The Amaretto Sour is a delicious cocktail. We like to make it with a fresh egg white.
The name is a diminutive of the Italian amaro, meaning “bitter,” indicating the distinctive flavour lent by the mandorla amara—the bitter almond or the drupe kernel. However, the bitterness is not unpalatable, and the flavour is enhanced by sweeteners, and sometimes sweet almonds, in the final products. Therefore, the liqueur’s name can be said to describe the taste as “a little bitter”. Conflation of amaro and amore (“love”) is primarily responsible for the associations with romance. Amaretto should not be confused with amaro, a different family of Italian liqueurs that, while also sweetened, have a stronger bitter flavour from herbs.
Despite the known history on the introduction and acceptance of almonds into Italian cuisine, more recent takes on the meanings and origins have come about, further popularized by the two major brands. Though of sometimes questionable factuality, these tales hold a sentimental place in Saronno culture.
In 1525, a Saronno church commissioned artist Bernardino Luini, one of Leonardo da Vinci’s pupils, to paint their sanctuary with frescoes. As the church was dedicated to the Virgin Mary, Luini needed to depict the Madonna, but was in need of a model. He found his inspiration in a young widowed innkeeper, who became his model and (in most versions) lover. Out of gratitude and affection, the woman wished to give him a gift. Her simple means did not permit much, so she steeped apricot kernels in brandy and presented the resulting concoction to a touched Luini.
A sour is a traditional family of mixed drinks; the word itself is often used as a post-positive adjective when in the name of a drink. Common examples of sours are the margarita and the sidecar. Sours belong to one of the old families of original cocktails and are described by Jerry Thomas in his 1862 book How to Mix Drinks. Sours are mixed drinks containing a base liquor, lemon or lime juice, and a sweetener (triple sec, simple syrup, grenadine, or pineapple juice are common). Egg whites are also included in some sours.