Amaro is just a general name for a bitter, herbal liqueur traditionally served after a meal.
Gentian root can often be found at Latin markets and specialty herb shops. You can also order it online from companies such as Lhasa Karnak. Use the cut root, which looks like bits of bark, rather than the powdered variety. If you have another bittering agent on hand, such as cinchona bark leftover from making tonic, you can use that as a substitute.
If you can't get a high-proof neutral grain spirit like Everclear, use the highest proof vodka you can find.
- Yield:Makes about 4 1/2 cups
- Active time: 20 minutes
- Total time:5 to 6 weeks
- 1 teaspoon anise seeds
- 6 fresh sage leaves
- 6 fresh mint leaves
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves (about 1 sprig's worth)
- 1 allspice berry
- 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon gentian root
- 3 cups 151-proof neutral grain spirit (see note above)
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 1 1/4 cups water
Grind the herbs and spices (including gentian root) with a mortar and pestle until roughly broken up. (Or pulse a few times in a food processor.) Transfer to a sealable glass jar and pour in the alcohol. Let steep at room temperature for 3 weeks, shaking frequently.
After the initial steeping time, bring sugar and water to a boil at medium heat. Cook until sugar is completely dissolved, about 5 minutes. Let cool completely.
Pour cooled syrup into the steeped mixture, reseal jar, and let rest for an additional 2 weeks, stirring frequently. After 2 weeks, open jar and taste. If stronger flavor is desired, re-seal jar and allow to steep for an additional week.
Strain through cheesecloth to remove solids, then filter through coffee filter or fresh cheesecloth into a selable bottle. Store at room temperature for up to 6 months.