Twilight Amaretto Sour

We love our desserts and we love our cocktails, but we don’t really like our cocktails to taste like dessert. When the flavors of the spirits are overwhelmed by sugar, a cocktail just isn't very interesting (at least not interesting to us). Last summer we were asked by a family friend to make an amaretto sour and, after briefly considering mixing up one of those soda-pop sweet cocktails, we talked her into something else. Thinking back on it, we felt a little bad - we really should have risen to the occasion and put our creativity to the test. 

A couple of weeks later we saw a piece in the New York Times food section (When Bad Drinks Go Good, August 2017) about how bartenders are taking on the challenge of improving classic cocktails that have a poor reputation. For the Amaretto Sour, the suggestion was to cut down on the amaretto and add some cask-proof bourbon to the mix. So, we reached into the back of the liquor cabinet and pulled out that dusty bottle of Disaronno to give the recipe from the Times a try. It was still too sweet for our taste. A little amaretto goes a long way.

Not to be deterred, we sat down in front of the computer and did an exhaustive internet search (actually we just Googled "amaretto sour"). We discovered a recipe for the Twilight Amaretto Sour that uses equal parts bourbon and amaretto. Unfortunately the recipe also calls for lemon-lime soda (Sprite or 7-Up). Needless to say, we didn't even try that one. Adding the base ingredient of a Shirley Temple certainly isn't the right way to elevate this cocktail. It seemed like our first instincts were right - the amaretto sour was never going to be a part of our repertoire.

Recently, our friends at Keep it Simple Syrup sent us some samples of their products. We decided to take another stab at the amaretto sour using their lemon zest simple syrup, along with fresh lemon juice, in order to boost the "sour" component.  Like the Twilight Amaretto Sour, we used an even ratio of bourbon to amaretto. A good quality bourbon makes all the difference here - we used One Eight Distillery's Untitled Whiskey No. 9. We also added some citrus bitters to help cut the sweetness. All of this tweaking tipped the balance in just the right way, and gave us a cocktail that we aren’t afraid to serve. It's no longer "Sugar Plum Fairy" sweet, but we think it's a good cocktail for the holidays. Maybe that's because (prior to this amaretto sour odyssey) we only used amaretto when baking Christmas cookies or tiramisu. Now we’ll be pulling it out for a round of holiday drinks. We'll also likely revisit this recipe in the warmer seasons - it would work equally well (maybe on the rocks) at twilight on a summer day.


Twilight Amaretto Sour

1 1/4 ounce good bourbon (we used One Eight Distilling Untitled Whiskey)
1 1/4 ounce amaretto (Disarrono)
1/2 ounce lemon simple syrup (Keep it Simple Syrup Lemon Zest Syrup)
1 ounce lemon juice
3 dashes of lemon bitters (Bitter Truth)

Shake all ingredients for 20 seconds with ice cubes in a cocktail shaker. Pour into a chilled cocktail glass. Twist an orange rind over the cocktail to release the oils. Garnish with cocktail cherry and orange twist.

Twilight Through the Window - original watercolor painting by The Cocktail Artist

Amaretto Sour - original watercolor painting by The Cocktail Artist

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