Against all odds, the broodingly bittersweet charms of complex herbal amari digestifs like Cynar and Fernet-Branca have finally made their medicinally soothing way onto local bar shelves such as Abe Fisher, Capofitto, and others.

Most of them are Italian.

But now Philly has an amaro to call its own with Bear Trap from East Kensington's new Rowhouse Spirits.

Dean Browne, the burly, ginger-bearded distiller who posed for the label with a snarl in bare-chested grandeur, made this schnapps-like liqueur for friends who seem to have a fondness for shots of Jägermeister.

Thankfully, it's not much like Jägermeister at all.

This pale brass-colored liqueur is far less sweet and swirling with its own mysterious bouquet of herbal spice: 19 botanicals (licoricey fennel, star anise, and lovage), a post-distillation steep of fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, tarragon, and ginger) and a surprising finish that's both floral (hibiscus, rose hips) and a swelling Thai chile spice.

Try it neat, in a hot toddy, or mix ¼ oz. of liqueur with 1½ oz. of gin and ½ oz. of fresh grapefruit juice and soda over rocks for a refreshing Bear Fizz.

- Craig LaBan
Bear Trap herbal liqueur from Rowhouse Spirits, $35, availabile at the distillery, 2440 Frankford Ave., 267-825-7332;