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Dec 14, 2010 06:15 AM

Centerbe in Boston?

Hello - anybody know where I could find centerbe in Boston MA?
an Italian herbal digestif

Thank you!

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  1. Your best bet for getting it is probably Cirace & Son in the North End. They have the largest selection of Italian liqueurs I've seen anywhere in the area.

    18 Replies
      1. re: davis_sq_pro

        It's not pictured on their site and I've never seen it around. I bet it isn't distributed in MA. I don't recall seeing it there when I went looking (unsuccessfully) for Amaro Ciociaro. I think I'd remember the alarming green color.

        I also didn't find it easily on-line. You may have to import it from Italy. This may be easier than from another state, where most on-line retailers know that they can't legally ship it to you.

        If you do find it, please report back. It sounds like fun stuff.

        1. re: EvergreenDan

          thank you - were you ever able to find Amaro Ciociaro anywhere in Boston - it sounds interesting!

          1. re: EvergreenDan

            Amaro CioCiaro isn't distributed in MA. During one of my trip to NYS, I had it shipped to me from DrinkUpNY.

            1. re: EvergreenDan

              How is it? What other amari does it compare with? Something I need to add to my collection? :-)

              1. re: EvergreenDan

                I like CioCiaro. I have 5 "spicy" Amari on hand right now, and I just have them each a little taste. (Because, you know, I want to be accurate and all.)

                Amaro CiaCiaro has the flavor of bitter orange peel to me. Not much pie spice. Very nice. I bought it to make faux Amer Picon, but haven't gotten around to it yet.

                Amaro Lucano has more pie spice and less citrus, although not as much as (by memory) Ramazzotti, (which I don't have on hand at the moment).

                Luxardo Amaro Abano has a strong flavor of black pepper. I like this stuff.

                Meletti has a chocolate flavor. In fact -- ding ... ding ... ding -- Maybe a 20th-ish century could be made with it.

                Nonino is milder (less bitter), quite sweet, and oddly the bitter comes on with a bit of time. I found it hard to characterize -- somewhat caramel flavored. Good stuff, but this is my first bottle so I haven't had it much yet.

                I would not say that CioCiaro is a must-have. The orange flavor in a lot of cocktails can come from the bitters and/or an orange liqueur. That said, I'm disappointed that it's a pain to get in MA. It was very inexpensive, which I liked. If it were easily available, I'd have it on hand always.

                If there's interest, maybe we could start a thread about these Amari. Not much that's written about amari discusses the actual flavor.

                1. re: EvergreenDan

                  Thank you! This entry is a little primer on a few amaro types but not as advanced as your entry here:

                  I'm buying as a gift for somebody - who loves fernet branca, and nonino; and likes averna.

                  The distribution state by state is a real pain in the neck - to see things the seller has - but cannot ship to MA (although often can to NH)

                  Cirace will let me know on Friday if they can get centerbe - I read somewhere it compared to Chartreuse

                  1. re: EvergreenDan

                    Yes, I've read that wikipedia article. They seem to talk in general terms and list lots of ingredients. Some amari are quite similar to each other. Others are shockingly different (Abano, for example, in completely unlike anything else I've had).

                    And then there are "other" amari, like Campari, Luxardo Bitter, Aperol, Cynar, etc.

                    1. re: EvergreenDan

                      Have you tried Amaro Nardini? I picked it up at Cirace. It sounds like it has a very similar flavor profile to the CiaCiaro; bitter orange dominates. The only difference is that it was not inexpensive; I think the bottle cost me $45.

                      Lucano, to me, tastes oddly reminiscent of Coca Cola in some way that I can't quite place.

                      I'm a big fan of Nonino. Seems to have a lot of complexity under the mild, slightly sweet exterior, and to me it seems less syrupy than some of the others.

                      I have not tried Meletti but another that I have tried that has a chocolate flavor is Amaro Mio. It's not especially complex, but is ultra-smooth and way too drinkable. Also comes in 375 mL bottles, which is a nice touch (on the pricey side, though, at $18/375 last time I saw it).

                      I guess we don't need a thread about various amari, since we're already in one :-)

                      1. re: davis_sq_pro

                        Thank you both so much for all your help!
                        Just back from Cirace - the salesman was also helpful and knew the different amaros.
                        He described the Lucano and Averna as somewhat on the sweet side. Going from what I learned here and giftee's tastes (likes Averna - but loves Fernet Branca on one end of the scale and Nonino on the other) , went for Nonino, Ramazzotti, and Abano. (Fernet easier to find and wanted to try some new ones).
                        The nonino was around $40, and the others plus or minus $20. One -(maybe the Meletti?) - he described as slightly rougher than some of others, and it was also cheaper at $17.
                        And with their selection, there is more to look forward to!
                        Thank you again!

                        1. re: jochaima


                          there are tasting notes for the some of individual amaros listed here.

                      2. re: EvergreenDan

                        I tried to pull together info about amari and other bitter liqueurs from a variety of sources. Feel free to comment with corrections, additions, etc. (If you want to comment on the site, you'll just need to sign up for an account.)


                        I hope that this will be useful for those wondering what a bottle is like or considering a first (or 10th) bottle.

                        1. re: EvergreenDan

                          This is terrific! Thank you
                          PS My husband likes the real Unicum too. Still waiting to hear on Centerbe...

                          1. re: EvergreenDan

                            Centerbe is available at Cirace and Son in the North End - it just came in.
                            if you try, please report back!

                            1. re: jochaima


                              Or maybe Pinesol.

                              Herbal notes. Not bitter. 140 proof.

                              Mixing will be challenging.

                          2. re: EvergreenDan

                            You can find most of these- Ramazzotti, Meletti, Nonino(I think) at Wild Duck

                        2. re: EvergreenDan

                          We had to have friends bring it back from Italy for us. We live in NY. Oh, and it numbs your lips.

                      3. They make a version of this in Mallorca Spain called Hierbas (herbs). The Spanish commerical versions are okay anise liquers.

                        But a homemade version I had many years ago was in a jeroboam (3L) bottle jammed full of mountain-foraged herbs. Positively blew my mind.

                        Can't be too hard to make a home made version of you have a good herb garden...

                        23 Replies
                        1. re: StriperGuy

                          They make it on other Spanish islands as well. I picked up a bottle of it in Ibiza; here's what I believe is the web site for it:


                          I don't recall it being very interesting, but I bought and consumed it just before I developed a taste for this kind of stuff. I'll have to go back and get some more. Anyone up for a field trip? :-)

                          1. re: davis_sq_pro

                            The Balearic Islands (Ibiza, Formentera, Cabrera, Menorca) do NOT suck.

                            I never tried that brand, honestly though, the commercial stuff really is just Anise Liquor with a bit of an herbal note.

                          2. re: StriperGuy

                            The stuff from Cirace is not at all as you describe. I wasn't joking about Listerine. I don't get much anise at all. Herbal, menthol (although not like Fernet Branca), alcohol heat (140 proof).

                            I have cold right now. When I sip and inhale, the alcohol make me cough. I should probably dilute it down to something reasonable and try it again.

                            I'm not sure what the mixing potential is, but it might supply that little evil undertone that makes some of my favorite cocktails (and foods) appeal to me.

                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                ... StriperGuy grabs jigger and goes to bathroom to fetch Listerine ...

                                1. re: EvergreenDan

                                  Sounds like some of my BAD batches of homemade bitters...

                                  1. re: EvergreenDan

                                    There was a seminar on amaro at this year's Tales of the Cocktail conference, during which the presenters lead the group through a tasting of various amari. One of the amari was apparently a joke on those who take this stuff a bit too seriously: the presenters went to the Walgreens across the street from the hotel and threw together a concoction of Listerine, Nyquill, and various other ingredients, which was served as "Koala Bitters." Apparently they received a bunch of high praise before revealing the secret recipe. Quite a well-executed play!

                                    Here's a blog post on the seminar:


                                2. re: EvergreenDan

                                  Commercial "Koala Bitters", apparently, on the right.

                                  The Cardamaro is mild and delicious all by itself. A great intro to sipping amari. It is made from wine, cardoon, which is a thistle, related to the artichoke (, and Blessed Thistle ( The woman at Ciracle said that her relatives would harvest Cardoon when she was younger.

                                  The Rhubarb amaro on the left is somewhat similar to Cynar. I made a delightful Perfect Negroni spin-off with Rum. Further experimentation is called for, but both are very, very promising.

                                  I would be interested in hearing of any cocktails using the Italian Centerbe. Maybe mix with Fernet for that complete oral hygiene experience.

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                                  1. re: EvergreenDan

                                    Rhubarb amaro sounds great! I'll have to go pick that up. Is it similar in flavor to mirto?

                                    1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                      Just tasted them both, plus Cynar. (I have a cold, though...)

                                      Mirto has no or very little bitterness, and has a strong evergreen quality.

                                      Zucca is intensely bitter, with a savory (not spicy) umami flavor. The bitterness comes on quickly, with the finish less bitter. It is not at all like rhubarb-based Aperol (which is light, summery, and orangey).

                                      Cynar is similar to Zucca, but with less mid bitter and a stronger bitter finish. It is less syrupy than Zucca.

                                      Given that Cynar is my #2 on my liqueur hit list, Zucca is a welcome addition. The 7 mile walk from my house to Cirace helps work off the calories. ;-)

                                      1. re: EvergreenDan

                                        Which mirto do you have? The one in my cabinet -- Tremotis -- does have some bitterness. Somewhere between the bitterness level of Montenegro and Averna, I'd say.

                                        I didn't know that Aperol is rhubarb-based. Cool thing to keep in mind for a strawberry/rhubarb cocktail next summer!

                                        I'll grab a bottle of Zucca next week. So you'd take a pass on the centerbe, I take it?

                                        1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                          Same mirto. Didn't notice the bitter. Odd. I have never had Montenegro and I'm out of Averna at the moment. (Hey, you can only have so many of these things at once...)

                                          I would not spring for the Centerbe, but the Cardamaro is excellent. If you're going to Cirace, I also recommend Luxardo Amaro Abano, which I haven't seen too many other places. Great black pepper flavor, which makes for some interesting flavor combos.

                                          What's Montenegro like? I think you described something as a "creamsicle", but I can't remember which one. My description is pretty lame:
                                          "Amber, spicy, herbal, citrus, sweet, less bitter than average. 23% ABV."

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                                          1. re: EvergreenDan

                                            Yup, Montenegro is the creamsicle. Limp, almost zero bitterness, light orange kind of chemically flavor. Very sweet. I do not recommend wasting any money on it if you already have taste for amaro. Strangely, it's apparently the most popular one in Italy. Kind of the Bud Light of amaro, I suppose?

                                    2. re: EvergreenDan

                                      Dan, sometime soon try this spin on a negroni:

                                      Cardamaro, Campari, Batavia Arrack

                                      I think you'll like it.

                                      1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                        Your command is my wish -- damn that's tasty. I keep forgetting about CardAmaro because I'm out of room in the "amaro" section of my cabinet, so I keep it elsewhere. It's really lovely, and being wine based it's a great sub for sweet vermouth or Punt e Mes.

                                        The initial sip is all arrack and funk, but then the sweetness and bitterness from the amari kick in and intertwine. Sublime.

                                        Got a name? It's worth posting on KC. 'Bout time you signed up, no?

                                        I've still got plenty of Centerbe to share with you. ;-)

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                                        1. re: EvergreenDan

                                          A little late to this, but for me the queen of amari is Vecchio Amaro del Capo, made in Calabria buy Caffo and imported by Caffo USA. It's relatively light, with no caramel coloring or drudge, crisp and bright with spice, citrus, and herbal notes, and none too sweet. Needs to be ice cold. Is almost addictive.

                                          1. re: bob96

                                            I'll keep an eye out for it. Sounds like some of the characteristics of Amaro Nonino.

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                                            1. re: EvergreenDan

                                              Yes, similar in its complexity and sophistication, but spicier and more, well, southern. Also much cheaper--about $25/ltr.

                                            2. re: bob96

                                              One of the bars here in Boston has a del Capo drink on the menu -- sort of a Toronto variation, so it is gaining traction here. Especially since it is on the more affordable end of the amaro spectrum.

                                              North End
                                              2 oz Slieve Foy 8 Year Old Irish Single Malt Whiskey
                                              1/2 oz Aperol
                                              1/4 oz Amaro del Capo
                                              2 dash Boker's Bitters
                                              Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
                                              More about this drink:

                                              1. re: yarm

                                                I wonder if this implies that Capo is being distributed in MA??

                                                1. re: EvergreenDan

                                                  I know I spotted it recently in my travels, and I want to say that Marty's in Newtonville had it for around $20.

                                          2. re: davis_sq_pro

                                            I just stumbled on this again, and I happen to have some CardAmaro open, so I'm making this again tonight. DSP: Did you ever name this?

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                                    3. I've been tasting a number of amari (and fortified wines) over the past year. Here are my notes on what I've tried thus far:

                                      Aperol Apertivo Liqueur: Bright red in appearance. Herbal and citrusy. Very similar to Compari but sweeter and a bit more tame. Mouthfeel is syrupy and viscous. Refreshing and very easy drinking.

                                      Averna Amaro Liqueur: Dark brown in appearance. Syrupy and leggy. Boozy and sweet in the nose with notes of spices and licorice. Cola-like. The taste is also quite sweet and syrupy. Herbal with hints of citrus fruit. The alcohol is less noticeable in the flavor profile than in the aroma.

                                      Caffo Amaro del Capo: Honey-amber in appearance. Spicy and exotic in the nose. The taste is similar. Notes of saffron, clove, allspice and cardamom are apparent. A touch smoky. More sweet than bitter. Overall, very interesting.

                                      Campari Bitter Liqueur: Bright red in appearance. Herbal and slightly more bitter than sweet. Intense. Orange rind dominates. Lots of gentian root as well. Some alcohol is noticeable on the back end. Crisp, clean and refreshing. Lighter bodied.

                                      Cardamaro Vino Amaro: Deep, orangey-amber appearance. Sweet, orangey and fruity in the nose. Lots of vanilla. Quite grape-y. Lots of port in the flavor profile. Medium-sweet. Slight prune notes. Some citrus as well. Hint of bitterness on the finish. Syrupy and medium bodied. Alcohol is barely perceivable. Very smooth and easy drinking.

                                      Carpano Antico Formula: Smoky brown in appearance. Spicy and citrusy in the nose. Slightly herbal. Similar in taste. Spicy, herbal and refreshing with a pleasant bitterness and only a hint of vermouth. Thinner in body. Makes for a nice aperitif.

                                      Cocchi Americano: Pale, dull yellow in appearance. Lots of white wine in the nose. Some lemongrass and herbal notes are also detectible. The flavor profile is similar. The white wine base is quite apparent. Crisp and light. Slightly bitter and herbal with notes of gentian root and lemon peel. Lighter bodied. Super easy drinking and refreshing, especially when mixed with a splash of soda water.

                                      Cynar Bitter Liqueur: Dark brown in appearance. Deeply herbal with distinct notes of bitter orange peel. Overall, more bitter than sweet but balanced. Slight alcohol presence. Medium viscosity. Refreshing. Nice before or after a meal.

                                      Fernet-Branca Liqueur: Dark brown in appearance. Super intense aroma and flavor profile. Mint and menthol dominate. Very bitter with an intense herbal quality and a strong alcohol presence. Dry and tannic on the finish. Not for the feint of heart.

                                      Luxardo Amaro Abano Liqueur: Dark brown/black in appearance. Moderately herbal and spicy. Very cola-like. Saffron notes come through strong. Overall, rather tame.

                                      Luxardo Fernet Amaro Liqueur: Dark brown in appearance. The aroma is smoky and brisk. Intense herbal and eucalyptus notes come through in both the aroma and the palate. Very bitter. Quite similar to Fernet Branca but with less mint in the nose and more alcohol sharpness in the flavor.

                                      Meletti Amaro Liqueur: Glowing orangey-amber in appearance. Citrus notes dominate. Quite floral. Spicy and a touch herbal. Much more sweet than bitter, but not cloying. Light, clean and refreshing. Graceful. Refreshing and very easy drinking.

                                      Montenegro Amaro Liqueur: Interesting nose. Sweet with hints of vanilla and orange. Reminiscent of an orange creamsicle. The taste is quite similar. Sweet and syrupy. Lots of vanilla flavor with notes of orange and spice.

                                      Nardini Amaro Liqueur: Deep crimson-amber body. Thick and leggy. Slightly minty in the nose. More sweet than bitter. Orange notes dominate the flavor. Mildly spicy. Quite sherry-like.

                                      Nonino Amaro Quintessentia: Light amber appearance. Anise is noticeable in the nose. Ultra smooth flavor profile. Moderate bitterness. Citrus notes come through strong. Some anise as well. Saffron is detectible. Slightly salty and aged. Beautifully balanced.

                                      Punt E Mes: Cola colored in appearance. Vermouth comes through strong in the nose. Earthy and herbal. Taste is similar. Lots of vermouth character. Herbal notes dominate. Quite citrus as well.

                                      Rabarbaro Zucca Amaro Liqueur: Cola colored. Deeply herbal and earthy in the nose with a hint of vegetal sweetness. The taste is similar. Bitter yet balanced with lots of herbs and roots. Smoky. A slightly acidic, rhubarb-like sweetness come through as well. Syrupy mouthfeel. Reminiscent of Cynar but thicker and boozier.

                                      Ramazotti Amaro Liqueur: Cola colored. Spicy and herbal in the nose. The taste is flavorful and balanced. Bitter, spicy and semi-sweet. Herbal and earthy. Some orange peel is noticeable as well. Moderately boozy on the finish. Slightly syrupy mouthfeel.

                                      S. Maria al Monte Amaro Naturale Liqueur: Dark brown with red highlights. Very herbal in the nose with a touch of oak and some sweetness. The flavor is herbal with notes of orange rind. Some eucalyptus comes through as well. Quite bitter. Decent alcohol bite on the finish. All in all, a smoother rendition of a Fernet.

                                      To be sampled:
                                      Barolo Chinato Cocchi
                                      Bisleri Liqueur Ferro-China
                                      Branca Menta Liqueur
                                      China Martini Liqueur
                                      CioCiaro Amaro Liqueur
                                      Lucano Amaro Liqueur
                                      Luxardo Bitter Liqueur
                                      Magnoberta Ferro-China Liqueur
                                      Mio Amaro Liqueur
                                      Vergano Americano Chinato

                                      My "go-to" amari at this point is still Cynar, with Zucca coming in a close second. S. Maria al Monte is a fantastic fernet and is a nice alternative to Fernet Brance, which I still find too harsh.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: dbarneschi

                                        If you like the Nonino, you must try Vecchio Amaro del Capo form Calabria (Caffo Imports): no coloring, just a wonderful balance of citrus, herbal, spice, and refreshing lack of muddy sweetness. Cleansing and refreshing.

                                        1. re: bob96

                                          Is the Vecchio Amaro del Capo and the Caffo Amaro del Capo listed in dbarneschi's notes the same? Or are there different products?

                                          1. re: rlee21

                                            The same--the name is Vecchio Amaro del Capo, made by Caffo in Limbadi, Vibo Valentia, Calabria; Caffo Imports in NY brings it in. "Capo" refers to Capo Vaticano, the lovely coast near Limbadi. It's often priced less expensively than other amari--Astor in NY has been selling the 750ML for $17.

                                            1. re: bob96

                                              Have you ever found Amaro del Capo available in Boston?

                                      2. Back to Centerbe, I found a use for my bottle. At 70% alcohol, I dilute it 1:2.5 for a reasonable-proof mouthwash. No joke.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: EvergreenDan

                                          Make sure to gargle for a full sixty seconds! LOL

                                        2. I just wanted to give everyone a heads up that Cirace's recently got in Rucola, the arugula infused amaro from the island of Ischia. I picked up a 50 cl bottle for $20. Even though the ABV is listed at 30%, Rucola is definitely a lighter and sweeter amaro, somewhat in the vein of Cardamaro or Meletti. It is syrupy with lots of pie spice and orange peel notes. The arugula seemed buried under the other flavors. I also grabbed a bottle of Bisleri Liquer Ferro-China for kicks, since I've never seen it anywhere else. (Each 30 ml shot contains 5 mg of iron.) Although some people might be opposed to the metallic notes on the finish, I love the balanced bitterness and the star anise in both the nose and the flavor profile.

                                          On the topic of new amari, Boston recently began receiving the Varnelli line. I picked up a bottle of Amaro Dell' Erborista at Astor Wines & Spirits in NYC a few months back and my girlfriend and I both agree that it is our favorite amaro ever. Made by hand in small batches and unfiltered, the araro is sweet, smoky and honey-ish on the front end, but finishes hugely bitter and dry with gentian notes that linger on your palate for what seems to be an eternity. Despite the high price tag ($66 for a 1 liter bottle) I would highly recommend it to the more seasoned amari drinkers. A big "thank you" to our server at Journeyman for this amazing recommendation.

                                          Tip: When in NYC, amari lovers should definitely visit Amor y Amargo in the East Village. They offer small pours of any of their vast amari selections for a mere $4. Amazing.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: dbarneschi

                                            As long as we've veered off topic, thanks for the tip on dell'Erborista. I found it and Amaro Sibilla, also from Varnelli at Liquor World in Porter Square, Cambridge, MA.

                                            You are right. These are amari for the stout of heart.

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                                            1. re: dbarneschi

                                              Varnelli Amaro dell'Erborista was the best amaro we tasted at Portland Cocktail Week last month. Luckily, the two running the amaro session there had good taste!