More from the Liquor Cabinet
From the suburbs of Munich, bartenders Stephan Berg and Alexander Hauck of The Bitter Truth have been creating various flavors of cocktail bitters since 2006. They've come a long way from the orange bitters that launched their product line. With the release of their E**X**R Kräuter Liqueur, they're branching out into the other kind of bitters—the digestive liqueurs Italians call amari.
Asterisks aside, E**X**R is a unique beast. Billed as a cross between sweet vermouth and alpine digestive tonics, it's bottled at 60 proof. It pours a deep, dark brown, and has the look of uncarbonated soda syrup. The nose is astringent and herbaceous—there's cinnamon, nutmeg, the tree-bark scent common in amari, and finally a touch of smoke.
On the palate, it's quite sweet and thick starting with a raisiny, muddled richness that makes you think you're drinking port. However, it starts to get spicy mid-sip with licorice and mountain herb flavors coming into focus, before finishing with a tingle on the tongue and a lingering zing of bitter.
While it is definitely not Fernet, Averna, or even Cynar, with its milder bitterness and friendly round edges, it would be a great introduction for an amari novice or anyone looking for an easy sipping bitter.
The possibilities really open up in the cocktail realm—E**X**R would definitely shake up a Negroni or a Manhattan, or really any recipe that calls for sweet vermouth. It's also quite nice with just a splash of soda water and a spritz of lime to even out the sweetness.