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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.

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