The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2015

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Page 101 of 140

october 2015  /  the tasting panel  /  101 "To those who are not familiar with amaro," Krueger begins, "I liken it to something that all Americans know: Coca Cola. Both are a secret recipe of herbs and spices, which people enjoy drinking with food." This analogy helps consumers new to the beverage wrap their head around an unfamiliar category—then, he lets the amaro do the talking. "Without fail, upon first tasting, a consumer will say some- thing along the lines of: 'Wow, this is delicious!'" For those grabbing a bite of grub at the bar, Krueger will often offer it as a digestif—the most common use of the liqueur. Sticking with it served neat, the industry vets that line the bar request it mainly as a shot and comment on how well-balanced it is. While Montenegro certainly stands up nicely on its own, Krueger likes to test out different ways to offer it. Krueger has contributed recipes to Montenegro's new cocktail campaign, including Call It a Day (see sidebar for recipe), which does very well on the cocktail menu at Extra Fancy. Like the brand, Krueger enjoys putting twists on classic cocktails by substituting the liqueur for another ingredient. He also mentions how well it integrates into fruity libations. On the palate, Montenegro's notes of bitter and sweet shine through, allow- ing bartenders plenty of different paths to take when developing a cocktail. Since many concoctions include some bittering component, it can oftentimes take on the role of several ingredients all at once—simplifying the steps in the production process, something all mix- ologists can appreciate. "It gracefully bridges the gap between the savory and bitter game we play as cocktail creators," he continues. "Montenegro's complexity and mild bitterness enables it to be incredibly adaptable—it plays well with others." Currently, Krueger's favorite way to drink it is unchilled with a couple of dashes of mezcal in it—dubbed Mezcal Montes or M and Ms for short. The mezcal gives the amaro a little kick and the Montenegro rounds off the aggression in the Mexican spirit. Full of analogies to explain this Italian staple, he concludes: "Above all else, I see Montenegro as the punctua- tion to a consumer's gastronomical experience. It is the perfect thing to have at the end of your meal, making it the period—or rather the exclamation point—to your dining experience! For that reason and so many others, Montenegro always has a spot on the menu at Extra Fancy." Well, that strikes our fancy! Porto Velho ◗ 1½ oz. cachaça ◗ 1 oz. Amaro Montenegro ◗ ½ oz. hibiscus syrup ◗ ¾ oz. fresh lemon juice ◗ Black pepper Shake all ingredients with ice and double-strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Grind fresh black pepper on top.

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