This is a delicious, warm-your-soul cocktail with rye whiskey, Luxardo Maraschino, Amaro, ginger simple syrup, fresh lemon juice, and orange bitters. This recipe makes one cocktail.
I do want to make a quick note that this is a riff on the traditional Witty Comeback recipe. The original recipe calls for rye whiskey, Averna Amaro, ginger simple syrup, and fresh lemon juice. However, my recipe is inspired by the Witty Comeback cocktail that I first had at an incredible bourbon bar in Southern Pines, North Carolina. The menu at this bar listed four ingredients as descriptors for the cocktail: “rye, luxardo, amaro, and orange bitters”. After a few failed attempts, I finally combined the new ingredients with the original, and thus this version of the Witty Comeback was born.
Ingredients for the Witty Comeback Cocktail:
- 2 oz. Rye Whiskey
- 1/2 oz. Amaro (like Averna)
- 1/2 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
- 1/4 oz. Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
- 1/4 oz. Ginger Simple Syrup
- 2 dashes Orange Bitters
What Rye Whiskey should I use in a Witty Comeback?
Your favorite one! 🙂 But really, here are a few that I recommend that won’t break the bank:
Can I use Bourbon instead of Rye Whiskey?
Yes, but it won’t be the same cocktail. Rye whiskey has a spicy note that is specifically good for the Witty Comeback, so I recommend seeking it out if you don’t have a bottle in your collection. You can use bourbon, but it won’t taste the same.
What Amaro should I use in a Witty Comeback?
Averna is the preferred Amaro for this cocktail. Does it make a difference which Amaro you use? Yes. Amaro styles are very different from one another in terms of aroma, taste, ingredients, weight, and finish. Averna is a richer amaro with a caramel, savory, and bittersweet flavor, which pairs perfectly with the other ingredients in this cocktail recipe. Some other options would be:
- Amaro Nonino (which is also used in the Paper Plane Cocktail recipe)
- Amaro Montenegro
- a boutique Amaro that is herbal, bitter, and rich in flavor
How to Make Ginger Simple Syrup
This part is easy, I promise. Simple syrup is literally simple: it’s a combination of equal parts water and sugar. I always make a small batch of flavored or infused syrups, because I honestly just don’t go through them quickly enough to qualify making a larger quantity.
Infused syrups are particularly easy, and here’s how to make Ginger Simple Syrup:
- Combine 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup granulated sugar in a small saucepan. Warm the pan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves into the water.
- Sprinkle in 1 teaspoon of fresh grated ginger*, and stir to mix it into the syrup. Steep the ginger in the syrup for one hour, and then strain it out.
Notes on Ginger Simple Syrup:
- I add about 1/2 teaspoon of vodka to my small batch infused simple syrups so they’ll keep in the refrigerator for about three weeks. (The vodka helps the syrup keep longer!)
- *If you’d rather not use grated ginger, cut a piece of ginger off about the size of the tip of your thumb. Cut it into small pieces, and steep in the simple syrup as directed.
- I don’t use ginger often, so I grate ginger as soon as I buy it, then keep the grated ginger in an airtight container in the freezer for up to three months.
How to Make a Witty Comeback Cocktail
- Pop a coupe glass (or rocks glass) in the freezer for five minutes before serving.
- Combine rye, Averna, lemon juice, maraschino liqueur, ginger syrup, and orange bitters in a cocktail shaker.
- Fill the shaker halfway with ice.
- Secure the cap and shake vigorously for 20 seconds.
- Strain the cocktail into the prepared glass.
- Garnish with an orange twist or dehydrated orange.
This drink is boozy and SO delicious. I actually created it as the signature cocktail for the Man Cave Happy Hour, which is a very fun podcast about bourbon and whiskeys! Jamie and Matt are the hosts of the podcast, and have graciously invited me to join them twice now. I highly recommend subscribing and tuning in if you’d like to learn more about the bourbon industry, awesome cocktails, and products you may have not heard of before!
This drink is an absolutely fantastic amaro cocktail recipe, specifically an Averna cocktail recipe. Keep an eye out for more amaro cocktails from me soon, but in the meantime, check out this Paper Plane Cocktail with Nonino Amaro.
If you make this drink and you love it, a comment and rating below would be amazing! Tag me on Instagram if you post a photo to social media, too. As always, feel free to reach out to me directly if you have any questions!
Witty Comeback (Rye and Amaro Cocktail)
- 2 oz. Rye Whiskey
- 1/2 oz. Averna Amaro
- 1/2 oz. fresh Lemon Juice
- 1/4 oz. Maraschino Liqueur
- 1/4 oz. Ginger Simple Syrup*
- 2 dashes Orange bitters
- Chill a coupe glass in the freezer for 3-4 minutes.
- Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and fill halfway with ice.
- Secure the lid and shake vigorously for 20 seconds.
- Strain the cocktail into the chilled coupe glass, and garnish with an orange twist or dehydrated orange.