What Is Caffè Amaro?

Brooke Toscano, bartender at NYC's Pouring Ribbons, spills about her favorite spirit

When we want to know what's trending in the cocktail industry, we ask the experts. Bartenders and bar managers know firsthand what's in, what's out and what's next. From sous vide cocktails to sustainable cocktails, nothing is off-limits. So we chat with Brooke Toscano, bartender at NYC's Pouring Ribbons, to find out what's shaking in the drinks world.

What is your favorite bar ingredient or product to work with at. this. very. moment?

"Caffè Amaro, [a coffee liqueur], hands down!"

How did you first hear about it, and when did you first start working with it?

"I heard about it last summer but didn't really start using it until this past winter."

Is there a particular brand you love?

"J. Rieger & Co. out of Kansas City has created a pretty outstanding amaro."

What makes it so special?

"It's difficult with so much out there to create something that isn't already being overdone. [Caffè Amaro] managed to give us something we didn't even know we needed. It is so incredibly versatile, which is half the fun."

How is it best served?

"Neat or on the rocks if you're looking for a wonderful low-ABV sipper. As a replacement in some coffee cocktails is a nice change, as you don't have to worry about having a coffee machine."

Which cocktail or type of drink will you find it in at your bar?

"We currently serve it in a cocktail called the Damien Hirst, which is a whiskey/spiced rum split-base cocktail, with Caffè Amaro and a house spiced cream, then a spritz of Angostura on top. Essentially a cousin of the White Russian, just a bit boozier."

Are there any cool or unusual ways to use it?

"I enjoy it as a lower-ABV cocktail mixed with some tonic water. Seems strange but oh so tasty and is quickly becoming a favorite among guests."

Why should people give it a whirl?

"If anyone loves the taste of coffee but may not have any on hand, this is a wonderful substitute."

Anything else we should know?

"There's no wrong way to drink it; if you find something that seems odd, just roll with it. It could be the next big thing!"