SEATTLE — One sip of Amaricano will transport you straight to Italy - which makes sense, because this beverage was inspired by Jamie Hunt's Italian travels.
"I thought it was a great opportunity to get into the market and make a really wonderful Italian-inspired American amaro," says Hunt, co-founder of Fast Penny Spirits.
Amaro is an Italian herbal liqueur often enjoyed as an after-dinner drink, also called a digestif. It means "bitter" in Italian, which makes it a bittersweet, refreshing spirit that pairs well with sparkling water and prosecco.
Jamie Hunt and Holly Robinson, her fellow co-founder, produce Amaricano at their Ballard distillery and tasting patio, Fast Penny Spirits. They use the same methods Italian producers have used for decades, and source local ingredients for their amaro - like truffles, hazelnuts, and saffron.
Fast Penny Spirits is the definition of "small but mighty" - only three people work there! But every bottle, every label, every drink is lovingly crafted. They make two versions of Amaricano - the original, and the Bianca.
"So, the Bianca is a little lighter style," Robinson says. "It's more pure aperitivo style. It has a little bit more of a candied lemon saffron, kind of green herb, finish. And then the Americano pulls a lot from the black truffle that we get forged here in the Northwest."
There's a lot of ways to drink amaro, whether straight, on the rocks or Robinson's preferred method.
"We just start with about an ounce to an ounce a half of amaro and then a splash of bubbles. Add a little splash of soda water and a nice big wedge of citrus. It's the easiest cocktail."
Fast Penny Spirits doesn't just make amaro - they give back. They do a 3% give back on bottle sales to non-profits that empower women.
"And that's been very important to us," Robinson says. "We've done it since day one, which is wonderful."
If you want to get your hands on a bottle (or two) of Amaricano, you can order it from their website, pick it up at Fast Penny Spirits in Ballard, or find it at some liquor stores around Washington.