A twitter prompt for a thyme infused amaro based apertif went out. This idea popped clearly into my mind and so I decided to make it work. An amaro usually refers to one of the bitter, low alcohol options from Italy. Campari is the most commonly referenced one. An apertif is a low-alcohol drink to consume before a meal to stimulate the appetite. Finally, there is the thyme infusion. My first thought was not to infuse the amaro with the thyme because it would get overwhelmed and instead use the vermouth as the vehicle for the thyme.
The name is an obvious pun on time/thyme, but also a reference to the Americano cocktail (forerunner to my beloved Negroni). An Americano is a simple 1:1 mixture of vermouth and Campari. Because I was using thyme, I wanted a softer flavor from the Amaro and happened to have the beautiful Aperol sitting around (we’ll get back to that in a future post). Aperol is a more citrusy and lighter amaro than Campari with a similar bitter but fruity flavor profile.
While usually a sweet vermouth is used in Americanos, I wanted a more bracing drink and wanted dry vermouth. Additionally, infusing thyme means I needed a more delicate option than sweet vermouth. Noily Pratt is a fantastic vermouth with a light herbal flavor, far more accessible on its own than other readily available vermouths.
I took a handful of thyme and poured over the Noily Pratt into a jar. I let it infuse for 3 hours. This was followed by a simple 1:1 combination of the infused vermouth and Aperol stirred in the shaker. Clear liquids together like this require no shaking. Strained into a nice apertif glass and garnished with another sprig of thyme.
My first attempt was almost right. the thyme flavor was there clearly with the vermouth on its own, but with the A perol it was beginning to get lost. I left the infusion to go overnight and made it again the next day – perfection! A rather bracing apertif for a chilly winter night – orangy with a touch of bitter. Herbal enough between the thyme and vermouth that it constantly plays with the mind as the flavors unfold on the tongue. Aperol will be featured again this month, but for now, enjoy your Once Upon a Thyme in America.