Amor y Amargo – The Bar, The Cocktail and Sother Teague

Amor y Amargo – The Bar, The Cocktail and Sother Teague

 On my most recent visit to the cocktail Mecca called New York City I had a couple free nights to gallivant through town and sip my way to enlightenment.

Drinking and eating in NYC is a blessing and a curse. A visitor only has so much time. Battle lines must be drawn, strategy chosen and routes locked in.

The East Village cocktail scene is like something out of lore. You can’t swing a bat without hitting a world-class drinking hole. One of the first places on my list was Amor y Amargo (Spanish, Love and Bitters).

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The intimate Amor y Amargo | Image credit triptease.com

The last time I visited NYC I ran out of time before making it down to the Bitters Emporium. This time I made a point of it.

Upon arriving I’m surprised by the size of the space. A few seats at the bar and a tiny area for some standing patrons. Perfect size for an intimate experience. Shirley Brooks and I grab seats at the bar. Quickly greeted by a surly, but warm, gentleman. While perusing the menu I realized the bitters show room and cocktail bar doesn’t just sell bitters and have it in their name. They celebrate everything that is bitter.

There is not a drop of citrus at Amor y Amargo, and the only soft drinks they offer are still water and bubbly water.

I overhear the barman expertly guide a guest, who’d asked for a coke, into sipping an amaro based cocktail using the most subtle form of suggestion. The customer’s delighted with the drink. Another bitters convert made.

That bar man, Sother Teague.

Sother Teague Amor y Amargo

Sother Teague – image used from his twitter profile @CreativeDrunk

I was impressed hearing Sother sell a drink made with Meletti Amaro to his guest, explaining that, “cola-nut is one of the ingredients in Meletti”.

My turn to order comes. I choose swiftly. Between my quick draw on the cocktail choice and my eyes fixating on the back bar, Sother realizes that my interest goes beyond casual consumer. We quickly fall into bartender conversation, though Sother never skips a beat with other guests coming and going. Watching the way Sother controls the room is a treat.

While chatting, he mentioned that he was teaching a class at PDXCW on the psychology of a cocktail bar. Seeing Sother in action and then hearing him speak on these same ideas in a classroom setting proves to be refreshing. Getting back to hospitality and then taking it a step further and showing how and why these practices work in a real setting. (Grippo’s report from PDXCW14)

The two cocktails Shirley, and I order are amazing.

Diamonds And Guns Cocktail Amor y Amargo

Diamonds And Guns Cocktail – Image credit Byron Smith for the NYTimes.com

“Diamonds and Guns”, by James Beard Award winning bartender Chris Lowder, a combo of Blanc Vermouth, Genever, Chartreuse, White Rum and celery bitters.

Amor Y Amargo

“8 Amaro Sazerac”

And the house favorite, the “8 Amaro Sazerac”.  A combination of eight Amari, Peychauds, Orange Bitters and served in a Green Chartreuse rinsed glass.

We have brought this creation back to the bitter capitol of the West and are celebrating its maker, Mayur Subbarao. (Thank you sir!)

While enjoying our cocktails, Sother notices my eyes continuing to dart around his back bar and asks if I have any questions about bottles. My reply, “Where do we start”?

Proud of his obscure bottles, Teague is kind enough to indulge my curiosities. Pointing out a good handful of exotic, strange and hard to find bottles he starts pouring me tastes.

Having both taught at the New England Culinary Institute and worked as a researcher for the Food Network, Sother is knowledgeable in all his selections – I’m truly enlightened by what he knows and the way he chooses to explain the products.

My favorites of the night:

Amor-Y-Amargo

Varnelli Punch

Varnelli Punch. An amazing product. Complex and unusual, it tastes like a clarified eggnog with a bit of Jamaican pot still rum.

Amor-y-Amargo

On the left, the obscure Alagnoberta Fernet (Seriously, try googling it!) and on the right, Letherbee Fernet from Illinois.

A few Fernet bottles that were a pleasure to meet. The obscure Alagnoberta Fernet, and the delicious Letherbee Fernet from Chicago.

When you are in NYC, even if you live there, make sure you stop by. Visit one of NYC’s great barmen, Sother Teague, along with his talented team. Have a deliciously bitter drink and stay for the enlightened conversation.

A tribute to Amor y Amargo:

The Amor y Amargo Cocktail, by Shirley Brooks of The European SF

Amor y Amargo Cocktail by Shirley Brooks

Amor y Amargo Cocktail by Shirley Brooks, of The EuropeanSF

.25oz Melleti Amaro

.25oz Aperol 

.25oz Lazzaroni Amaro

.25oz Ramazzoti Amaro

.25oz Campari 

.25oz Varnelli Amaro Sibilla

.25oz Amaro CioCiaro

.25oz Averna Amaro

4 dashes Peychauds Bitters

Green Chartreuse rinse 

Lemon twist 

Combine ingredients in a stirring vessel. Add ice. Stir and strain over a large ice-cube in a rocks glass. Express lemon oil, garnish and serve.

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1 comment

  • mattgrippo

    […] is a take of my favorite cocktail is the 8 amaro Sazerac from my favorite bar, the 8 Amaro Sazerac from Amor y Amargo in New York City. I am missing the green chartreuse needed for the drink, but […]

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