Amer Picon is a French aperitif with a unique bittersweet orange flavour. It was originally intended to be drunk on ice or neatly. However, it has gained popularity as a key ingredient in cocktails such as Brooklyn, Liberal and Picon Punch.
Unless you live in Europe, you probably won’t find this liqueur on the shelves of your local liquor store. That means you need a replacement. The good news is that we have great replacements for Amer Picon that you can use to make any cocktail without the original.
What can I use to replace Amer Picon?
If you can’t get your hands on a bottle of Amer Picon, try Picon Beer, Picon L’Orange, Amer Torani or Ramazzotti as your best options. Although they all have a unique flavour profile, they all produce bitter, dry orange notes suitable for cocktail recipes that require an original ingredient. Besides Amer Torani there are two bottles of American manufacture, Golden Moon Amer this Picon and Amer Depot, which are also worth testing.
1. Picon Beer
Picon Bière, made in France, is a popular aperitif from the same producer as Amer Picon. Fresh and dried orange peels are macerated with neutral alcohol and impregnated with hinchona bark and gentian root before they are distilled. The colour and sweetness of the drink comes from the addition of caramel and sugar.
Picon Beer is made to look exactly like a Picon Bitter, but it is specially made to be mixed with beer. Combine a wheat beer, lager or IPA with this aperitif and you get a more complex drink with hints of bittersweet orange.
As a last resort you can use Picon Beer to prepare cocktails, but keep in mind that it is lighter and less bitter than the Amer Picon. This ratio may need to be increased in order to achieve comparable results.
2. Picon L’Orange
Picon L’Orange (formerly Picon Club), is the third product of the Picon trilogy. It is intended to be combined with wine or wine cocktails. The rest of the Picon tends to sink to the bottom of the glass, so the Picon L’Orange is the perfect answer. This substitute has a darker colour and a less intense bitterness, but still has a characteristic orange, bittersweet taste.
The biggest problem with using Picon L’Orange or Picon Beer as an alternative to Amer Picon is the difficulty of finding it. They also contain less alcohol than the original.
3. Bitter Torani
Amer Torani is an American copy of Amer Picon, easier to find in stores than the Picor range. Some people find this drink a bit robust and tiring and drink it alone. Amer Torani is the best option for mixing in cocktails and although it is not very advisable as a replacement, it is great if you pull out.
Ramazzotti is an Italian amarol liqueur made from a 200 year old recipe. The characteristic flavour consists of 33 different herbs and spices, including cinnamon, orange peel, cardamom and galanga.
Amer Picon is a handy substitute, although it has a stronger orange flavour. Amer has remarkable notes of coffee, while Ramazzotti has stronger notes of anise.
Tip: Experienced bartenders recommend combining Ramazzotti with orange liqueur and a bitter orange base to get closer to the original bitter taste.
5. Golden Moon Bitter Picon
Golden Moon is a Colorado distillery that respects the traditional distillation methods that have been used for centuries. Their bitter liberation known as Picon is made from hand-selected plants, herbs and spices. They chose ingredients that Gaetan Picon originally used in the 1830s to make it bitter.
Golden Moon Amer this Picon has a bittersweet and spicy scent, with a dry mouth feeling due to quinine and a pungent orange flavour. It has 39% VBA, which is comparable to the original Amer Picon. Drink this drink alone or add it to your next classic cocktail like the one in Brittany.
6. Amer Depot
Another alternative you might consider is a product called Amer Depot. Made in a traditional distillery in Nevada, this drink pays homage to the Basque heritage of Nevada. Just like the bottle of Golden Moon, this is an attempt to recreate the original Amer Picon. Not always the easiest to find in bottle shops, you can try it online.
CioChiaro is an Italian liqueur first produced in 1873. It has an intense bitter orange with herbaceous notes such as cloves and cola. Although the taste profile is slightly different, CioCiaro is an excellent substitute for Bitter. It can be used in the same recipes and is readily available in the United States and Canada.
In short: Ciocharia is a region of Italy; the name also refers to the type of traditional sandals known as ciocha which are worn mainly by women.
Cointreau is an everyday brand that you can find in every bottle shop in the United States. On his own he is no match for Amer Picon. You better combine it with a dark Allspice Dram and Bitters to get a little closer to the original.
Zwack Unicum is a Hungarian liqueur with a disturbing sound that sounds a bit like Amer Picon. It has a unique bittersweet taste that comes from the mixture of 40 herbs and spices in a drink that is then aged for six months in oak barrels. Unicum is ideal to be consumed as an aperitif, digestif or as a complement to cocktails.
Summary of Amer-Picon substitutes
|Picon beer.||18% FGTB (36 proofs)|
|Picon the Orange.||18% FGTB (36 proofs)|
|Amer Torani||39% FGTB (78 proofs)|
|Ramazzotti||30% ABV (60 trials)|
|The golden moon of Amer Deet Picon||39% FGTB (78 proofs)|
|Bitter Depot.||44% ABV (88 proofs)|
|CioCiaro||30% ABV (60 trials)|
|Cointreau||40% ABV (80 trials)|
|Zwack||40% ABV (80 trials)|
Pay attention: The original version of Amer Picon had 39% VBA. As the flavours evolved over time, a new recipe was created with 21% less ABV.
Highlights on Amer Picon
- The main ingredients are gentian root, orange peel and hinchona.
- This drink was already widely available when the first bartenders’ books were written, which is why it is often referred to in cocktails.
- Amer is a French word that means bitter; in Italian, amaro. Amer Picon is often called Picon Amer.
Related reading :
Look for replacements for grenadine, Lillet Blanc, Tuac and Galliano.
If you like to make drinks with a bitter taste of orange and spices, Amer Picon is one of the best suggestions. The problem is that it is not available in most countries outside Europe, so you will need a replacement. The best options are Picon Beer, Picon L’Orange, Amer Torani or Ramazzotti. Although none of them match the original taste, they all work well as cocktails.
Some American brands that follow Amer Picon well are Golden Moon Amer dit Picon and Amer Depot. Although they are not very common in shops, you can easily find them online.
CioCiaro, Cointreau or Zwack Unicum work to the limit. The Amaro Montenegro or the Amaro Nonino are two options that we have not tested here, but which are recommended as worth trying when looking for suitable alternatives.
Why do you want to use Amer Picon? Cocktails, with or without ice? Please let us know in the comments below.
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