St. Agrestis, the makers of a bottled digestifs and aperitifs offered at hip liquor shops around the city and hot restaurant and bars such as The Modern, Gramercy Tavern, Momofuku Ko, Torst (and, even our own Time Out Market in Dumbo), has opened its own tasting room in Greenpoint. The Brooklyn-based Italian spirits company hopes to bring more knowledge to amaro, especially, with its new space for tasting.
The herbal Italian liqueur has gained more notoriety across Brooklyn as of late, with the expansion of Amor y Amargo–the acclaimed East Village drinking institution–across the water, into Williamsburg. Likewise, Pips, a new bar and restaurant in Brooklyn Heights from the Colonie team, is working with another New York-based spirits producer called Matchbook Distilling, to create its own line of custom amaro to serve at their bar.
"It's always been something that we've wanted. Amaro is so difficult to understand. Until recently, it was hard to learn about unless you want to Italy," says St. Agrestis producer Louis Catizone.
Amaro means “bitter” in Italian and its anti-sweet flavor profile is precisely what draws in those looking to switch up their usual order. It’s typically prepared with a combination of macerated herbs. At St. Agrestis, the mixture is a bit more "spice-driven than those in Italy" with cinnamon, clove, sarsaparilla and gentian. "Those flavors are so nostalgic, all of a sudden people are in their grandmother's living room, remembering flavors of their childhood," says Catizone. "I think we're trending towards more bitter things in many ways. Our palettes are becoming more European, in a sense. The same can be said of cappuccino...balanced without sugar.''
St. Agrestis' taproom shelves are lined with its signature slender, triangular bottles with geometric patterned labels, filled inside with the glowing amber liquids.
The new space is a collaboration with the team’s neighbors at Greenhook Ginsmiths. It’s a joint project that will offer tastings of amari, with negroni and spritzes available on tap, well as weekly specials (such as a recent amaro hot chocolate) and a selection of gin-based cocktails. It’s all going down at the 20 foot-long dining table, meant to replicate the feeling of “an Italian dinner party.”
It's a homecoming for Catizone, whose father immigrated from Calabria and whose mother hails from Greenpoint proper. "Greenpoint has changed so much with such a strong artisan community now. It's really fun to be a part of the community and be able to open our doors and be a space that hosts that," he says, adding, "but more than that, I'm excited to host the bartenders who've shown us so much hospitality in their restaurants, to be able to come in and give them that same level of hospitality."
While neither Greenhook nor St. Agrestis are new to the neighborhood, according to the team, it is a chance to build greater community within their manufacturing area and have a place to host their already-loyal customers.
St. Agrestis’ taproom will be open on Saturdays and Sundays from 1pm-6pm (unless otherwise noted online). It’s located at 233 Eagle Street, Brooklyn, NY 11222.