How Craft Beer Connoisseur Bar Spuyten Duyvil turned into an Amaro hotspot

Williamsburg Spuyten Duyvil (359 Metropolitan Ave.) has grown from a dedicated craft beer bar to a quintessential drinking destination with hundreds of well-rounded drink options.

Spuyten Duyvil was one of the first craft beer bars in the area, opened in 2003, and is celebrating its twentieth anniversary. Now, the menu has been expanded to feature not only craft beer, but also a diverse selection of cocktails with an emphasis on amaro.

green pointers sat down with Joe Carroll, owner of Spuyten Duyvil, to discuss his decision to add amaro, conserved and more to the menu.

One of Spuyten Duyvil’s new amaro cocktails, “Fernet About It”.

Green pointers: Spuyten Duyvil has been a destination for craft beer in Williamsburg for nearly 20 years. What made you decide to change things?

Joe Carroll: I wanted to do something fresh. It wasn’t a total pivot; we just decided to increase what we do. We didn’t get rid of craft beers or wine. We had two amaro drinks on the menu, but now we have over a hundred.

Back then, in 2003, there were only a few places to get craft beer. Only a few restaurants and bodegas sold them. It was an underground thing. Throughout the city, there were maybe seven other craft breweries. We had a lot of stuff that people couldn’t get their hands on. The few beer geeks that were there walked in and were stunned by the collection. We voluntarily did not transport Chimay and Duvil.

Then the domestic craft beer scene exploded. Five or six years ago, a place dedicated to craft beer lost a bit of its importance. Craft beer won. What I mean is you would be hard pressed to walk to any place in this neighborhood and not find at least one craft beer on the menu. In addition, national breweries have opened. All rare and crazy things are now sold in breweries. We weren’t the only place people could get them. I wanted something fresh, so I added amaro.

Green pointers: Why amaro?

Joe Carroll: I’ve always been drawn to outliers. Amaro used to be reserved for old Italians. It is already very popular in Italy and other countries. There are so many different takes on it. And about ten years ago, Fernet became big. Bartenders got into it, and then friends of bartenders tried it. Amaro was ready to be focused.

Green pointers: Spuyten Duyvil offered craft beer before it got big. Now you offer amaro. Do you expect amaro to follow in the footsteps of craft beer?

Joe Carroll: Amaro will never be as big as beer, but I think in the future we’ll see it in more places.

Green pointers: Have you noticed any other trends in the cocktail world?

Joe Carroll: I noticed that more attention was paid to beer, wine and low alcohol cocktails. The spritzes are big and a vermouth spritz doesn’t have much alcohol. You can sip them all afternoon and not get drunk.

One of Spuyten Duyvil’s talented bartenders concocts a Sensa Spritz, a new à la carte cocktail.

Green pointers: What’s your favorite dish on the new cocktail menu?

Joe Carroll: The Sensa Spritz with dry vermouth, Avèze, cucumber and lime is a new favorite. It is a bright lime green color with a light and bright taste to match. It has the perfect balance between bitter and sweet flavors. It’s perfect for spring.

The back garden of Spuyten Duyvil, the perfect place to sip a Sensa Spritz.

Green pointers: In addition to amaro, you have added conserva to Spuyten Duyvil’s repertoire. Tell us about the new food selections.

Joe Carroll: We have added a selection of around twenty varieties of conserva, essentially canned fish. We have always made charcuterie, cheeses, pickles. We wanted to increase that too, but we don’t have a kitchen.

I love conserva and think it fits the ideas of drinking vermouth. Ten years ago, nobody ate canned food. A really interesting conserva has just emerged here in the United States in the last couple of years. We challenge customers to expand their knowledge and tastes.

About Wesley Williamson

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