Amaretto is an almond-flavored liqueur from Italy that's known for its sweetness and fragrant aroma. A nutty liqueur that, in most cases, is not made with almonds but apricot kernels and peach stones. For instance, Disaronno, the most popular and one of the best Amaretto brands, is made from apricot kernels and burnt sugar.
Most Amaretti are produced in Italy, only a few come from other countries. Yet, as a rule of thumb, Amaretto liqueurs from Italy are generally considered of higher quality. They work excellently in cocktails like a classic Amaretto Sour, in desserts, or as a post-dinner pour (digestif).
For a better overview and to save you from overly sweet liqueurs, we created a list of the most popular Amaretto brands.
Our Top Picks
- Best overall: Disaronno Amaretto Originale
- Best for drinking neat: Amaretto Adriatico
- Best budget: Caffo Amaretto
- Best for drinks: Luxardo Amaretto di Saschira
- Best alcohol-free: Lyre's Amaretti
1. Disaronno Originale Amaretto
- Origin: Saronno, Italy
- Price: $23 per 750 ml bottle
- ABV: 28%
- Made from: Apricot kernels
This liqueur is the benchmark for Amaretto. Disaronno is not only the oldest and most renowned brand to sell and produce the almond-flavored liqueur but has a worldwide market share of around 70%.
To this day, the liqueur allegedly is made according to an ancient original recipe from 1525. -A concoction of neutral alcohol, apricot pits, sugar, and a variety of herbal essences.
The taste of Disaronno is rich and almost Christmasy. Flavors like marzipan, vanilla, biscotti, dried fruit, caramel, and toasted almonds mingle on the tongue and provide a unique flavor profile. That makes it an excellent choice for drinking neat or on the rocks.
2. Lazzaroni Amaretto
- Origin: Saronno, Italy
- Price: $25 per 750 ml bottle
- ABV: 24%
- Made from: Lazzaroni Amaretto di Saronno cookie
On the market since 1851, the Lazzaroni liqueur is another influential representative. The taste is much sweeter than most others and carries a delicate sweet almond flavor along with notes of honeycomb and toffee.
That also has to do with the unique base ingredient, the famed Lazzaroni Amaretto di Saronno cookies. Unlike all other Amaretti, Lazzaroni infuses its base spirit with its self-made cookies instead of raw almonds or stone fruit pits and kernels.
The cookies are made from only apricot kernels (20% of the mix), sugar, and egg whites. After being baked, they are crushed, then soaked in alcohol.
3. Amaretto Adriatico
- Origin: Putignano, Italy
- Price: $32 per 750 ml bottle
- ABV: 28%
- Made from: Roasted almonds
Adriatico is a comparably new and modern producer of Amaretto liqueur. The vegan-certified liqueur is flavored with hand-picked and roasted almonds from Apulia.
Other ingredients in this all-natural product are cinnamon, cocoa, coffee, and just a bit of sea salt. They produce the liqueur locally, the standard bottles are "Roasted" and "White." In addition to that, Adriatico also offers two barrel-aged expressions of their Roasted Amaretto.
One matures in ex-Bourbon casks, the other in ex-Rum barrels. Sir David Gluckman, the creator of world-renowned liquor brands like Bailey's, Tanqueray, and Ciroc, praised the liqueur with the following words:
"No more sticky and heavy marzipan taste. These roasted almonds definitely symbolize a new generation Amaretto."
4. Luxardo Amaretto di Saschira
- Origin: Torreglia, Italy
- Price: $25 per 750 ml bottle
- ABV: 24%
- Made from: Pits of cherries, apricots, and peaches
Luxardo is most famous for its Maraschino liqueur, but they also produce an excellent Amaretto. While most producers rely upon a single ingredient for the almond flavor, Luxardo Amaretto uses three stone fruits: cherries, apricots, and peaches.
This diversity of ingredients also shows in a more complex flavor profile with bold and nuanced notes of sweet almonds, toffee, biscotti, marzipan, and baking spice. It pairs perfectly with tart flavors like lemon juice, making it an excellent base for an Amaretto Sour cocktail.
The liqueur is slightly sweeter than most others, which makes it less suited for sipping but great as an ingredient in Amaretto cocktails. Here the complex flavor profile of Amaretto di Saschira pays off and rewards the drinker with evocative notes of almonds and marzipan.
5. Caffo Amaretto
- Origin: Italy
- Price: $20 per 750 ml bottle
- ABV: 30%
- Made from: Sicilian almonds
The full name of this delicious Amaretto is "Amaretto Liquore alle Mandorle." In contrast to many other brands, Caffo actually uses fine Sicilian almonds instead of apricot kernels or peach stones.
It's not the best-known Amaretto brand. However, the product is spot-on. It's full of almond flavor without any artificial notes. That, to me, makes it an ideal ingredient in cocktails.
You can use it as one of the classic two-ingredient Amaretto cocktails like The Godfather or The French Connection; -but my favorite drink to make with is an Amaretto (stone) Sour.
- Origin: Brescia, Italy
- Price: $28 per 750 ml bottle
- ABV: 24%
- Made from: Bitter almonds
Gozio Amaretto is flavored with bitter almonds and a list of secret ingredients following their traditional recipe from 1901. The methods and the recipe haven't changed in the past 120 years. They don't use artificial extracts, flavors, or colorings.
Produced in Gussago, Brescia by Distillerie Franciacorta, Gozio is an all-natural product packed with flavors like almonds and burnt sugar. For many bartenders, this Amaretto liqueur is a contender for the best Amaretto in 2023. One of them is Piero Procida - Food & Beverage Manager at "The London Wes Hollywood" Hotel, who asserts:
"Gozio Amaretto is one of those brands that truly stand out."
Gozio is a premium product and one of the top Amaretti. I would also recommend serving it neat over ice, garnished with an orange peel or a slice of orange.
7. Lyre's Amaretti
- Origin: Leicestershire, United Kingdom
- Price: $26 per 700 ml bottle
- ABV: 0%
- Made from: Bitter almonds
Yes, this is a non-alcoholic alternative to classic Amaretto liqueur. To make matters even worse, it's from the UK and not Italy. So why is it on this list?
Well, the taste of alcohol-free liqueur and spirit alternatives is often far from the original. But this almond-flavored liqueur alternative is simply excellent. It packs plenty of almond flavors combined with vanilla and marzipan without being overly sweet.
I wouldn't recommend it as an alternative for sipping but mixed in low-ABV cocktails or Mocktails Lyre's Amaretti really shines. This non-alcoholic alternative is one of the few that I can absolutely recommend.
What to Look for when buying Amaretto liqueur
The ingredients lending amaretto its distinct flavor can be almonds, cherry pits, peach stones, or apricot kernels. The resulting liqueur may all taste similar, but depending on the base ingredient, the flavors of an amaretto liqueur will vary. In case you're looking for an alternative to a specific brand, make sure they're made of the same base ingredient or taste it before buying a whole bottle.
Amaretto is never cheap, at least not in the US. Most bottles range between $20 and $35, whereas in Italy you can get a bottle of decent Amaretto for about $6. To make themes out of it, use more expensive bottles to serve straight as digestifs, and use the budget-friendly amarettos for mixing cocktails.
Think about how you want to use the liqueur. Is it a mixer for cocktails? Or do you serve it as a digestif? If you plan on using it in desserts like ice cream or as a baking ingredient, consider a non-alcoholic version if you're serving kids.
Alcohol Content (ABV)
Compared to high-proof spirits like vodka, rum, whiskey, or gin, Amaretto has a much lower alcohol content. While vodka has 40% ABV, most amaretto liqueurs range between 20% and 30% of alcohol. However, this is still a lot, and drinking lots of Amaretto will get you drunk much faster than expected. The sweetness of the sugar covers most of the harsh alcoholic notes, so keep a close eye on how much you're drinking.
FAQs about Amaretto
Does all Amaretto taste the same?
No, they certainly do not taste the same. The flavor profile varies widely depending on whether the flavoring ingredient is almonds, peach stones, apricot kernels, or a combination of them. Also, the level of sweetness can be very different, from very restrained (Amaretto Adriatico) to very sweet (Luxardo Amaretto di Saschira). In general, premium bottles contain much less sugar than cheaper options because sugar is an easy way to cover up harsher notes of alcohol.
Is amaretto and amaro the same?
No, amaro and amaretto are both Italian liqueurs but not the same. An amaro is a herbal liqueur known for its pronounced bitter notes derived from a mix of herbal ingredients. Amaretto, on the other hand, is almond-flavored and nutty with almost no bitter flavors and more pronounced sweetness.
How long does Amaretto last when opened?
Opened bottles should be stored in a cool and dark place. Typically, an open liqueur bottle lasts for up to 5 years under these conditions. The high amount of alcohol and sugar prevents it from turning bad. Unopened bottles can last up to two or three decades.
How to drink amaretto the right way?
It's best when served straight as a digestif after a scrumptious meal. But it also works excellent in cocktails like an Amaretto Sour, French Connection, or a Godfather cocktail. If you like boozy desserts, you can pour an ounce of it over vanilla ice cream. The nutty flavors pair perfectly with the sweet vanilla notes.
Is Disaronno an Amaretto?
Yes, Disaronno Originale Amaretto (the full name) underlines this. It's actually the most famous Amaretto in the world and one of the best options to get if you need a versatile Amaretto in your home bar.
What to mix with Amaretto?
The nuttiness in the liqueur works great with creamy flavors like milk or vanilla, but also in combination with tart flavors of orange, and lemon juice. Try adding the essential oils of an orange peel to a straight serving of Amaretto to make the digestif even better. You can even garnish the glass with said orange peel.
In cocktails, the sweet and nutty flavors work best with aged spirits like whiskey, aged rum, or cognac. Try incorporating Amaretto in whiskey or rum drinks by using it as a substitute for simple syrup. This lends the drink a sweet, nutty touch. However, use it with caution and only in drinks where a hint of nut flavor makes sense.
Should you drink Amaretto straight?
Amaretto is a very versatile liqueur, and to keep it short, you can drink Amaretto straight, but you don't have to. It's great when served straight, works on the rocks, and can be used as a base ingredient in cocktails or a mixer.
Are there almonds in amaretto?
Some brands are made with real almonds such as bitter almonds, Sicilian almonds, and others. But most Amaretto brands do not use almonds at all. Instead, they get their distinct nutty flavor from apricot kernels, peach stones, or cherry pits.
Amaretto, the beloved "little bitter" liqueur from Italy, is a real treat. No matter if you prefer to sip it on ice or in a mixed drink. And while you can never go wrong with a bottle of Disaronno, other options are worth trying, too.
Luxardo's Amaretto di Saschira & Caffo Amaretto are both excellent in cocktails. If you're looking for something to sip over ice, try Amaretto Adriatico Roasted or one of their barrel-aged expressions.
As an alcohol-free alternative, grab a bottle of Lyre's Amaretti, and you are set.