Averna Amaro Liqueur Explained

By Timo Torner / Last updated on May 12, 2023

Averna is an Italian Amaro liqueur produced in Sicily. A bittersweet digestif is often served neat or on ice.
Amaro Averna liqueur with ingredients

Amari are bittersweet herbal liqueurs from Italy often served as a digestif after a scrumptious meal. One of the most popular ones is Amaro Averna. The bittersweet herbal liqueur from Caltanissetta, Sicily contains 29% alcohol and is made after a secret recipe. To make it, a selection of herbs, roots, bark, and fruits infuse a neutral base spirit. After infusion, it is sweetened with caramel. 

Due to its excellent balance between bitter and sweet and depth of flavors, it's a popular digestif as well as an ingredient in cocktails. 

What is it? | Nonino vs. Averna vs. Campari | Ingredients | Taste | Substitutes | How to drink | Cocktail Recipes | History | FAQs

What is Averna?

Averna, or with full name Amaro Averna Siciliano, is an amaro liqueur from Caltanissetta, the center of Sicily. The liqueur was first produced in 1868 and is named after its inventor Salvatore Averna.

The secret recipe of Averna includes 60 ingredients, of which only a handful is known. The liqueur belongs to the category of medium Amari, meaning that it has a balanced flavor profile with moderate bitterness and an average ABV (29%).

It's typically served on the rocks as a digestif but can also be part of aperitif cocktails. Its approachable taste and complex flavors make it an ideal cocktail ingredient to add complexity without overpowering other ingredients.

Quick Facts

  • Produced by: Gruppo Campari
  • Origin: Caltanissetta, Sicily
  • Released: 1868
  • ABV: 29% (58 proof)
  • Price: $35 
  • Taste: bitter, sweet, herbal, spicy, and with hints of orange
  • Best serve: Neat or on the rocks
Amaro Averna bottle on white background

Amaro Nonino vs. Averna vs. Campari

Amaro Nonino and Averna belong to the group of medium Amaro and share a similar, well-balanced taste with moderate bitter notes. Campari, on the other hand, belongs to the Aperitivo liqueurs and has a more distinct bitterness with more intense herbal flavors. 

Nonino is the most expensive of the three, Campari and Averna are very similar in price and range around $30 per bottle. Looking at the base spirit, Nonino is based on Grappa, whereas Averna is based on a neutral spirit, just like Campari. Let's see how the three Amari differ in detail:

Averna Nonino Campari
Founded 1868 1973 1860
ABV 29% 43% 24% - 28%
Proof 58 86 48 - 56
Color Dark brown Red Amber Bright red
Amaro sub-category Medium Amaro Medium Amaro Aperitivo
Price $30 $45 $29
Taste well-balanced, bittersweet, herbal, orange notes bittersweet, orange, honey bitter, herbal, bitter-orange

What Does Averna Taste Like?

Averna is one of the more approachable Amari as it's a bit sweeter and less bitter than most others. It is still quite complex in taste and carries notes of anise, chocolate, citrus fruits, licorice, gentian, myrtle, bitter oranges, juniper, and sage. 

The addition of caramel as a sweetener makes the consistency of Amaro Averna thick and syrupy. You can even taste these underlying caramel notes that make Averna sweeter than most Amari.

Ingredients & How It's Made

The recipe of Averna, which includes herbs, roots, and citrus rinds, is a well-kept trade secret. Of a total of 60 ingredients that go into liqueur, only a few are known to the public. Among these are PomegranatesjunipermintSicilian lemonsrosemary, and bitter oranges.

All these components are soaked in a base spirit to infuse it with their flavors and aromas. How long this procedure takes is unknown, but it must be quite some time, considering how aromatic Averna is. After infusion, the liqueur is sweetened with caramel which lends the Amaro its distinct sweetness and syrupy texture.


Each Amaro has a unique set of ingredients and thus varies in taste. To substitute Averna, you can try to replace it with rather sweet options like Ramazzotti or Amaro Meletti

For more recommendations, look at our list of Amaro Averna substitutes. Depending on the intended use, different Amaro liqueurs work well.

The Best Ways to Drink Averna Amaro

The best way to enjoy Averna is as a digestif, served on the rocks with a slice of orange. Presumably, the bittersweet herbal liqueurs help with digestion and are a common thing to order after or instead of a dessert.

Another way to drink Averna is neat at room temperature. That is also the best way to detect the different flavors in the liqueur. If the taste is too strong or sweet, adding a splash of club soda is also a way to enjoy the liqueur.

Besides, you can also imbibe Amaro Averna in cocktails. By balancing the sweet flavors of the liqueur with other ingredients, you can highlight the herbal complexity increasing the flavor depth of drinks.

How to use Averna in Cocktails

In modern craft mixology, Averna is often used as an ingredient in cocktails to enhance a drink's flavor profile. The herbal flavor in the liqueur pairs well with more complex spirits like Rum, Mezcal, or Whiskey. 

One example of such a cocktail is our Mezcal Sour recipe. Averna Amaro builds a deep flavor profile in combination with the smoky taste of Mezcal. The result is a smoky, herbal, sweet, and bitter combination that is a perfect base for a drink. Other ways to use Averna in cocktails are:


Salvatore Averna developed the recipe and released the Amaro Averna in 1868. However, he came across the recipe by accident.

Salvatore was born in Caltanissetta in 1802 and, after his teenage years, became an active and respected member of the community. He also was a benefactor of the local Abbey of the Holy Spirit. Eventually, a member of the Abbey gifted the secret recipe of their herbal elixir to Salvatore as a sign of gratitude.

Aiming to treat this legacy with respect, Salvatore began to produce it for personal use in 1868. He mainly served it to guests visiting his house. Only when his son Francesco began promoting Averna publicly, did the liqueur become more famous and rose to national and, eventually, international fame.

In 2014, Gruppo Campari acquired the Averna brand as they did with many other Amaro brands like Aperol or Cynar.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does Averna Amaro taste like?

It tastes bittersweet, herbal, and spicy with hints of oranges. Overall, it's a rather sweet representative of Amaro liqueurs.

What kind of Amaro is Averna?

It's an authentic Sicilian Amaro with a rather sweet flavor profile. The liqueur is made from over 60 different ingredients, including pomegranate, bitter oranges, and Sicilian lemons.

What is the difference between Averna and Amaro?

Averna is a specific type of Amaro and therefore belongs to the family of Amari (plural of Amaro).

Is Averna similar to Amaretto?

No. Both are sweet liqueurs, yet, Amaretto is sweeter and almond-flavored, while Averna is herbal, spicy, and more bitter.

Is Averna Amaro a Vermouth?

No, both belong to the Amaro category, but sweet vermouth is a separate sub-category, whereas Averna belongs to the sub-category of medium Amari.

Is Averna gluten-free?

Yes, Amaro Averna is labeled and classified as gluten-free.

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