What can I use instead of Cardamaro? The best substitutes for Cardamaro are Punt e Mes, vermouth, and Pasubio. Italian bitter amari, like Averna, Montenegro, Meletti, Nonino, Tosolini, and Cynar, are also excellent alternatives.
Cardamaro is a wine-based Italian amaro (vino amaro) developed in the 1950s. Infused with botanicals, but not cardamom, Cardamaro contains cardoon and blessed thistle (artichoke relatives) cloves, ginger, and licorice root. This light-bodied, bittersweet liqueur is barrel-aged in oak, making it an ideal aperitif or cocktail ingredient. Here are the nine best substitutes for Cardamaro.
The Best Cardamaro Substitutes
Punt E Mes
The ideal substitute for Cardamaro is Punt e Mes.
This Italian variety of red vermouth is named Punt e Mes (point and a half) because it contains one part vermouth and half a part quinia amara.
The ingredients include spirits, sugar, and an infusion of 50 botanicals.
The flavor hints at the sweetness of vermouth, with toffee undertones. Still, Punt e Mes has the herbaceousness of an Italian bitter, with cloves and citrus coming forward.
Punt e Mes is delicious sipped with soda or tonic as an aperitif, similarly low-alcohol to Cardamaro.
You can substitute it in cocktails, such as a Roberto Roy (a bitter Italian Manhattan), Margarita, or Negroni.
Enjoy Punt e Mes in a 1:1 substitution for Cardamaro.
Another excellent substitute for Cardamaro is sweet vermouth.
Sweet vermouth is an Italian fortified wine infused with brandy, sugar, and botanicals, like vanilla, wormwood, chamomile, sage, and coriander. It dates back to 1786 but was made using an ancient Roman recipe.
Like Italian amari, vermouth was originally a medicinal elixir but became famous for its herbaceous, bittersweet flavor.
Vermouth is traditionally used in Manhattan and Negroni cocktails, so you can use it if you don’t have Cardamaro. Enjoy vermouth as an aperitif.
Replace Cardamaro with vermouth in similar quantities, with the proviso that it is slightly higher in alcohol.
Pasubio is another vino amaro, making it an ideal substitute for Cardamaro.
Based on an aged wine, Pasubio was created in the early twentieth century by famed digestif creator, Guiseppe Cappelletti.
Pasubio is infused with alpine-style herbs, such as pine sap, mint, strawberries, and blueberries.
With an earthy flavor, Pasubio has a bitter chocolate warmth.
Like Cardamaro, Pasubio is best chilled, neat, or over ice. It’s also an ideal alternative to Cardamaro in spritzes, with tonic, soda, or bitter lemon.
Use Pasubio in cocktails, such as sours or twists on Manhattans and Negronis.
Use the same amount of Pasubio as you would Cardamaro.
Averna is an excellent bitter replacement for Cardamaro.
Averna was the first licensed spirit in Sicily, made commercially since 1868. Initially, Averna was sold as a herbal tonic, but today it is a popular Italian aperitif.
Like Cardamaro, Averna contains a variety of botanicals, such as citrus, licorice, juniper, anise, myrtle, and pomegranate, giving it a delightful bittersweet quality.
It has a thick, syrupy consistency and rich flavor that reminds new drinkers of Jägermeister.
Use Averna instead of Cardamaro as a digestif, enjoying the citrus and caramel notes.
Averna also makes a delicious cocktail ingredient, such as in the Black Manhattan or the Paper Plane, which combines Aperol, bourbon, and lemon juice.
Use Amaro Averna to replace Cardamaro in equal measures – but be aware that Averna has an ABV of 29, and Cardamaro only 17.
Montenegro is an Italian favorite and a delicious replacement for Cardamaro.
A “medium” amaro, like Averna, Montenegro was first made in 1885. It contains over 40 botanicals with baking spice resonance, such as bitter orange peel, coriander, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves.
This deep orange amaro has a bitter herbaceousness with a citrus-forward flavor. This tartness isn’t as intense as in other armari, so it is an excellent replacement for Cardamaro.
Also, like Cardamaro, Montenegro is lower in alcohol than other amari. It’s ideal as a neat sipping beverage, with its gentle floral fragrance.
Montenegro is a perfect substitute for Cardamaro in Negroni-style, tiki cocktails, and spritzers.
Replace Cardamaro with equal measures of Montenegro.
Another delicious amaro substitute for Cardamaro is Meletti.
Amaro Meletti differs from other amari in its use of the kola nut, which gives it a distinctive chocolate undertone.
Combined with anise, cinnamon, and saffron, amongst other herbal ingredients, Meletti is slightly less bitter and fruity than other amari.
Enjoy Meletti instead of Cardamaro on the rocks or with soda as a digestif. It also makes a great cocktail ingredient if you want a variation on a sour or Manhattan.
Replace Cardamaro with a similar measure of Amaro Meletti.
Try Nonino as a bitter Italian replacement for Cardamaro.
Amaro Nonino has a grappa base, making it one of the more potent amari – it has an ABV of 35%.
However, the year-long aging in barrels and botanical ingredients prevent it from being overly aggressive, with citrus notes at the fore. This amaro also contains thyme, wormwood, and saffron.
With a fruity grape flavor and hints of caramel, Nonino is a tasty alternative to Cardamaro, as it appeals to wine lovers. Enjoy it sipped neat or on the rocks.
Enjoy Nonino in the same quantities as Cardamaro, but be aware that it does contain more alcohol.
If you like a slightly more bitter flavor, try Tosolini as a substitute for Cardamaro.
Amaro Tosolini Liquore d’Erbe is one of the more bitter amari, with a fruity, citrus-forward flavor. High in alcohol, Tosolini is barrel-aged and contains more than 15 botanicals.
Enjoy Tosolini instead of Cardamaro as a digestive, savoring the spicy caramel notes. Or try it in a twist on the Manhattan: the Brooklyn contains Tosolini, whiskey, vermouth, and Maraschino cherry liqueur.
Use the same amount of Tosolini as you would Cardamaro, so long as you like a bitter beverage.
An unusual replacement for Cardamaro is Cynar.
Cynar is a particularly bitter amaro with a potent 70-proof alcohol level.
Created in the 1950s, Cynar is similar to Cardamaro in that it contains an unlikely herbal ingredient, the artichoke (Cynara scolymus in Latin). Like Cardamaro, you don’t taste the vegetal quality but the bitter botanicals.
If you enjoy the potency of Jägermeister, Cynar is ideal as a Cardamaro alternative. However, its complex flavor makes it a delicious spritz or mixed with grapefruit juice like the popular Cardamaro cocktail.
Cynar is also an interesting cocktail ingredient if you want a bitter element, like in the Berlioni.
Use Cynar as you would Cardamaro, with the proviso that it is far more potent.