This work in progress amaro is based on Jamie Boudreau's emulation of Amer Picon, called Amer Boudreau. Here's the thing, I have never tasted Amer Picon, and it is quite possible that I never will. Instead, what I am trying to recreate is Bigallet China China, which according to Kindred Cocktails, is an excellent substitute. This, probably along with some differing personal taste, causes me to disagree with Boudreau's formula in a few ways.
First, I am aiming for 80 proof, while Amer Boudreau is about 60. Bigallet China China is 80 proof, as was the original Amer Picon. Second, I think that Amer Boudreau is neither bitter enough, nor sweet enough. I don't know if this is due to differences between Amer Picon and China China, or because different people pay attention to different aspects of flavor.
Experiments to date
I have made two batches so far. Here is my summary:
I started with Boudreau's base ingredients of Amaro Ramazotti, sweet orange tincture, and Stirrings Blood Orange Bitters. My first change was to leave out the extra water (and later add extra alcohol.) Next, the bitterness was ramped up by substituting some of the sweet orange tincture for bitter. Then came my old standbys, cinchona, gentian, and wormwood. The cinchona and gentian were a given, as they are very prominent flavors in China China. I didn't initially include wormwood, but I found that there was a certain front of the tongue sharpness missing, which is what wormwood provides (remind me to write a post about the locations of different bittering agents.) After that, I started adding sugar. First, I used regular simple syrup, but an early test subject identified a caramel flavor in the China China that was missing, so I switched to caramelized sugar. My final step was to add some Grave's 190 to bump up the abv. In testing batch #2, it became clear that more alcohol was needed, but that discovery happened to late in the bottle to make a precise calculation. Batch #3 is my first attempt at exactly 80 proof.
So here's what went into my third attempt today:
Amer DeHainaut batch #3
- 8 oz Amaro Ramazotti
- 6 oz sweet orange
- 2.5 oz bitter orange
- 2 oz Stirrings Blood Orange Bitters
- 24 dr cinchona
- 24 dr gentian
- 12 dr wormwood
- 3 oz caramelized sugar
- 2.75 oz Grave's 190
Makes approximately 1 bottle.
This batch is meant to recreate the final state of batch #2 after it was tasted and altered. In that, I think I succeeded pretty well, which is impressive given how extensively batch #2 was tested in one night. One thing that I find interesting is that the old batch tastes noticeably smoother than this new one. In fact, batch #3 tastes more like my memory of batch #2 when it was new than batch #2 does today (I think that made sense.) I suspect that some time in the bottle has done it good. This is a helpful discovery, not only because it gives me one more tool with which to improve the recipe, but it also adds a bit of dramatic effect to my blog. Stay tuned for more comprehensive tasting notes onces batch #3 is properly aged...