Bottle of damson amaro

The latest damson amaro recipe: third time’s a charm

A herbal, balanced, bitter red aperitif home made damson amaro recipe, with damsons from the garden.
Infusing the 70% alcohol

This amaro is the result of my search for the goldilocks recipe. My first amaro was a bit too bracing, the second too medicinal. This one has a dose of spruce that I haven’t tried before to the same degree, but dialled down bitterness. I’ve combined the flavoured syrup from the first recipe with some of the aromatics from the second. I think this one is much more balanced, less aggressive, and a better partner in gentler drinks. If you’re going to try any of the recipes, I’d suggest starting with this one.

Flavoured syrup
Making the syrup

In this one I have a total of ½ teaspoon of bitter ingredients (of which only half is the powerful gentian – cherry bark is much milder) per 300ml of liquid, which is much less than in my first amaro. I’ve also added herbal notes via spruce and rosemary, a bit of floral with rose petals, and some spicy gin flavours with juniper, cardamom, anise, clove and allspice. Some oak chips during the final maceration with damsons help round things out a bit. The final strength should be around 30-35%, so it has a decent kick to it.

The latest damson amaro recipe: third time’s a charm




A balanced home-made damson amaro (red bitter aperitif), good in a spritz or negroni.


  • Alcohol infusion
  • 150ml 70% grain spirit

  • ¼ tsp gentian

  • ¼ tsp cherry bark

  • ¼ tsp ginger root

  • ½ tsp rose petals

  • 1 tsp spruce needles

  • 4 juniper berries

  • 1 clove

  • 1 star anise

  • 1 allspice berry

  • 1 black cardamom pod

  • Syrup
  • 150ml water

  • 75g sugar

  • 10 bay leaves

  • 1 sprig rosemary

  • ¼ tsp elderberries

  • 2 cardamom pods

  • Final mix
  • 200g damsons

  • 1 tbsp oak chips (optional)


  • Mix all the ingredients for the alcohol infusion in a sealed jar and leave in a cool, dark place for 1 week
  • Filter the alcohol through a fine cheesecloth to remove all the spices and flavourings
  • Add all the syrup ingredients to a pan, bring to the boil. Simmer covered for 10 minutes and then leave to cool. Leaving for a few hours helps the flavours infuse.
  • Filter the herbs and spices from the syrup (this can just be with a sieve)
  • Add the alcohol, syrup, oak chips and damsons to a sealed jar. Shake well and leave for a couple of months. If you remember to, it helps to give it a further shake every week or so.
  • Remove the damsons and filter the amaro through a fine cheesecloth into bottles.