Mint Julep made with Amaro Nardini

I recently picked up a bottle of Amaro Nardini at the urging of my friend, Michael, who exulted its fine qualities. I had tasted it once before and was excited to try it in some cocktails. For those unfamiliar with Amari, (plural of Amaro), they are a group of regional bittersweet Italian liqueurs usually drunk as a digestivo.

Amari can vary wildly in flavor, bitterness and sweetness from brand to brand. The limited selection we get here in the U.S. only gives us a slight glimpse of what Amari from a certain region in Italy might taste like. There are reportedly hundreds of Amari in Italy, some are only made on a small local level. Often the region from where it is made can be a hint of what style of Amari is made there.

The Nardini distillery hails from Bassano del Grappa which is situated northwest of Venezia (Venice). As Nardini’s hometown name suggests the company is most well-known for their Grappas. A bit of research revealed that the region around Venezia was known for their lively herbal Amari which is certainly a good omen.

On the nose the Nardini starts off with subtle caramel which feels weighty. Then, you pick up licorice, a hint of deep rose and a mint finish. The mouthfeel is velvety and medium-bodied similar to Averna. Flavors of mint and subtle orange dance around the tongue with a hint of clove. Floral and herbal layers have a pleasant licorice finish. Truly a well-balanced and quality product, Nardini has quickly climbed the list to be one of my favorite Amari.

Now it was time to try it in a cocktail. I had recently picked up some Elmer T. Lee bourbon to make quick use of the massive amount of mint I have growing in my cocktail herb garden. A Nardini-spiked Mint Julep was in order! The resulting drink was delicious, the herbal nature of the Nardini played well with the Bourbon and mint. So well, in fact, that I had a hard time putting the drink down and keeping my wife away from it.

Nardini Mint Julep
2oz Bourbon
1/2 oz Nardini Amaro
1/4 oz – 1/2 oz Simple Syrup (to taste)
6-8 Fresh Mint Leaves

The key to any cocktail that uses fresh mint is to not bruise the mint and express the bitter parts of the mint leaf. That’s why I don’t ever suggest using a muddler with mint in any drink. Take the mint leaves and put them in the palm of your hand, then, give the mint a hard smack with your other hand. This is all that is needed to express the oils out of the mint. Drop your newly spanked mint into an old fashioned glass and pour all the ingredients in. At this point, stir just to get things mixed up nicely. Then put enough crushed ice into the glass leaving yourself at least a 1/2” of space at the top, you don’t want it too full otherwise it will spill when you stir. Now give the julep a good long stir with a bar spoon to get the appropriate level of ice melt. Fill the glass with crushed ice until it’s completely full. If you have good crushed ice you can even make a little crushed ice mound at the top which is customary for traditional juleps. Finish with a float of Nardini on top, garnish and enjoy!

For more cocktails ideas with Amaro Nardini Michael Lazar did a great writeup on his blog for the Negromaro.

2 comments to “Amaro Nardini and the Nardini Mint Julep”

  1. Mr Manhattan

    Sounds really good, Fil. I’ll have to give this a try.



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