LA's best bartenders competed to create the best Amaro Montenegro drinks. And we got the exclusive on their cocktail recipes!

If you’ve only had amari neat, these six Amaro Montenegro drinks will change your mind.

If you’ve always been thinking “how the hell can Italians drink that bitter stuff,” these cocktails will turn you into an amaro enthusiast (by the way, amaro is the singular form).

Using amari as cocktail ingredients makes total sense. Each amaro has a distinct character, with different levels of bitterness and sweetness. As master mixologist Josh Goldman put it, “Amari give great complexity to cocktails. There are so many combinations that you can create, they are a real goldmine.”

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Two great montenegro drinks

Two of the great Montenegro drinks at the 2016 Amaro Montenegro Cocktail Competition Finals

To start exploring the magical world of amari, Amaro Montenegro is a good choice. Apparently, it’s the best selling amaro in Italy. It’s been produced since 1885, so clearly they’re doing something right. Chances are you won’t recognize all the 40 herbs and spices in its secret formula. However, you will taste at least some orange, vanilla, coriander, and a touch of honey sweetness.

Want to make great Montenegro drinks? Draw inspiration from some of the best bartenders in Los Angeles!

At the SoCal Amaro Montenegro Cocktail Competition, these six barmen presented their cockails to judges of the caliber of Caroline Pardilla, aka Caroline on Crack , and Philip Dobard of the Museum of the American Cockail (watch video). So keep these recipes handy for your next party!

Ready with your shakers? Here we go!

Six Montenegro Drinks from the SoCal Amaro Montenegro Cocktail Competition

1) “The Light in Montenegro”, by Scott Eton (Melrose Umbrella Company)

2-3 raspberries
Pinch rosemary
.75 ounce lemon
.25 ounce honey 3:1
.75 ounce dry vermouth
2 ounce Amaro Montenegro

For this Montenegro drink, start with 2-3 raspberries and a pinch of rosemary. Add your lemon, honey, and dry vermouth. Give the berries and rosemary a light muddle. Add Montenegro and give it a nice long hard shake. Fine strain into a coupe. Express grapefruit oil and discard. Garnish with rosemary sprig. Enjoy.

The light in Montenegro. Raspberries, Rosemary, lemon, honey, dry vermouth, montenegro. #madewithmonte

A photo posted by Scott Eton (@pscotteton) on


2) “Montenegro-cello”, by Harry Chin (Here’s Looking At You)

2 ounce Amaro Montenegro
.5 ounce fresh grapefruit juice
.5 ounce fresh lemon juice
.25 ounce 3:1 honey syrup

Add all ingredients to a mixing glass and stir ingredients with ice until cold but not too diluted. This drink is stirred to keep the silky components from being bruised. Strain into Nick&Nora goblet or stemmed cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon peel.

#madewithmonte #amaromontenegro #shakestirusa

A photo posted by Harry Chin (@crafty_chin) on


3) “Air Montenegro”, by Darwin Pornell (Faith and Flower)

2 oz Amaro Montenegro
3/4 oz La Niña Del Mezcal e”Primario”
1 oz Dolin dry vermouth
Flamed grapefruit peel

Add all contents to a shaker with ice. Strain the drink into an empty shaker from a height of 24-32 inches. Pour the drink back into the shaker with the ice and repeat 5 times. Flame a grapefruit peel into a cocktail glass. Strain the cocktail into the same glass. Garnish with the flamed grapefruit peel.

Air Montenegro @amaromonte @laninadelmezcal Dolin Dry Vermouth Flamed grapefruit #madewithmonte

A photo posted by Darwin Pornel (@darwinpornel) on


4) “True Montenegro Sour”, by BC Hoffman (The Edison)

2 ounce Amaro Montenegro
.5 ounce Botanist Gin
1 ounce lemon juice
1 ounce egg white
.5 ounce sage infused honey
.25 ounce olive juice
2 dash orange bitters
2 peel orange zest

Combine all ingredients (except the orange zests) dry shake wet shake strain into a sour glass. Garnish with an olive and 2 orange zests. To make the sage honey, take 1/2 cup of honey, 1/4 cup water, and three pieces of sage. Put on stove top for 5 minutes on low heat and let sit with sage in it overnight, essentially steeping like a tea.


5) “Montenegro a Colazione”, by William Perbellini (Bar Toscana)

2 ounce Amaro Montenegro
1 ounce fresh lemon juice
½ ounce orgeat syrup
1 barspoon apricot jam
3 dash Peach bitters Fee Bros.
1 barspoon egg white

The idea behind this Montenegro drink is that, because Italians love Montenegro, they could have it for breakfast too! Just kidding…Consume responsibly! Anyway, combine the jam and syrup in a shaker and dissolve the jam with a bar spoon. Add the rest of the igredients and shake vigorously with ice cubes. Double strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with a dehydrated blood orange wheel.

#madewithmonte @bar_toscana_brentwood

A photo posted by William Perbellini (@william.perbellini) on


6) “Montenegro’s Stimuli”, by Iluggy Recinos (Bestia)

2 ounce Amaro Montenegro
3/4 ounce lime juice
3/4 ounce orgeat
1/2 ounce Vida Mezcal
.25 ounce Smith & Cross
pint fresh cracked black pepper
sprig mint

Put all ingredients in tin shaker, except for cracked black pepper and mint sprig. Soft shake with one ice cube, strain into a Collins glass, and fill with crushed iced. Garnish with fresh cracked black pepper and mint sprig. Voila!

Two bartenders making Montenegro drinks

Darwin Pornell and William Perbellini at the 2016 SoCal Montenegro Cocktail Competition Final

Did you enjoy this rundown of Amaro Montenegro drinks? What are your favorites and do you have your own cocktal recipes using amari? Let us know in the comments!

Special thanks to The Spare Room for hosting the event and Elliot Montero for inviting us. Cover Photo by Don LaVange via Flickr


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