Amaretto – ‘little bitter’, the liqueur you might know from the Amaretto Sour, The Godfather, Blueberry Tea – is reputed to be the result of a surprise romance between a 16th Century artist and his widow Madonna muse.
In 1525, Bernardino Luini was brought in to paint frescoes for Santa Maria delle Grazie, a church in Saronno, Italy. This student of Leonardo da Vinci was looking for a model and found her in a beautiful, widowed inn-keeper. Some say they become lovers.
In gratitude for immortalizing her in paint, the widow brought Luini a home-brewed gift: apricot kernels soaked in brandy. This delicious concoction became the basis for amaretto liqueur.
Sons of Vancouver – ‘a really, really small batch distillery on Vancouver’s North Shore’ – have created their own Amaretto: ‘No 82’. This Vancouver Amaretto brew incorporates apricot kernels, bourbon vanilla beans, orange peel, Demerera and BC blackberry honey.
Sons of Vancouver is the brainchild of James Lester – Salmon-Arm born with a background in oil and gas and Australian bartending and Richard Klaus – born in Fort St. John with a similar background in oil and gas and Alberta bartending.
Lester and Klaus call their Amaretto ‘No. 82’, because it took 81 batches for them to get to a concoction they liked. Now, their ex-bourbon sherry wood single malt barreled Amaretto is flying off the shelves, one small batch at a time.
Written by Elizabeth Newton
Header: The Magdalen. Bernardino Luini. 1525
Portrait of a Lady. Bernardino Luini. 1520-25