A cocktail recipe shared by an Italian bartender. This classic Italian amaretto sour with a frothy egg white topping will transport you to the Italian countryside in a matter of 2 minutes. Serve this simple cocktail recipe as the opener with your favorite Italian appetizers!
Picture it. You're relaxing in a cafe in Italy. All around you are matching white and blue chairs and orange umbrellas emblazoned with a bold "Campari" logo over each table. You turn your chair to face the piazza (courtyard) for the best people-watching. And take a sip of a softly colored, slightly sweet Italian amaretto sour.
La dolce vita! (the sweet life)
I had that experience at a hotel bar in Rome where I watched the bartender shake up the most amazing amaretto sour drink with the perfect frothy top. He shared the recipe with me and now I'm sharing it with you. Hopefully, I got it right.
Shake one up for yourself and a friend. And then do it again! 🍹🍹
Let's get one thing out of the way...
What is amaretto liqueur anyway?
Amaretto, which means "little bitter" in Italian, is a popular almond flavored liqueur with a warm, golden amber color. The almond flavor comes from the essential oils found in the pits of the stones being processed to make it.
Apricots, peaches, and cherries are traditionally the fruits used to make amaretto and then sometimes flavors are added in to make the liqueur sweeter and less bitter.
Here is an article to help you find some popular amaretti liqueurs to add to your collection.
Equipment to make a classic Italian cocktail
Whether you're making this amaretto sour or ready to shake up the best espresso martini recipe, equipment matters. Before you get mixing, gather:
- Cocktail shaker. Every well-stocked bar needs a good stainless steel cocktail shaker. For this recipe for amaretto sours, we're using a cobbler strainer. (Read below for more info). If you need a good drink shaker, I especially love this stainless steel cocktail set.
- Clear ice. If you are having a party, make sure to buy a bag of clear ice at your local liquor or grocery store. Good quality ice makes all the difference in a drink!
Different kinds of cocktail shakers
- Cobbler shaker. According to Liquor.com, the cobbler shaker was invented by Edward Hauck in the late 1800's. It's a 3 piece stainless steel shaker including the base, built-in strainer and metal top. The top typically can fill in for a shot glass.
- Boston shaker. The Boston shaker is a pint-sized stainless base and a pint sized glass is set inside the base to act as the top. You'd then use a Hawthorne strainer (a flat strainer with holes encircled by a springy wire) to strain your cocktail.
Ingredients to gather
Here's are the ingredients you'll need to make a classic amaretto sour drink:
- Amaretto liqueur. The star ingredient. My favorite is DiSaronno because I grew up with it. And because it's really good.
- Egg white. You can use powdered egg white of course. We used the real thing here. Don't judge. They did at the bar in Rome, too. 😊
- Lemon juice. Fresh squeezed please!
- Simple syrup. A little sugar is necessary to cut down the bitterness of the amaretto and lemon juice.
Recipe for simple syrup
Bring equal parts water and sugar to boil in a saucepan. Cook for 2 minutes or until the liquid is clear.-Josie + Nina
How to make an amaretto sour in 2 minutes
Since this is literally a 2 minute cocktail recipe, we are going to get to shaking things up...
- Separate the egg white from the yolk. I use this old Tupperware egg separator.
- To a cocktail shaker, add:
- lime juice
- simple syrup
- egg white
Cocktail shaking test: 30 seconds vs. 1 minute shake
My first attempt at following the Roman bartender's recipe for amaretto sours yielded less than satisfactory results (shown left above). I started over with a clean shaker, new ice and followed the method described below. And the results are seen in the second image above.😊
- Shake for at least 30 seconds. This is called a dry shake and helps the egg through a chemical process to become emulsified and whipped.
- Add in enough ice that you can close the shaker.
- Shake for at least another 30 seconds -1 minute. It takes a bit for the egg white to get velvety smooth.
- Strain the amaretto sour into a coupe glass. The frothy egg white will rise to the top.
Tips for making cocktails with egg whites
Clean. Make sure the cocktail shaker is clean and dry before adding all the ingredients.
Use the dry shake method. Shake without ice first for 30 seconds and then add ice and shake again.
Bigger cubes need a longer shake because they melt slower. Too small ice cubes and you risk the ice breaking off leaving shards in your cocktail which will dilute it.
Use as big of ice as you have that can fit a few pieces comfortably in the shaker. Now isn't the time to use that big fancy square ice or the small little pellets both which will affect the temperature and taste of your amaretto sour.
Ice temperature. Take your ice straight from the freezer right before shaking. One of the most important tips is to make sure your ice isn't too wet (translated: it's been sitting in an ice bucket too long) so as to dilute the yummy amaretto sour recipe you've worked so hard on!
For all the ice advice you need, check out these in-depth ice chilling and dilution tips from Brooklyn bar owner and mixologist, Tom Macy.
Garnishes for amaretto sours
And serve with some amaretti biscuits for a little more almond flavor!
Italian Amaretto Sour
- 1 egg , separated; reserve yolk for another use
- 4 oz amaretto
- 2 oz fresh lemon juice, from 1 lemon
- 2 oz simple syrup
- clear ice cubes, see notes below*; don't use shaved or pellet ice
To make a batch of simple syrup
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup sugar
To make simple syrup
- Add water and sugar to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil on low until the sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Cool completely and store in a sealed jar or container.½ cup water, ½ cup sugar
For the amaretto sour
- Crack the egg using an egg separator or clean hands as a strainer. Save the yolk for a batch of these salty chocolate blondies.1 egg
- To a cobbler cocktail shaker, add the egg white, amaretto, lemon juice and simple syrup. Put the strainer and top on and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Yes, you're going to get a workout!4 oz amaretto, 2 oz fresh lemon juice, 2 oz simple syrup
- Remove the lid(s), add ice to the shaker and shake again for at least another 30 seconds up to a minute until frothy. It's ok to open the lid and check if you need to keep shaking.clear ice cubes
- Strain into a glass. Egg froth will rise to the top and separate.
- Serve in champagne or coupe glass. Garnish with amarena cherries and serve with an amaretti cookie.