If your last encounter with an office holiday party was more plastic-cups-and-a-maybe-drunk-Santa than it was cocktails-and-sequins, then it’s high time you join the party-planning committee and shake things up. This year, forgo the traditional punch bowl and opt instead for a sophisticated signature cocktail + Amaro liqueur tasting.
We invited Amaro author + expert Brad Thomas Parsons over to the West Elm HQ to guide us on the ins and outs of the liqueur. Though part of the bitters family, Amari are typically slightly more sweet and, well, drinkable than their counterparts. Choosing to do a flight tasting with several different types of Amari, as opposed to something like wine, is unexpected and will lead to some fun interdepartmental mingling. So, how do you execute this holiday treat? We looked to Parsons to show us step-by-step how to host a tasting – after all, he wrote the book on it.
The Cocktail: Negroni Sbagliato
Every good party needs a signature cocktail. This Italian classic is a favorite of Parsons and also happens to be super simple to make – combine 1 part Campari, 1 part vermouth and 1 part Champagne in a rocks glass over ice. Bubbles are festive and the brightness of the Champagne works well to balance the herbaceous vermouth and bitter Campari.
The Golden Ratio
How much booze and glassware you’ll need depends on whether you’re an office of 15 or 50. As a point of reference, a 750ml bottle contains just over 25 ounces. For tastings, a one ounce pour is generous but you can certainly get away with serving half ounce pours. That means that 1 bottle = 25-50 people. Serve your Amari in either cordials glasses or in small, two ounce cups.
Deciding which Amari to feature in your tasting flight can seem a bit daunting. Parsons suggests honing in on a certain category or region – for us, he chose to highlight American-made Amari.
Once you’ve narrowed the field, select bottles that fall into more general styles like light, medium and funky (these are the aggressively bracing or bitter ones). We tried Amaro Nonino, Amaro Donna Rosa, St. Agrestis and Southern Amaro. Taste your way through the flight respectively.
Any boozy endeavor (especially one involving your boss) should be accompanied by some food. Parsons suggests going the traditional route and serving a charcuterie board with salumi, cheeses, olives, crostini + the works.
Alternatively, you can throw caution to the wind and choose a recipe from the chapter in Parsons’ book titled, The Bittersweet Kitchen. His Amaro-Etti Cookies call for two tablespoons of the bitter liqueur – more is more, right?