Liquid Assets: Oak City Amaretto

When we think about the spirit of North Carolina, we immediately think of our history with corn whiskey or moonshine. Rightly so, as there are many family stories and secret recipes. With the changing landscape of spirits in this country and in North Carolina specifically, distillers are expanding into categories beyond whiskey. Similar to moonshine’s history, many of these new spirits are steeped in familial traditions and continue to closely mirror our immigration stories.

The cordial (or liqueur) category in the United States is well-known for its larger, imported products. In North Carolina, there are several newcomers, and it’s these products’ return to traditional recipes that often produces a well-balanced, not too sweet and better-crafted liqueur.

Oak City Amaretto, made in Raleigh by Anthony Scalabrino, is the perfect example of how a hand-crafted liqueur returning to its roots produces a better tasting product.

Amaretto is a sweet Italian liqueur that originated in Saronno, Italy. As with limoncello, many Italian families have their own recipes for making these liqueurs at home. When Scalabrino’s great-grandparents emigrated to the U.S. from Italy, they brought the recipe with them. Oak City Amaretto began with this original Sicilian amaretto recipe, and it was enhanced by using only natural and U.S.-sourced ingredients.

For Oak City Amaretto, the family recipe is just part of the story. As with so many N.C. distillers, starting a distillery and producing spirits are passion projects. Scalabrino is currently assigned as an instructor for the Naval ROTC unit at N.C. State. He is a 2010 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and was commissioned as a pilot. As you can imagine, he’s no stranger to multi-tasking, so he takes producing amaretto on the side in stride.

Oak City Amaretto is smooth, nutty and with a beautiful balance of slight bitter and sweet. It’s perfect neat, over ice — or even over ice cream. If you have a favorite cocktail that calls for amaretto, this is a must try. It is available in most ABC stores throughout Wake County. As with all N.C. products, if you don’t see it, please request it.

Cheers and Saluti!

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