Averna: a long standing Italian tradition

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At Happy Hour, we bring in products that you won't find anywhere else. 

In saying that, we know that there are plenty of products in our store that you aren't familiar with, so we're shifting the focus of our blog to tell stories about some of the funkier things we carry and how you can make them a part of your own celebration, whatever that may be. 

This week, we’re travelling to Italy to learn about a liqueur that dates all the way back to the late 1800s. 

Amaro Averna first became a product way back in 1868 but its story actually began decades earlier with the help of a man named Salvatore Averna. Salvatore was a community leader for his work as justice of the peace and benefactor of the Abbey of the Holy Spirit. The Abbey of the Holy Spirit was a religious group that lived and worked together. 

Within this community, monks would make a concoction using herbs that was enjoyed by many despite it’s bitter qualities. In 1859, these same monks gifted the recipe to Averna as a thank you for all of his work. A few years later, he started producing Averna at home for his guests. 

It was Averna’s son, Francesco, who ended up selling the bitter to the public by showing up at as many exhibitions he could both locally and abroad. 

Francesco got his big break in 1895 when he got a gold pin from King Umberto I. In 1912, his company was given the green light to include the royal crest on the label which included “Patent of the Royal House.”

The family business continued to grow in it’s third generation as Francesco’s sons continued the legacy and managed to make it through two world wars before importing the product to America. Over time, they added different products to bring diversity to their brand and then sold the entire company to Campari Group in 2014. 

Averna is sweet, thick with a gentle herb like bitterness. It’s made by allowing herbs, roots, and citrus rinds to soak in the base liquor before caramel is added. 

Averna works well mixed with ginger beer or in a variety of bourbon and rum cocktails. 

Joel Gasson