Amaro liqueurs like Amaro Montenegro tend to be hard to find in stores. After all, there's a tremendous variety, and not every shop owner can afford to store 10 to 20 different Amari. If you can find it, it's usually one of the pricier Amaros. Luckily, there are some excellent substitutes for Amaro Montenegro.
Whether used in cocktails or drunk straight, the best substitute is Amaro Meletti. Runner-up is Amaro Nonino Quintessentia, with its subtle notes of bitter orange, caramel, and herbs.
For a better overview of the different replacements available for Montenegro Amaro, here's a detailed guide to the best options to replace this herbal liqueur.
What is Amaro Montenegro?
Montenegro Amaro is one of the better-known representatives of the Amaro family. Amari are herbal liqueurs with a distinctively bittersweet taste. It is based on a neutral spirit and clocks in at 23% ABV, making it a medium-strong Amaro.
The recipes for these liqueurs are often top-secret and closely guarded, which also applies to Montenegro Amaro. Still, we know that the recipe includes over 40 different botanical ingredients.
Taste and aroma-wise, Montenegro is relatively sweet and floral with distinct notes of orange zest and hints of rose petals. It's an ingredient in the Monte Paloma cocktail and often used as replacement for other Amari in riffs on classic recipes.
Its high price point and restricted availability cause many to look for substitutes, and here's our list of the best ones.
1. Amaro Meletti
The intense floral notes paired with caramel make Amaro Meletti best substitute for Montenegro amaro. It has a tad bit less citrus and orange notes. But saying that, you can still taste some fruity notes in this Amaro.
Meletti is bottled at 32%, making it a fair bit stronger than Montenegro. You can taste and feel that difference when served neat. However, used in cocktails, it hardly makes a difference.
And the best part about using Meletti as an alternative is that it's comparably cheap. On average, a bottle of this liqueur will cost you $23. A bargain compared to the $34 you have to pay for a bottle of Montenegro.
2. Amaro Nonino
The second entry on our list is Amaro Nonino Quintessentia. Amaro Nonino has a similar sweetness to it but lacks the floral notes of Montenegro. Other than that, it's an excellent alternative.
Like Meletti, this Grappa-based Amaro is a bit stronger than Montenegro. It's bottled at 35% ABV after barrel-aging for up to 12 months.
The ingredients of Nonino include bitter orange, thyme, saffron, and wormwood. Taste-wise sweet notes of caramel and bitter orange dominate, complemented by hints of apricot and herbs.
3. Averna Amaro
Averna and Montenegro are kind of like close cousins. Both are loosely categorized as "medium" Amaro liqueurs. That means flavor and ABV are somewhere in the middle of the spectrum.
At 29% ABV, it's just 6 percent above Montenegro Amaro's 23%. That might sound much, but once you drink it, it actually tastes and feels quite similar.
The flavor profile of Amaro Averna is full of herbal notes and sweetness from caramel, citrus, and honey. It's not as close to Montenegro as Meletti and Nonino, but still close enough - especially in mixed drinks.
4. Amaro CioCiaro
CioCiaro is another alternative for Montenegro Amaro to use in mixed drinks. The liqueur contains 30% alcohol and is a sweet and floral digestif with a dominant orange flavor. The color is considerably darker than amber-colored Montenegro.
Amaro CioCiaro is a popular digestif named after an ancient term for the central region of Italy. The secret recipe from 1873 is closely guarded. Similar to Montenegro, it is based on bitter oranges.
I also want to mention that not only is Cio Ciaro an excellent alternative to Amaro Montenegro, but it also is a perfect substitute for Amer Picon.