Low ABV, Big Flavor

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Highs and Lows

1 oz Rock and Rye [NY Distilling Co]
1 oz Amaro Angeleno
1/2 oz Averna
1/2 oz Drambuie

Stir with ice, strain into a rocks glass.  Garnish with lemon (or orange) twist.


Low ABV drinks are totally a thing, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  Not every drink needs to be a split base stiff sipper with overproof rum and bottled and bond whiskey (wait, that actually sounds kind of good…).  Sometimes you want to be able to have a few but still keep your wits about you or enjoy an early afternoon drink and get on with your day.

That doesn’t mean they need to be laden with fruit juice and syrups to lighten the load either.  And sure, you could go the Spritz route with a lively aperitif  and soda combo, sometimes you still want the strong, stirred experience without all the booze.

I often reach for Amaris in this situation.  They bring plenty of flavor to the table while usually sporting an ABV of somewhere around the 30% mark.  Pair them with a whiskey or rum based liqueur, and you can have yourself a complex drink that won’t bowl you over.

Case in point, this little number I put together.  It uses one of my other favorite low ABV secret weapons, Rock and Rye.  I love this bottle.  It’s got enough whiskey notes to almost fool you into thinking it’s the real deal, complimented with bitter orange flavors and a unique sweetness from rock candy.  Playing off the bitter orange notes, I split the base with Amaro Angeleno.  This California amaro brings in more oranges, plus a bright bouquet of other herbs and the perfect amount of bitterness as a counterpoint the Rock and Rye.

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Averna and Drambuie are the supporting players, and bring in some low notes to balance the high notes of the Rock and Rye and Angeleno.  There is a similar interplay here, with the sweetness from the heather honey in the Drambuie pushing up against the bitterness of Averna.  Side note, I need to make more drinks with these two bottles.

If no one told you, you wouldn’t know this drink was low ABV.  The two whiskey based bottles and two Amaris bring some much flavor to the glass.  Bright Citrus form the Rock and Rye and Angeleno  jumps out on the nose and on the sip, and then the warming tones of whiskey and sugar work their way in.  The drink has a silky, medium body, and the bitterness is nice and sharp on the finish.  This could work in the middle of the day or for a nightcap that won’t ruin your morning.

Moral of the story is: Don’t sleep on those low ABV drinks!

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