Averna

$ — 29% ABV — Cola

It's especially frustrating when a very good liqueur doesn't give a peep on anything it's made from. You might expect the bottle to be black, but it's Averna itself that's opaque. Thick and syrupy, there's only a gentle whiff of bitterness to this amaro, barely enough to justify the word.

Soda addicts will immediately find a similarity between Coca Cola and Averna Amaro, no doubt because both drinks' main flavorings are probably vanilla and kola nut. The uncertainty is due to the fact that neither company discloses their recipes, even a little bit, but most authorities are convinced those two spices have the starring role — especially since Coke has 'cola' in the damn name.

Those unfamiliar with kola nuts can track them down in a specialty spice shop or — that place where anything can be found — the internet. They come from the kola, a big bush of a tree that grows these giant knobby pea pods with hard fruit packed inside that look like pale yellow coffee beans — which maybe makes a bit sense, because kola too is a natural source of caffeine.

It's unclear if that means Averna Amaro has caffeine in it was well, but it very well might. It's so popular at dinnertime partly because it's not only relaxing but also stimulating, the perfect one-two punch to get you sitting forward and involved in good companionship. It's an especially killer date drink, both simple and inexpensive but also intriguing and unexpected. But you'll never find it on one of those "What should I drink on a date?" listicles, because this is actually good advice.

Gruppo Averna is located in Caltanissetta, Sicily in western Italy. Established in 1868 by Salvatore Averna, it is now the head of a conglomerate.