I look forward to the end of a meal as the beginning of the amaro course. Concocted from a witch's brew of ingredients—tree bark, mushrooms, angelica, myrrh—these Italian liqueurs, whose name means “bitters,” lend layers of powerful flavor to drinks, from sweet and aromatic to astringent and menthol-like. Viscous, bracing, and often challenging, amari started out as cure-all medicines concocted centuries ago by monks and herbalists. To me, though, they're still mysterious and magnificent. In Italy, they are served mixed with soda or tonic water as palate-awakening aperitifs, or sipped straight as soothing digestifs at the end of a long, multi-course meal. They're also fantastic in cocktails, where they add body and intriguing bitterness.