Brandied cherry


  • Step 1: Get ice cubes. Mic the rye whiskey, Averna, Angostura bitters, and orange bitters into a mixing bottle or glass. Stir with a spoon or gently shake the mixture until the ice melts with it (30-40 seconds).
  • Step 2: Sieve or strain the well-chilled mixture in a coupe glass
  • Step 3: Garnish it with the brandied cherry


Whether you’re hosting a happy hour or having your friends over for a truth-or-dare session, knowing the liqueur combinations that make a good black Manhattan is crucial. It starts by gathering everything you require and mixing them in the correct proportions. Now that you have at least five Amaro brands to try out, how about you choose which one suits your needs. Better still, try out all of them and decide which one appeals to your tastebuds.

Lily Wordsmith

Written by Lily Wordsmith

Lily Wordsmith is a freelance writer who has had a love affair with the written word for decades. You can find her writing blog posts and articles while sitting under a tree at the local park watching her kids play, or typing away on her tablet in line at the DMV. In addition to her freelance career, she is pursuing ebook writing with an ever-growing repertoire of witty ebooks to her name. Her diversity is boundless, and she has written about everything from astrobotany to zookeepers. Her real passions are her family, baking desserts and all things luxe.

Read more posts by Lily Wordsmith

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