Coffee and booze are two of the most beloved vices around. Luckily for the good folk of NYC, Amor y Amargo provides you with both. Forsake your plans of waiting forty minutes for a plate of Eggs Benedict on the weekend and enter the tiny bitters bar instead. Behind the stick you’ll find baristartender (okay, that didn’t work, barista/bartender) Amanda Whitt.
Amanda has worked in coffee shops from Seattle to Philly for over a decade. She explains that restaurants often underestimate the value of quality coffee.
“With some exceptions, a lot of restaurants who otherwise meticulously source every other ingredient will have coffee like Illy, or pre-ground pods.”
Amanda believed that the coffee world had much more to offer than K-cups, so she globe trotted to hone in her bean expertise. Along the way, she fell in love with cocktails. When she settled in New York City, she was on the opening team for upscale coffee bar Everyman Espresso. It was there she met Double Buzz founder Natalie Czech. She was already a regular at Amor y Amargo, so when Natalie decided to trade in several part-times for a full-time job, Amanda’s takeover at Double Buzz was a natural fit.
“It was really terrifying the first few times. Sother [Teague] is so amazing, so he expects a lot out of you. You really want to do well when he’s around. I was thinking, ‘he’s going to figure out I don’t know what I’m doing!’ But I faked it long enough.”
Amor y Amargo is a bitters bar, so coffee adoring palates, Amanda explains, are perfectly suited for the dryer cocktails.
“Ugh, I love bitters. The cool thing about bitters ties into the same feelings I have toward coffee. They’re all about stories, secret family recipes. In Italy, it’s unusual to go to a bar that has several bitters from various regions as opposed to all over Italy.”
What are some of Amanda’s bitter sippings of choice? Gentian based mixtures, or Hungarian Unicum and Braulio Amaro. As far as tincture bitters go, she loves Dr. Adam’s Bitters and Birch Bitters from Devil’s Larder. And word has it she’ll be mixing some of her own in the future.
In the meantime, Amanda is happy to stir up a coffee cocktail at Double Buzz. She doesn’t even mind if you walk in tipsy (in fact, she finds it adorable). But be warned, these cocktails aren’t boozy frappes, they’re moody, intense concoctions perfect for the cold weather.
Amanda’s only wish is for you to be just a mite more adventurous.
“Sometimes people think they don’t like an ingredient, but often that has to do a bad night. Emotions or memory. It’s not religion, you know?”
When not behind the bar at Amor y Amargo, you can find her enjoying a drink at Pouring Ribbons, Proletariat, or Extra Fancy.
She’s also not a fan of bulletproof coffee.
Here’s a recipe for the Ice Skates, now on Amor y Amargo’s winter Double Buzz list:
.5 each of Saliers, Amaro Montenegro, Gin and Dark Rum with two dashes of Bittermen’s hopped grapefruit bitters.
Top with 4 oz of an iced washed Columbian coffee;
Amanda recommends the Commonwealth Finca Buenos Diaz or Counter Culture’s La Golondrina
Garnish with a lemon twist
Serve neat or on the rocks.