An Overproof Spirit Is The Key To Amaretto Sours With A Kick

When it comes to drink orders, the classic amaretto sour is often bullied because — in short — it's a pleasant, just plain nice cocktail that doesn't taste like poison going down. It's loaded with sweet-tart nutty flavor but not all that much booze; in the traditional assembly, lemon juice, amaretto, egg white (or aquafaba), and maraschino cherry juice are all tied up in a creamy yellow package under a frothy cap and Luxardo cherry skewer trio. The only actual alcohol in an amaretto sour comes from the amaretto, a viscous, almond-flavored Italian liqueur with a modest 20-28% ABV. But if you're thirsty to steer this lovely little liqueur lapper in a bolder direction and throw moderation to the wind, break out the overproof spirits.

Adding an overproof spirit gives this notoriously sweet cocktail a punchy kick, adds complexity, and fills out the body. For the best flavor, opt for cask-strength bourbon or overproof rum — both liquors tote a rich yet robust profile that naturally complements the existing flavors in the amaretto sour. (It's a proven combination: Bourbon and amaretto join forces in the two-parter Godfather cocktail.) Their strength also balances out this dessert-like drink and elevates it to a more mature, sophisticated echelon in bar-dom.

Perhaps the best part about this addition is that it doesn't require any extra steps to incorporate. Simply dry shake all your regular amaretto sour ingredients plus the overproof liquor, then wet shake, strain into an ice-filled rocks glass, and garnish to serve.

Pirate libations meet high-brow sophistication

Of course, your upgraded amaretto sour might still require a few tweaks to suit your taste. These cocktails are characterized by their rich texture and luxurious flavor, which is why they're often served in a chilled glass rather than loaded with ice cubes to prevent over-dilution. But in this overproof version, a little extra dilution could be welcome to open up the tasting notes in the strong bourbon or rum and create a smoother sip. Don't be afraid to toss a few ice cubes into your serving glass with this amaretto sour variation. And if you find that the overproof spirit adds a little too much kick for your liking, you can always retroactively temper the intensity with a splash of simple syrup or extra lemon juice.

Start with an amaretto with a flavor you love, since this will be the most pronounced note in the drink. Lazzaroni is an iconic Italian brand, and di Amore is a budget-friendly, widely available, yet high-performing offering. The amaretto will act as a cushy blanket atop your overproof spirit, which should still be smooth enough to steer clear of the paint-thinner liquor sting. For instance, Plantation OFTD overproof dark rum (69%) totes intense tasting notes of coffee, orange, caramel cream, and chocolate. Pusser's Gunpowder Proof gold rum (54.5%) is another complementary fit, with its dimensional notes of molasses, honey, and vanilla. For whiskey fans looking for some amaretto-inspo, check out our list of some of the best high-proof bourbons