Cap Off Your Weekend With Lessons in Amaro

Central Kitchen bartender Patrick Gaggiano is leading a crash course in digestifs on Sunday.

Patrick Gaggiano

Patrick Gaggiano of Central Kitchen and Brick & Mortar. / Photograph by Webb Chappell for “2015 Best Bartender”

When he’s behind the bar at Central Kitchen or Brick & Mortar—and before that, Vialé—Patrick Gaggiano fields a lot of questions about amaro. He finds guests are typically familiar with the  licorice-tasting Fernet, but the world of the herbal, Italian liqueurs is much more expansive than that. So this Sunday, he’s leading a crash course on the digestifs.

“There are numerous kinds and differing flavor[s]. If you hate one you might actually love another,” Gaggiano says. The range of flavors is tasty and versatile, but he finds customers “scared to order them.” 

“For some reason, amaros got popular and no one took a second to really explain what all of them were and why they were different to the drinking public.” So that’s where he’ll start. Expect educational background on digestifs, before he brings out six distinct amaros for a side-by-side tasting. He’ll discuss the progression from his go-to, the comparatively light and sweet Montenegro—”it’s the gateway drug,” he says—to the bitter kingpin, and he’ll share his knowledge about the different flavor profiles and spice composition.

The afternoon will also include tutorials in using amaro. Served neat with some orange peel, it’s a classic nightcap. But there is much more potential, Gaggiano says. “Any cocktail where you want to add a touch of bitter earthiness. Make a Manhattan and swap an amaro for the sweet vermouth. That’s a great starting point.”

This event could be, too—he hopes to continue the educational series.

Amaro Crash Course, $32.64–$43.19, Sunday, January 24, 2-3:30 p.m., Central Kitchen, 567 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square, Cambridge; Eventbrite.