OK, so more on my homemade Amer Picon.
Being reasonably satisfied with the homemade brew I made based on Jamie Boudreau's recipe for the hard-to-get digestive, I took my clear, unmarked bottle to Jake Walk, a local cocktail joint of my acquaintance where I know they have a bottle of real Amer Picon. By real, I mean the version of the amaro that has been produced in France in recent years—a recipe I am led to believe is different from what was sold in the early 20th century.
As I understand Boudreau's story, he created the homemade Amer Picon to match the taste of the currently sold amaro. But when he took it to the Tales of the Cocktail convention and had some experts try it against a flask of the original, they decreed it matched the Real McCoy.
Ari Form and Matt DeVriendt were on duty when I passed through the door at Jake Walk, and, spotting my plain, bottle-shaped bag, knew what I was up to. They produced the Amer Picon and we taste-tested it next to my home-brewed potion. First of all, color. My stuff was visibly lighter than the legit Amer Picon, with an orangey-brown hue. Then the taste. The store-bought Amer Picon was deeper in flavor with more herbal, bitter and chocolate qualities. The brighter citrus and orange flavors came through in mine—not surprisingly, given at the orange bitters and tinctures that went into it. They were definitely different beasts.
They concluded my stuff to be a success, and we agreed that, while both were good, the homemade stuff—supposedly the original flavor of Amer Picon—was better suited to mixing cocktails. It had more vim and life and wasn't as heavy. It would marry better with other flavors. It would float to the top and sparkle, not weigh the drink down.
Is this the end of my Amer Picon obsession? Maybe not. I have a friend going to Europe soon and she promised to bring me back a bottle of the drink. Stay tuned.