Nylon/Campari; Ghia; Amante 1530


All Hail Amaro, The Drink of 2024

Can la vita really be this dolce?

Originally Published: 

Most people drink amaro before they even realize what it is: an Aperol spritz on a summer afternoon, Campari in a Negroni during a winter happy hour, a finger of Fernet at the end of a meal. Amaro, which means “bitter” in Italian, is an infinitely and intentionally broad category of liqueur that typically involves herbs, and some combination of bitter and sweet — and it’s poised to become the drink of 2024, as more American-made amaro brands enter the scene, and non-alcoholic brands like Ghia expand their flavor offerings.

It may seem like everyone started ordering Aperol spritzes after watching Season 2 of The White Lotus, but 2023 was the year amaro was suddenly everywhere, as America’s embrace of European leisure culture popularized everything from charcuterie boards to tinned fish. Low-alcohol drinks have also risen in popularity, along with a greater demand for more affordable cocktails, which might be why places like Gertrude’s in Prospect Heights now offer an “aperitif hour,” during which their $13 amaro and sodas are discounted to just $10, a bargain compared to their $15–17 cocktails. New York Magazine just named the New York City-made amaro Faccia Brutto as “Brooklyn’s favorite drink.” And over the last six or seven years, Aperol and Campari, Aperol’s more bitter cousin, have been making serious headway in the U.S. market — shipments of the former rose from 9,000 cases in 2010 to 390,000 cases in 2022, while the volume of the latter more than doubled from 2015 to 2022, CNN reports.

But the first New York restaurant to popularize amaro was Dante in the mid-aughts, when the restaurant sought to bring European drinking culture to the U.S., says Victoria Canty, a former bartender and events manager at the cafe. Dante, as a result, is largely credited with popularizing the negroni for American palettes, she explains, and the current amaro moment is still thanks to the waves Dante created in the industry.

“The Negroni is the thing that shifted all the gears for everybody,” says Canty, who’s now director of sales and advocacy at Brucato Amaro, which won Liqueur of the Year at the 2023 Bartenders Spirits Awards. The second? The Aperol spritz, she says, particularly because of how palatable it is. “A lot of us want to be sessionable about the way that we're drinking because it allows us to have access to fun and delicious flavors,” she says. “If you have five martinis, you're not even going to know where you are, but if you have five spritzes, you probably feel fine.”

As Dante gained notoriety, Canty says she saw a big boost not only in how much amaro is coming to the U.S., but in the number of brands manufactured in the U.S., particularly in California, which has a similar climate to Southern Italy and France. For the makers of Brucato, that meant creating a sense of California as a place by looking at the native flora and fauna, in this case fennel, manzanita, and Yba Santa, which Canty says lends itself to a more herbaceous amaro compared to Campari, which is traditionally more bitter.

Nylon; Shutterstock

What’s really compelling is that these possibilities don’t necessarily need to include alcohol. Alongside rising popularity of low-ABV drinks, the U.S. has seen a massive uptick in the no-ABV category: U.S. sales of non-alcoholic beer, wine, and spirits were up 20.6% from August 2012 to 2022, according to data from Nielsen.

At the center of the Venn diagram of the rise of the amaro and no-ABV trend is Ghia, a non-alcoholic amaro that speaks to just how much aperitif culture has seeped into American drinking culture. For many, it’s less about having an actual cocktail than the ritual around it, which is why Ghia CEO Mélanie Masarin says she wanted to create a nonalcoholic post-work spirit experience that had the delicious bitterness of an aperitivo in contrast to the sugary mocktails that were available when she founded the brand in 2019. “We're not working with alcohol,” Masarin says. “We're working with extracts and juices, and we want to create the tasting notes that we're missing from mixology in the world.” Last month, Ghia released a new flavor called Berry Aperitif, which has a dry finish and no added sugar, but will appeal to those with a sweeter palate.

But even as American amari are on the rise, there are entrepreneurs — including celebrities — concocting new recipes with classic Mediterranean ingredients. The idea for Amante 1530, a new Italian amaro, was born when Sting and Trudie Styler, along with a group of friends including Amante 1530 CEO Ana Rosenstein, were enjoying Aperol spritzes at Sting and Trudie’s Tuscan estate. They came up with the idea to create a modern Italian amaro they could enjoy together, which became Amante 1530, a distinctly modern amaro that’s light upon entry with an underlying sweetness and subtle, vegetal bitterness that’s not quite as sweet as Aperol or as bitter as Campari.

Rosenstein says that though it feels like the spritz has become ubiquitous — with spritzes as likely to be on the tables of ski resorts as they are by the beach — she believes we are nowhere near the peak of the amaro trend. When she talks to people, she gets three responses: “Spritz is the only thing I will drink,” “It's too sweet for me,” or “I see people drinking it, but I have no idea what that is.” It’s the third answer she’s interested in, because it indicates there’s still room for discovery.

“People are always going to be looking for a way to modify what they've already been doing, and amaro offers this seemingly endless amount of possibilities to do that,” says Canty, who adds that she’s excited about the rise of American-made amari. “Whether it's through spritzes or Negronis or sours, or even just realizing that they are digestives, and you can drink them on their own. It's a really unique experience. It seems hard to grasp, but it's also really fun to explore.”

This article was originally published on