Last Tuesday (September 18th) the brilliant Emma Roberts, maker and creator behind Manchester's famed botanical cocktail night INTO THE GATHERING DUSK hosted an Amaro making workshop at LUPO.
Originally developed for medicinal purposes by Florentine monks, amaro which literally translates to 'bitter', is a term that can be applied to any bittersweet herbal liquor. There's no defined recipe and they can be created as an apertif to stimulate the appetite or as a digestif to be enjoyed after dinner. Some of the most famous ones here in the UK include Aperol, Campari and Vecchio Amaro del Capo. If you are lucky enough to explore Italy you will find every town, village, farmer or family has their own version. (And the recipes are deeply guarded secrets.)
At a basic level amaro is made by resting a combination of herbs, roots, macerated flowers and other natural bittering agents with a neutral spirit. This is left to infuse and then sweetened to taste.
Emma, Manchester's very own liquor extraordinaire, grows and forages many of the herbs used in her workshop and dehydrates both flowers and fruits. She also had over 50 tinctures of varying sorts. The ingredients she brought were exquisite, from freshly picked tangerine sage to a geranium extract that had the surprising sweetness of Turkish Delight.
Guests explored the different flavours with Emma's guidance before creating their own blends based on personal taste. Some went for sweet or light notes, others headed for dark, tobacco flavours with nettle and bitter orange. Everyone finished with a 500ml bottle to take home.
Once we had mixed our drinks we all sat round, drank wine, ate cheese and chatted. It was great.
You can keep in the Lupo about upcoming INTO THE GATHERING DUSK X LUPO workshops, including one that's all about Vermouth, by signing up to our newsletter.
And you can follow Emma here to see when and where her famed cocktail nights are popping up next.