The amaro craze continues with the launch of Brucato, a collection of three amari made in San Francisco with a heavy reliance on California-grown botanicals. The trio of expressions are markedly different, but all are widely versatile, able to be used as an aperitif, digestif, or — my pick — as a cocktail ingredient or tall drink mixer.
Ready to delve into the bittersweet belly of California? Let’s go.
Brucato Amaro Orchards – Dominant ingredients include apricots, walnuts, Meyer lemon, orange, and cinnamon. Immediately unlike any other amaro I’ve tried, the fruit-laden nose is redolent of cinnamon, mixed fresh stone fruits, cocoa powder — and especially dried figs, taking on a sort of stewed prune note with time in glass (although there are apparently no figs included in this recipe). Even more fruit-laden on the palate, the fig character is wholly dominant, complemented by notes of bittersweet chocolate and dried apricots, then finally some brewed tea notes. Another shift is in store as the experience finishes up: licorice, some light caramel notes, and lingering spices that fold in relatively modest bitterness. Cinnamon and cloves cling to the throat alongside a more traditional bitter gentian character, though increasingly ripe fig notes really tend to dominate. I really warmed up to this over time; it’ll be perfect when the weather gets colder. 46 proof. A-
Brucato Amaro Woodlands – Primarily infused with elderberry, cocoa nibs, black fig, and citrus. The good news is that I’m not crazy. Woodlands — which is made with figs — tastes a lot like figs. I would not say it’s heavier with fig than Orchards, however, which you can chalk up to the additional ingredients in the mix here. Particularly on the nose, aromas of dark chocolate and coffee are readily noted, with notes of fresher figs and some blood orange evident. While darker and more brooding on the palate, the amaro has a lot of familiar DNA to Orchards, including tea leaf, tempered by cola and coffee. The chocolate character is quite bitter, with a coffee ground element present, though the overall impression isn’t as biting as you’ll find in most traditional Italian amari. The finish is where Woodlands starts to suffer a bit, coming across as a little weak and lifeless in comparison to the exuberant Orchards. Imagine dropping a healthy splash of water into a classic Italian amaro and you’re on the right path. 42 proof. B+
Brucato Amaro Chaparral – Chaparral is a much different animal than the above, intended as a Chartreuse substitute/clone, a job which it reasonably completes thanks to its greenish-yellow color and much higher abv. The primary ingredients are yerba santa (a California native herb with a distinct bittersweet flavor), spearmint, and cardamom. Sure enough, notes of mint are quick to inform the nose, along with a general earthy quality that is grassy and slightly floral, with overtones of saffron. The anise notes of Chartreuse are present on the palate, not so much the nose, alongside a considerable white sugar sweetness. Increasingly medicinal as it develops on the tongue, the liqueur can take on a vegetal character that, when paired with the heavy mint and eucalyptus notes, can unfortunately evoke NyQuil from some angles. The finish is pungent with herb-infused sweetness, lingering for a bit too long for my taste. It’s workable as an alternative mixer if the Chartreuse has run dry, but I’d say it’s perhaps more comparable to genepy for most cocktailing uses. 92 proof. B+
each $35 / brucatoamaro.com