Where to find a good selection of amari to stock your own bar?
Most good wine shops carry at least a couple of the most popular ones, such as Fernet Branca, Averna or Ramazotti. The best selection though is at K&L Wine Merchants in Hollywood, where spirits buyer David Driscoll has gotten deep into what he calls "the wonderful world of bitter liqueurs." He has more than a dozen in stock now, including Amaro Sibilla, Amaro Meletti, Amaro Montenegro and the most expensive I've found, Amaro Dell'Erborista from Varnelli, which produces Amaro Sibilla. In his tasting notes, he writes, "Think rhubarb, dried orange peel, cloves, gentian root and more in fantastic balance. This is a cloudy and unfiltered spirit that is quite supple, but bitter as bitter can be on the finish. Simply amazing."
Barkeeper in Silver Lake stocks 15 examples, and owner Joe Keeper will be sure to tell you that bitter is a bit of a misnomer. Not all amari are strongly bitter. Amaro Montenegro, for example, he says, is as delicate and sweet as a perfume. Other labels the quirky shop carries include Amaro Meletti, Luxardo Amaro Amano, Lazzaroni, Rabarbaro Zucca Amaro (rhubarb), Amaro Meletti, Luxardo Amaro Abano, Cynar (artichoke), Cardamaro Amaro (cardoon) and a Barolo Chinato.
K&L Wine Merchants, 1400 Vine St., Hollywood, (323) 464-9463, http://www.klwines.com; amari from $17 to $62 (for the Amaro Dell'Erborista). Barkeeper, 3910 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 669-1675, http://www.barkeepersilverlake.com; amari from $20 to $46.50 (for the Barolo Chinato).Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times