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Photo by Mackenzie Smith Kelley

Editor’s note: We get it. It can be difficult to keep up with the fast pace of Austin’s restaurant and bar scene. We have you covered with our regular roundup of essential food news.

Openings

Nido, the much-anticipated rooftop restaurant on top of The Loren at Lady Bird Lake, is finally open for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner, starting Thursday, October 20. A press release makes an old-fashioned claim in a city obsessed with being different: Nido will “focus on classic technique, offering a sense of familiarity to diners.” This hotel restaurant is high class, high above the city, and looks the part. Dinner menu highlights include kabocha squash beignets, wild mushrooms with sourdough fusilli, and Texas pork belly. The cocktail menu offers up more classics with interesting twists, like “Mule Variations” with Desert Door sotol. Reserve on Opentable.

Other news and notes

Biscuit shop Little Ola's is turning one year old. To celebrate, it’s giving away one ticket for free biscuit sandwiches every day for a year. (It lists this as a $3,700 value, if you can actually make it there daily.) Check out the Instagram post and follow the directions to sign up to win. No purchase is necessary. The restaurant is also transitioning to 7-day-a-week service, so customers can enjoy chicken sandwiches, breakfast, and sweet treats all week.

A virtual pie auction with a cause — getting Austin-area students the funds they need for culinary programs — is going on now through October 27. The Piehole Project comprises 20 pies by widely recognized local chefs like Aaron Franklin (Brisket Cottage Pie), Abby Love (Buttermilk Grits Pie), and Amanda Turner (Spiced Heirloom Tomato Pie). This is Austin’s first year running the Dallas-born fundraiser. More pies (starting at $95) and bidding at auctria.com.

The Sustainable Food Center (SFC), a nonprofit that supports farmers and families for healthy food access, shares in a press release that “14.4% of people in Travis County experience food insecurity.” On October 21, SFC is sending a team to Meanwhile Brewing to meet the community. Stopping by is free, but supporters who make a recurring donation of at least $5 will get two drink tickets, a pumpkin to decorate on-site, and a raffle entry for a Patagonia vest. RSVP at sustainablefoodcenter.org.

If you missed the state fair or just couldn’t get enough, Independence Brewing Co. is throwing a state fair-themed party on October 22, to celebrate 18 years in business. From 3-10 pm that means 18 beer tappings along with carnival foods and games. It would be easy to phone this one in with beer and corn dogs, but this free event is pulling out all the fried food stops from oreos to kimchi pancakes. There’s also live music, screen printing, and CBD drinks. RSVP on Eventbrite.

Photo by Chris Anderson

7 things to know in Austin food right now: Michelin-starred chef brings burgers to Rainey Street

News You Can Eat

Editor’s note: We get it. It can be difficult to keep up with the fast pace of Austin’s restaurant and bar scene. We have you covered with our regular roundup of essential food news.

Openings

Chef Phillip Frankland Lee has been very busy opening new restaurants and earning Michelin stars. This time, skateboarder Neen Williams joins him in a new collaboration, NADC Burger. The tiny burger joint is just a window behind Idle Hands, a Rainey Street bar and backyard. The third-pound patties use the same Texas Wagyu beef as Sushi by Scratch Restaurants and Pasta Bar. Leftover fat is used to fry the french fries. NADC (Not a Damn Chance) refers to Williams’ seasoning out of Dallas, which flavors the only burger variety offered at the window, with onions, pickles, jalapeños, sauce, and American cheese. NADC is open from 6 pm until it sells out, and is only accessible through the bar (so visitors must be 21 or older).

Chi’Lantro BBQ almost doesn’t need an introduction: Its famous kimchi fries, a loaded pile of french fries with onion, kimchi, sriracha, and more, are a hit every year at Austin City Limits Festival, and they’re coming to North Austin with Chi’Lantro’s 10th restaurant. The menu brings “all the favorites” including Korean fried chicken wings, wraps, and customizable bowls. The new location at Anderson Mill (12129 North FM 620, Suite 202) is open every day from 10:30 am to 10 pm.

Lick Honest Ice Creams, known for unique flavors like roasted beets and fresh mint (in one scoop!), is celebrating 11 years in business with a free scoop to all visitors, to any Lick shop, on October 19 from 7-10 pm. A more lasting celebration is the opening of a new location in College Station, at 175 Century Square Drive, Suite 11. This is the brand’s seventh location, and the first outside of Austin or San Antonio. Some of Lick’s seasonal flavors currently include spiced sweet potato pie (with marshmallows and molasses cookie), caramel apple cake, Hazel’s pumpkin pie (a more straightforward pumpkin spice), and a vegan coconut chia chai.

Cinnaholic, the vegan, customizable cinnamon roll shop, officially opens at The Arboretum on Friday, October 14. To celebrate, all cinnamon rolls on opening day will be $2 between 10 am and 2 pm. After that, Cinnaholic is open daily from 10 am to 9 pm at 10000 Research Boulevard, Suite 136. There are more than 20 toppings to choose from including nuts, fruit, and other sweets prepared at the shop. There’s much more than cinnamon rolls, like Barrett’s coffee, Pineapple Dole Whip, non-dairy soft-serve ice cream, and brownies.

Other news and notes

It’s always a party when tequila is around, but Arte Agave takes that to the next level. This mini festival on October 14 brings more than 100 varieties of agave spirits to try and demo cocktails with. Aside from the drinks, there are food vendors, a photo booth, music, and traditional dancing. A popup artisan market sells clothes, accessories, and baked goods. It’s all happening from 6-10 pm at Springdale Station. More information available at arteagave.com.

Pinthouse Brewing is celebrating a 10-year milestone at its anniversary celebration on October 15. At the Burnet location, where the brewery started, there will be a brand-new hazy double IPA in collaboration with Minnesota’s Surly Brewing, limited-release keg tappings, a guest food vendor that’s “a festival favorite,” special edition merch, and yard games like mini golf. Check Instagram for updates about the party, which starts at noon.

There are few more stylish places to watch a spooky movie than Honey Moon Spirit Lounge, the velvet and wicker-covered house just north of the University of Texas campus. Every Tuesday evening until November 1, the restaurant is showing scary movies and handing out free popcorn. There are “creepy cocktails” to go with it, like the Smokus Pocus with mezcal, squid ink agave, bitters, and smoke. Tickets ($10) available on Tock, call (737) 209-0319 for titles.

Photo courtesy of Marufuku Ramen

7 things to know in Austin food right now: San Francisco ramen shop noodles into town

News You Can Eat

Update: The opening date for Marufuku Ramen has been moved to Wednesday, October 12.

Editor’s note: We get it. It can be difficult to keep up with the fast pace of Austin’s restaurant and bar scene. We have you covered with our regular roundup of essential food news.

Openings

One of the most popular of many San Francisco ramen restaurants, Marufuku Ramen, just announced it is coming to Austin on October 12, making this the second Texas location after Frisco. This franchise specializes in Hakata-style Tonkotsu ramen, made with bone broth and thinner-than-usual noodles. Serving sizes also appear slightly smaller than the gut-busting bowls currently found around Austin. The menu extends to other grilled and fried items such as karaage (fried chicken) and chashu (pork belly) buns. More information about the Mueller restaurant (1900 Aldrich Street Suite 180) as it becomes available at marufukuramen.com.

Other news and notes

Readers may have heard by now that food magazine Bon Appétit selected a cool 50 restaurants to represent the best new restaurants in the United States, but one Austin hot shot made it all the way to the Top 10. Canje, the Carribean restaurant by star Austin pastry chef Tavel Bristol-Joseph, was recognized for its complexity in incorporating “layers” of ethnic influence. “Even before the coconut-milk-soaked tres leches cake hits the table, you’ll understand exactly what makes Canje one of the best new restaurants in the country,” writes Hilary Cadigan.

Mini East Austin eatery compound Bento Picnic is wringing every drop from this season with its "Late Summer Harvest Party," a collaboration with Farmshare Austin, Vermillion Farms, Lightsey Farms, and Greener Pastures Chicken. Saba San’s, the wine shop inside Bento Picnic, is handling wines with help from Summer Revival Wine Co. The guided pairing menu is just a suggestion, and guests can visit stations at their own pace while getting to know farmers and winemakers. Tickets ($18-76) available at sabasans.com.

Farmhouse Delivery, a grocery service that focuses on Texas products, is now delivering beer and wine along with its produce, meat, baked goods, prepared meals, and more. Deliveries of brands like Austin Beerworks, Wine for the People, Meanwhile Brewing, and Southold Farm & Cellar will be available starting September 16. On September 29, to celebrate and get Austinites familiar with the catalog, Farmhouse Delivery is visiting the Austin Beerworks taproom with samples. RSVP on Eventbrite for a free beer when you get there.

A collaboration between Japanese-inspired cocktail bar Watertrade and heavily-topping laden ice cream shop Bésame creates a special shaved ice treat called kakigōri. The Watertrade Wild Weekend (WWW) combines almost too many flavors to keep track of: yuzu-lemon and ginger ice cream, fuji apple, and mint-shiso kakigōri build a base. They’re topped with a sake byproduct paste, white boba pearls, Japanese molasses syrup, and roasted soy bean powder. Matcha Pocky Sticks and mint leaves tie it all together. Anyone ready to tackle this behemoth can do so at the Bésame trailer at Meanwhile Brewing, September 17 and 18 from 12 pm to 9 pm.

Mexican Independence Day is coming up on September 16, coinciding with the start of Hispanic Heritage Month, and Fonda San Miguel is celebrating both. Chefs Blanca Zesati and Carlos Monroy are breaking out a traditional, seasonal dish that is hard (but not impossible) to find around Austin. These chiles en nogada are usually stuffed with meat, candied fruits, and nuts, smothered with a walnut cream sauce, and topped with pomegranate seeds. Reserve one for September 17 by calling (512) 459-3401.

For September’s Xolovino Wine Club, Nixta Taqueria is hosting Jorge Gaviria of Masienda, a gourmet store selling everything in the tortilla-making process from whole kernels to comales, to baskets to carry them in. Gaviria is celebrating the launch of his cookbook, MASA: Techniques, Recipes, and Reflections on a Timeless Staple. Of course, the night’s four-course menu centers on masa paired with wine selections. BookPeople will join to sell copies of the book. Tickets ($100) for the 8:30 slot are still available on Tock; act fast to reserve a few remaining spots.

Photo courtesy of Visit Marble Falls

6 perfect weekend getaways to plan in Texas this fall

Post-Summer Plans

With the end of this brutal summer finally (hopefully?!) in sight, it is time to start planning for fall. Call it second summer, as in still plenty warm for enjoying the outdoors but no longer hot enough to melt pavement. Here are six places perfect for a much-needed autumn getaway. Take one (or more) as your just reward for surviving another scorching Texas summer.

Lake Bastrop North Shore Park
This LCRA park in Bastrop hugs the shore of a constant temperature lake for swimming, paddling (canoe, kayak, SUP, and Corcl rentals available), or fishing (with a boat ramp and pier). The park features almost 10 miles of hiking and biking trails, including one connecting to Lake Bastrop South Shore Park, and a sand volleyball court, too. Stay in one of 5 Airstream campers, 2 cabins, or 6 safari style tents. All have grills for cooking and decks for enjoying views of the lake and the stars while sipping a cold one. Other dining and entertainment options in nearby Bastrop, including a distillery and several breweries and taprooms. Neighbor's Kitchen & Yard and Iron Bridge Icehouse, both on the banks of the Colorado River, serve food, craft beer and cocktails, and live music.

Lake Georgetown
At this Corps of Engineers reservoir, choose from four campgrounds with RV and tent camping options. Enjoy swimming, fishing, kayaking (rentals available at Russell Park), and hiking. The crown jewel is the Good Water Trail, a 26-mile loop around the entire lake through a variety of terrain, with multiple trailheads offering the opportunity for shorter hikes. Dining options, wine bars, breweries, and other lodging options are nearby in Georgetown. Check out Barking Armadillo Brewing and, on the courthouse square, three wine tasting rooms and multiple dining options.

Matagorda Bay Nature Park
Located where the Colorado River meets the Gulf of Mexico, Matagorda Bay offers miles of uncrowded beaches for combing and wetlands for paddling. Rent beach chairs, wagons, and kayaks (guided tours available), play miniature golf, fish on the beach or pier, or birdwatch. In addition to Airstream rentals and camping and RV sites, visitors now can rent one of 10 new bungalows that sleep from six to eight people, with fully equipped kitchens, outdoor decks, gas grills, and fantastic views.

Port Aransas
Miles of beach, without summer crowds: What else do you need? Well, perhaps a place to stay, and you’ll find every option from fancy condos to kitschy cottages in this seaside town. Plenty of dining and entertainment options, too. Try the local seafood at places like La Playa Mexican Grill, Fins Grill & Icehouse, and Seafood and Spaghetti Works. Have a cold one at Bernie’s Beach House, the Port A Beer Hut, or Moby Dick’s. Rent bicycles, golf carts, surfboards, and kayaks at Island Surf Rentals (check out the Lighthouse Lakes Paddling Trail). Or just sit on the beach.

Painted Sky Inn
Located on a tranquil inlet of Lake Buchanan, this waterfront property offers rooms for two to ten people with kitchens and lake views, as well as a tiny home and a vintage Airstream. Amenities include fire pits, BBQ grills, a fishing pier, and canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards. Find miles of hiking trails at Canyon of the Eagles and Inks Lake State Park (day pass reservations recommended), or tour several nearby wineries (Torr Na Lochs and Fall Creek, to name two) and breweries (Save the World Brewing and Double Horn Brewing), plus dining options in Burnet and Marble Falls.

Frio River
The aptly-named Frio River is famous for swimming and tubing in the summer. The most popular way to enjoy the river is Garner State Park, but getting weekend reservations can be tough. Another option is Neal’s Lodges, a sprawling family-owned complex that includes 81 cabins, 10 lodges, 17 condos, 45 RV hook-ups, and 16 tent sites, plus a country store and dining room. See a bat emergence at nearby Frio Cave or a bit farther away in Kickapoo Cavern State Park. Saturdays are for fine dining at The Laurel Tree and diner fare at Lost Maples Café, both in Utopia, and Concan has several eateries as well (some close after the summer season, so check websites).

Find miles of hiking trails at Canyon of the Eagles and Inks Lake State Park near Marble Falls.

Photo courtesy of Visit Marble Falls
Find miles of hiking trails at Canyon of the Eagles and Inks Lake State Park near Marble Falls.

Gruene Music and Wine Fest brings more good times to a historic venue

Going Gruene

Wine, music, and super-old dance halls are the best offerings of Central Texas. Texas’ oldest dance hall, in fact, Gruene Hall, is bringing both wine and music together at the 36th Annual Gruene Music and Wine Fest from October 6 to 9. In collaboration with KNBT 92.1 FM Radio, ticket and drinks sales from the four-day event in New Braunfels will benefit United Way of Comal County, which in 2021 received nearly $148,000 from the event.

Other festival costs are covered by sponsors (JP Morgan Chase & Co., New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung, and Texas Hill Country Wineries, to name a few). Visitors can participate in wine and beer tastings in between watching live shows at Gruene Hall and The Grapevine wine bar, another one of the event’s sponsors.

On Thursday, October 6, attendees will gather in the Grapevine Garden for tastings from Llano Estacado Winery, Becker Vineyards, Hilmy Cellars, and an unnamed brewery. Admission is free, and tastings are managed with drink tickets in increments of $5 per drink, which decrease to $4 when purchased in larger quantities. There will be live music and giveaways, followed by a ticketed performance from Josh Abbott Band at Gruene Hall.

Friday’s events are already sold out, but could inspire an itinerary for another day in Gruene, visiting the historic Gristmill River Restaurant right next to the dance hall. One of the draws to this day’s tickets was a “Great Guitar Auction,” followed by a performance from Pat Green.

Back at the Grapevine Garden on Saturday from noon to 6 pm, is a new event that mirrors Thursday’s tasting, this time with six wineries: Lost Draw Cellars, Fiesta Winery, Texas SouthWind Vineyard & Winery, Texoir, Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards, and Messina Hof. Josh Baca & The Hot Tamales and The Johnathans will play visitors through the six-hour tasting and into a ticketed concert by the Lost Gonzo Band, founded in 1972.

Sunday unplugs for a string of acoustic performances from 2 pm to 9 pm at Gruene Hall. The lineup hasn’t been announced yet, but Mattson Rainier of KNBT will emcee the all-day, 21-and-up show. The event ($40) promises “some of Texas’ best songwriters.”

When the festival was in its nascent years, it only filled one day, raising $450 for the United Way. The gigantic non-profit conglomerate claims a mission to “advance the common good,” which in Comal County includes support to several kids’, medical, and Christian groups. It also supports multiple food banks and resources for victims of domestic violence.

In general, tasting events are free and tickets can be pre-purchased online, or at the event. Concert tickets must be purchased ahead of time and may sell out. For more information and purchase links, visit gruenemusicandwinefest.org.

Photo by Mackenzie Smith Kelley

7 things to know in Austin food right now: Indian chain curries favor at Domain Northside

News You Can Eat

Editor’s note: We get it. It can be difficult to keep up with the fast pace of Austin’s restaurant and bar scene. We have you covered with our regular roundup of essential food news.

Openings

Curry Up Now, a new restaurant at the Domain Northside, is curried but not rushed; it is “softly open … with limited hours” until September 23, when it will pick up full service. The colorful Indian fusion eatery was founded in San Francisco and has four locations in Texas, including the Domain Northside — the first in Austin. Instead of making the drive during uncertain hours, diners can place orders online for pickup and delivery.

The bakery that launched a quirky little empire, Quack's Bakery, is soft-launching its existing cocktail bar on September 3, from 4 pm to midnight. Captain Quackenbush's Coffeehouse houses the Soundspace Bar, which has been in “full swing” since June serving mixed drinks, beer, and wine. But this time it has new bartenders and drinks, and is celebrating the launch more officially with discounts and giveaways. Captain Quack's hosts music and comedy events, unlike the other two Quack's locations, which stick to food.

Tito’s Handmade Vodka has been working on growing veggies at the distillery for some time now, which it sent home with employees in sharing bags. Now, the seven-farmer team producing more than 25 types of produce is operating an employee farmers market. Unfortunately for non-employees, this effort is not public, but it does inform the Love, Tito’s Block to Block program, which benefits community gardens.

Other news and notes

In July, Ramen Tatsu-ya blessed the city with two new surprise locations, and zero further information about the mysterious barbecue project announced in March. On August 25 it announced the shocking name BBQ Ramen Tatsu-Ya and giveaways valued at $89,000. From September 1 to 4, purchases at all Tatsu-Ya locations come with red envelopes containing percentage discounts, complementary meals, and shirts while supplies last. The first 25 visitors to every location in Austin and Houston will also receive an “original throwback shirt.”

A new collaboration brings cider, honey, and peppers together for the Austin Eastciders Imperial Stash: Mike’s Hot Honey Cider. This packs two different punches of heat and 8.3% ABV, for an apple cider that tastes of “sweet honey [and] a kick of chilis.” This limited edition cider reprises a popular spicy honey effort in the brewery’s past, before joining forces with the Mike's Hot Honey pros. Starting the week of September 5, it’s available through Austin retailers in six-packs ($13.99), followed by tasting rooms on the 17th, and finally arriving at New York retailers in October.

L’oca d’Oro, the Italian restaurant known for its social involvement, is launching a new dinner series called "Pasta Paisanos: Collaborative Dinners for Abortion Rights." On the first Tuesday each month, the restaurant will donate at least $2,500 or 50 percent of sales from each dinner to the Lilith Fund. The first dinner is on September 6 and features Amanda Rockman, executive pastry chef at New Waterloo Restaurants in Austin. Reserve ($100 per person) on OpenTable.

Former Bon Appetit senior food editor Andy Baraghani is releasing a new cookbook, The Cook You Want to Be, and celebrating here in Austin. He’ll be at Hotel Magdalena on September 9 from 6 pm to 8pm with a small group of 40 guests for a cookbook signing and meet-and-greet. Tickets ($60) include appetizers by Magdalena Bar, a welcome cocktail, and a cookbook, which shares more than 100 recipes designed to help home cooks discover their signature styles. Reserve on hotelmagdalena.com.

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Austin Pets Alive and Austin Animal Center launch $31 pet adoptions for the holidays

New home for the holidays

Two Austin organizations are looking to get local pets into their "furever" homes this holiday season. In a special December promotion, Austin Pets Alive! (APA) and Austin Animal Center are working to get as many animals out of the shelter as possible, by making all adoption fees a flat $31.

The promotion runs December 1-31. According to a release, APA's director of lifesaving operations, Stephanie Bilbro, sees this as a great opportunity to clear out the shelters and make a great impact heading into 2023.

“The holidays are a great time for the Austin community to come together and add to their families. We have so many precious kittens, puppies, cats, and dogs just waiting for their turn to find a family,” said Bilbro. “We hope this is a chance for any family who’s been looking to add a pet to theirs to do so right in the middle of the holiday season. We know Austin is in the upper echelon when it comes to animal welfare. We hope this promo sets us and AAC up for a successful end to 2022 and a fast start going into 2023.”

Both shelters are also seeking fosters and volunteers throughout the holiday season, for Austinites looking to help the shelters without making a long-term commitment.

APA has two locations, one at 1156 W. Cesar Chavez St., and one in Tarrytown (3118 Windsor Rd.). Both locations operate 12-6 pm daily, except Christmas Eve (12-4 pm), Christmas Day (closed), and New Year’s Eve (12-4 pm). The Austin Animal Center is located at 7201 Levander Loop and is open every day from 11 am-7 pm for adoptions. For holiday hours, AAC will be closing at 5 pm on December 23 and will be closed December 24-26.

'Famous' rooftop igloos return to Austin hot spot for the coolest experience this winter

Stay Cool

There aren’t so many winter wonderlands in Austin during the holiday season, but things get colder at higher elevations. The Hotel Van Zandt fourth-floor rooftop may not be high enough to change the weather, but visitors throughout December are invited to hang out in its self-proclaimed "famous" all-weather igloos, snacking on bites from inside and themed cocktails after the sun goes down.

Each private, six-seat igloo at the “South Pole” contains a Christmas tree, board and card games, festive records, and other cozy holiday decorations. It’s as private as Austin dining gets without completely breaking the bank, but the poolside mini-village of transparent igloos creates a warm feeling of togetherness. And in case it actually does get cold (a Christmas miracle!), the vinyl globes are heated.

It's not just a fun gimmick — as cute as the igloos are, Geraldine's is a great foodie destination. Visitors can expect (strong) drinks like the “Dandy Andes,” a minty chocolate mix of Grey Goose vodka, crème de cacao, crème de menthe, and matcha tea. “Santa on a Beach” combines tropical flavors with cinnamon, and other drinks include unusual ingredients like Chartreuse whipped cream, pistachio, and chocolate mole bitters.

Geraldine’s menu focuses on classic Southern cuisine without getting weighed down by tradition; that means a roster of semi-adventurous gourmet comfort foods, like mole birria short ribs, smoked carrots, and salty Brussels sprouts with serranos and mint. Shareables are a good idea, since the igloos are intimate (read: not especially convenient unless you like balancing a dinner plate on the couch).

Two rounds of two-hour seating will be available every night, and reservations will go very fast. As of December 5, there are only a few dates left. Reservations ($100 upfront) entail a $200 minimum on food and beverage, plus a 20 percent service charge. Book on Eventbrite.

Acclaimed Texas chef toasts the Italian liqueur that's perfect for the holidays

The Wine Guy

Editor's note: Long before Chris Shepherd became a James Beard Award-winning chef, he developed enough of a passion for wine to work at Brennan's of Houston as a sommelier. He maintains that interest to this day and covers it regularly in a column for CultureMap's Houston site. Here, he talks not about wine, but the perfect after-dinner sip.

All right, team! Listen up! I’m going to give you some very important holiday information to help you get through all of the parties, family gatherings, and large festive dinners. We are not going to talk about wine today. We’re going to talk about another love of mine — the life-saving amaro.

What is amaro, you ask? It’s an Italian herbal liqueur that’s traditionally consumed post-meal as a digestif. Think of it this way: you start your meal with an aperitif — could be a martini, Campari, or Aperol spritz — to get your palate going and your body ready to eat. After dinner, amaro will help you get through the rest of your night. This elixir will magically and quickly break down everything you just consumed.

Most amari are from Italy, but fortunately new producers with similar styles are popping up all over the world. Some are sweeter, some are more bitter. You just have to find the style you like. Producers don’t traditionally tell you what’s in their amaro, because most of them are made up of dozens of herbs and spices. It’s all about trial and error to find the one you love.

I drink it neat, but some people drink it on the rocks. More and more, you’re seeing amari in cocktails, too.

The amari selection at our house is awesome. My wife and I are firm believers in this beverage as a night cap, and it’s even become part of my regiment pre-dinner as a spritz. Kill two birds, you know?

Unfortunately, not a lot of restaurants carry multiple amari, so it’s up to you guys to get this trend moving. The more you ask for it, the more they’ll stock it.

Our No. 1 go to at home? Montenegro. It’s easy to find, and it’s easy drinking. It has flavors of vanilla and orange, but it’s not too sweet and not too bitter. It’s had the same recipe since 1885, and I hope they never change it.

My wife’s favorite is Braulio. This spirit is from the Italian Alps and aged in Slavonian casks. Using more medicinal herbs and fruits means it skews more bitter than Montenegro, but it has a nice sweetness at the end.

A newish player in the amari game is Amaro Nonino. The Nonino family is historically one of the best grappa producers in the world — they’ve been distilling grappa since 1897 — but they didn’t start to produce their namesake amaro until 1992. (By newish, you get what I mean.) It has lots of honey, vanilla, licorice, and orange flavors. It’s a tad less sweet than most, but I think it’s fantastic.

Pasubio is really different from other amari. If you’re a fan of blueberries, this is for you. It literally tastes like crushed blueberries.

The next two are really cool and unusual, because they're made here in the U.S. An all-time favorite is Southern Amaro from High Wire Distilling Co. in Charleston. Yaupon is one of the main characteristics, which is found all over Texas.

High Wire built its reputation on using regionally grown and foraged ingredients. If you’re ever in Charleston, you should stop into the distillery and say hi to Scott and Ann! Also, try some of their Jimmy Red Corn whiskey. Actually, everything they make is delightful.

Heirloom Pineapple Amaro is made in Minneapolis. To me, this is fantastically bitter but also tastes like roasted pineapple in a glass. One of my new favorites, for sure.

Now, here’s a helpful tidbit of info. You may have heard of fernet. That’s a general term for an amaro with very little to no sweetness. Branca is a producer that makes fernet, and it’s the most well-known. Search out others as well, because they’re all pretty cool.

Almost everything I listed can be found at most liquor stores. Don’t be afraid to try something. Yes, sometimes it tastes like taking your medicine. But I’ll bet the smell of Jägermeister penetrates your early 20s, and surprise — that’s a style of amaro as well.