If you’ve ever let your eye wander along the rows of bottles behind any bar, you’ve probably seen Montenegro. With a bottle shape similar to butternut squash and a label of the same colour, Montenegro is one of the most popular Amari in the world.
Like so many Italian Amero’s Montenegro was developed back in the late 19th century with a recipe that is as tightly guarded as nuclear launch codes.
Sourcing their herbs from traders all over the world, Montenegro undergoes three different forms of extraction: boiling, maceration and distillation. These extracts are then synthesized into six tasting notes: bitter and herbaceous, spicy and floral, chocolate and caramel, fresh and balsamic, vanilla and red fruits, and warm and tropical.
Once this is done one final element is added to those six notes, called “Premio”; it is the final and fundamental ingredient of the secret recipe and is the result of micro-distillation of five botanicals. Just one litre is added for every 15,000 and that is enough to complete the recipe.
While Montenegro is more floral than the average amaro, it’s a combination of bitter, tart and herbal elements gives the liquid a complexity that endears them to mixologists, too—elusive notes of botanicals, fruits, and spices, all swirling in a single glass.
It can take on the role of a herbal amaro, an orange liqueur, or a base ingredient in its own right. It’s a chameleon in the best of ways. Here are three cocktails that show off its versatility.
The Amaro’s bitterness is rounded out by its sweetness. The defining citrus, specifically orange, characteristic judiciously balances with the bitter to display a multifaceted character and pleasant sweetness
Mixing well with all spirits, it is dark, complex and accessible and a natural fit for a variety of cocktails.