It took forever, but my homemade Amer Picon has finally finished. Amer Picon, for the uninitiated or even merely “not geeky”, is an Italian amaro that is a mix of orange, gentian and other herbal ingredients. It was an ingredient in various pre-Prohibition cocktails, the most classic of which is the Picon Punch, a simple cocktail of Amer Picon, grenadine and soda water. The problem is that Amer Picon has long since ceased being imported into the States. Even worse, twenty years ago the formula was changed which included cutting the proof in half. Sacre bleu!
The result is an amaro which even if you can get your hands on a bottle, tastes nothing like the original around which these cocktails were based. Enter the Americans. Or more precisely, the San Francisco Italian-Americans. A domestic substitute is availabe from Torani, the folks that brought you your flavored coffee syrups. While I won’t hold that against them, their version, Torani Amer, is a bit more vegetal than the original – not bad, but not the same. (Reports are that Torani has recently re-formulated their version to mimic more closely the original, but since I have not finished even my first bottle, I see no reason to waste the money on a second.)
So what shall a booze nerd do? Why make your own, of course! The “love him or hate him” Jamie Boudreau has concocted a recipe of his own a few years ago which comes close to the original recipe, based on reviews by tasters who have had access to those rare bottles of “original formula” Amer Picon for comparison. It does, however, require some patience. Precisely two months of patience, as a bottle of orange peels sits in a jar of high proof vodka in the back of your closet turning into tincture, with Ms. ChinaNob snickering in the corner thinking you’ve gone mad. However, once complete, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the finished product was quite tasty.
1 3/4 oz. gold rum (Cruzan 5-Year or Single Barrel )
3/4 oz. green chartreuse
1/2 oz. Amer Picon
1/2 oz. falernum
Stir with ice and strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with cherry.
Recipe courtesy of Oh Gosh!