Omnivore - A bitter pop-up

S.O.S. Tiki Bar hosts NYC's Amor y Amargo, a bitters tasting room

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New York City’s cocktail scene is unrivaled. Don’t take our word for it. At last year’s Tales of the Cocktail, the annual booze conference in New Orleans, NYC gathered coveted awards for Best American Bartender, Best American Bar Team, World’s best Cocktail Menu, and World’s Best Bar. Best New Spirit went to an amaro (Amaro di Angostura). Come to find NYC has a bar focused on this bitter spirit and it will be popping up in Atlanta on Mon., Feb. 15.

Amaro is the Italian word for bitter and refers to the bitter class of liqueurs primarily used for digestive qualities before and after a meal. You know, those ingredients that stick out on a cocktail menu—Aperol, Campari, Fernet Branca, Averna, Cynar, Ramazzotti… On this side of the world, adventurous drinkers have embraced their complexity and the extra layer of flavor they add to a cocktail.

Sother Teague runs Amor y Amargo, the kind of bar that would be next to impossible to exist in any city but New York. The cozy emporium in the East Village serves only stirred and spirit forward drinks without citrus or sweeteners and stocks over 50 tincture bitters and 70 potable bitters. The only other non-alcoholic mixers in the bar are water and club soda. There are about a dozen highly coveted seats. He and bartender Lindsay Matteson have taken their show on the road to impart their unique style and perhaps trigger inspiration in other cities.

So far "Amor y Amargo Goes South" has stopped in Charleston, St. Petersburg, and Nashville. We asked Matteson, “Why Atlanta?"

“There is no way we could tour the Southeast without visiting Atlanta. The city has a reputation for great cocktails and food, and every bartender I’ve met from Atlanta is top-notch. Until now I have only seen the airport in Atlanta and years ago became a “regular” at One Flew South. I would actually schedule layovers in that airport when I was flying so I could visit this bar. And if the bar and restaurant in the airport is that awesome, I cant wait to see what the rest of the city has to offer.”

Teague and Matteson have teamed up with Ari Form (GM and beverage director at Little Trouble), stirring things like the 6 Amaro Manhattan and the 8 Amaro Sazerac. The Sazerac riff uses 8 amari in place of traditional rye, Peychaud’s bitters, orange bitters, and a rinsed glass of green chartreuse. In addition they will present our local United States Bartenders’ Guild (USBG) members with a seminar on all things amaro—history, recipes, and talking with customers about the spirit.

On Mon., Feb. 15, S.O.S. Tiki Bar in Decatur becomes Amor y Amargo beginning at 8 p.m. The last stop on this tour is in Birmingham on March 16. S.O.S. is located in Decatur in the former Paper Plane spot at 340 Church Street. 404-377-9308.