DIY Amaretto & Amaretto Sour

DIY Amaretto 1

Yesterday, I left you hanging on the promise of homemade amaretto in the wake of DIY sour mix. And here we are again, so soon. Hi, Everyone! It’s 5 o’clock somewhere, right? Let’s get started!

In my excitement over the success of the sour mix, I was dying to know what other cocktail favorites could be DIY’ed. True spirits were out — I don’t have the set up for distilling (ha ha — moonshine a la SoupAddict). Liqueurs, I guessed, might have a better shot.

I eyeballed my bottle of Disaronno, which was the alcohol companion in my sour mix taste testing. Hmmmm. I hit the interwebs.

I’ll sum up the adventure by saying this: I had no idea that there are no almonds in almond liqueur.

Did you all know that? Because I. so. did not. The search for homemade amaretto was definitely an edumacation.

The first “recipe” I came across was a knock-down, drag-out home experiment by someone looking to duplicate exactly the formula for the pricey Disaronno. I was amazed/impressed/bedazzled at the amount of the effort he was putting into the concoction, including hunting down apricot pits off-season, plus some other substance I can’t remember, but which was hotly discussed among the commenters as being highly toxic.

I wasn’t about to take on apricot pits and poisonous substances as a kitchen project, but I was intrigued enough to do some further research.

Apricot pits? In Disaronno? Really?

My first stop: Disaronno’s own web site. And sure enough, despite it’s reputation as a top-shelf almond liqueur, Disaronno doesn’t actually contain almonds.

It does contain almond aroma.

Whatever that is.

But no almonds.


DIY Amaretto 2

Apparently, oil extracted from apricot pits (or, as they’re also more elegantly called, kernels), has a sweet almond flavor. Okay. Apricot pits = almond flavor. But then why isn’t it called apricot liqueur? Very puzzling.

Anyway. The next stop on the interwebs was a link I hovered over hesitantly for many minutes: I have a weird thing about that site. On the one hand, it’s been around so long that many of its recipes have years and years worth of reviews and comments, so you have a pretty good idea what you’re getting into when you take on one of the recipes. On the other, in the past, I’ve found many, many duplicate recipes, which leaves me wondering how many food bloggers’ hard-won creations have landed there without permission under someone else’s name. It’s been a long time since I visited that site — maybe it’s better curated now, I don’t know.

But on that day, all roads pointed to it, so down that path I went. And, Wow. Am I ever glad I did.

A very old amaretto recipe with twelve years worth of rave reviews — and I think I actually read them all, so disbelieving I was of the recipe — I had to try it. Didn’t matter if it was a disaster — the effort/reward ratio was too promising not to do it. The peeps were saying it was as good as Disaronno. How is that possible?

I had to know.

DIY Amaretto 3

Now, I don’t want to steer you wrong, my lovely peeps — especially after reading the byzantine lengths that one guy was going through to create his amaretto — but I thought this stuff was amazing. Like the sweet and sour mix, I was so impressed by how fresh it tasted. When you see the recipe, you’re gonna go, uh uh, no way. But I swear — it’s two-thumbs up. In a side-by-side taste test, the Disaronno had a slight aftertaste that I couldn’t identify. Like a hint of bitter cough syrup. The homemade stuff was smoooooth.

Oh, and before I leave the topic of almonds vs. apricots, here’s another puzzling tidbit:

Top-shelf almond liqueurs are made with apricot pits, while lesser brands are made with actual bitter almond oil.

Almond extracts, however — the stuff we use for baking — have a reverse quality relationship. The best quality extracts are made with almond oil, while imitation extracts are made with peach or apricot pits.

[scratches head] Yeah, I don’t get it.

Amaretto Sour

Here’s a quickie bonus recipe: homemade amaretto + homemade sweet and sour mix = homemade amaretto sours!

My go-to drink when I find myself at weddings or catered parties, I adore the amaretto sour.

Here’s how I make it: equal parts of amaretto and sour mix on the rocks. It’s extra pretty (above) with the batch of sour mix I made with blood oranges.

And now, on to the star of the show!

Karen, xoxo

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DIY Amaretto

recipe from (no changes made)

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

Yield: About 2 1/2 cups amaretto

1 cup water
1 cup white sugar
1/2 dark brown sugar, tightly packed
2 cups vodka
2 tablespoons high-quality almond extract
2 teaspoons high-quality vanilla extract

Combine water and sugars in a saucepan over medium heat. Heat until the mixture is boiling, and all of the sugar is dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool for 10 minutes.

Stir in vodka, almond extract and vanilla extract into the mixture. Store in a sealed bottle.

Tips: top-shelf vodka is not necessary, but do use real almond and vanilla extracts, whose flavor contributions you know and like (in baked goods, for example). For the vanilla, I used vanilla bean paste, which is my go-to vanilla and is also the cause of the little black speckles on the bottom of the shot glasses in the middle photo above — vanilla seeds! Centuries ago, amaretto was sometimes prepared using brandy as the alcohol base. I’m sure that would be over-the-top amazing!

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