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Bathtub Amaretto

One of my coworkers occasionally concocts some homemade liqueurs, most frequently making her own bracing version of limoncello. She recently turned her attention to amaretto, and, knowing how I enjoy a nipper every now and then, she gave me a little bottle.

It tasted quite good on its own — warm, dark, a bit syrupy, with a rich almond flavor at the back of the palate. And it’s actually quite easy to make:

Combine 1 cup water, 1 cup white sugar and 1/2 cup dark brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. After the mixture simmers and the sugar is entirely dissolved, remove from the heat and let cool about 10 minutes. Stir in 2 cups vodka, 2 tablespoons almond extract and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Let cool another 15 or 20 minutes before bottling.

I remembered back to the last time I had amaretto in any quantity. I was in undergrad, and I very foolishly overindulged on Amaretto Sours. Being drunk on something so sweet was most unpleasant, and I haven’t had much of an urge to sip amaretto since.

In college, we made Amaretto Sours with sour mix, that fluorescent green chemical brew of corn syrup and lime flavor. Even now, a Web search of “Amaretto Sour” will yield numerous recipes calling for this noxious liquid. But goodness, there’s enough sugar in amaretto already, as you can tell from the recipe above. There’s no need to add more.

Skip the green stuff and buy a couple of lemons instead:

Amaretto Sour

–2 parts amaretto

–1 part fresh-squeezed lemon juice

Shake the above ingredients with ice and strain into a martini glass.

And that’s it! The lemon juice cuts the syrupy texture of the amaretto while heightening the almond flavor. It’s a sweet, bright cocktail that really pops.

I browsed my New New York Bartenders Guide for other cocktails including amaretto, but most were too complicated to hold my interest (I draw the line at serving cocktails in hollowed-out pineapples).

The “Macaroon” caught my eye, however, because it contains chocolate-flavored vodka. I’ve had half a bottle of the stuff moldering in my liquor collection since some acquaintances brought it to a party years ago.

Here, finally, was a recipe including chocolate vodka without any cream! It does call for chocolate liqueur, but I preferred the simple combo of chocolate vodka and amaretto:

Macaroon

–4 parts chocolate vodka

–1 part amaretto

Shake the above ingredients with ice and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with an orange twist, or not.

This cocktail is sweet but not cloying, and the chocolate and almond flavors work wonderfully together, as you might expect.

Either the Amaretto Sour or the Macaroon would make a delightful dessert drink, pairing well with pecan, cherry, apple or pumpkin pie.

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