Sother is the Managing Director at Amor y Amargo in New York City. He makes us two cocktails, one is made with gin and aperol and the other uses bourbon and rye whiskey.
Sother introduce yourself
Hi, I’m Sother Teague and I’m the Managing Director at Amor y Amargo in the East Village, New York City. I used to be a chef and I’d actually worked in 12 different states before arriving in New York. It was here that I was supposed to work behind a bar for 6 months before going back to the kitchen… that was 14 years ago and as you can see I am still behind the bar. It took me about a year to understand why I didn’t want to go back to the kitchen. There are so many common points between bartending and being a chef, from the creation right through to the execution, but I fell in love with being able to communicate with the guests, even though I still love cooking. Here, behind the bar I am with the guest the entire time, from creation to delivery and it will be the same for the next drink and the drink after that. I like to say I used to be a chef and I still am, now I just make chilled soup. My cocktails are very savoury with no sugar or juices added. Once a month here we close the bar on a Monday and take reservations for an evening where we serve 3 cocktails paired with 3 dishes. That’s the time when I can get back into the kitchen, but I always serve the customers myself, so I keep that contact with them.
The classic you want to show us
45 ml of Gin
22.5ml of Aperol
22.5ml of Amaro Monte Negro
2 dashes of Dole Decroffs Pimento Bitters
The bar or party you dream of
I think I am pretty lucky as Amor y Amargo is the bar of my dreams. Fifteen years ago I made a New Years resolution, I would only drink water and for four years I only drunk water. Then, one New Year, I decided I would drink alcohol again, so now I only drink water or alcohol, that’s it. In this bar we have nothing non-alcoholic to drink except water. Basically this bar is an extension of me. The East Village is the best place in the world to make cocktails, in my opinion it’s ground zero for cocktails and people come here for that. There is no other bar like Amor y Amargo and I am lucky to work here.
The spirit you like the most
Rye whiskey is my favourite spirit. I was born in the South of America, in Atlanta and my Grandfather used to drink Rye Whiskey when I was a kid, so I started with that spirit. It’s my favourite spirit to drink and to work with, especially in a straight cocktail like an Old Fashioned. My favourite brand is Old Overholt Rye Whiskey as they are the oldest brand of Rye Whiskey in the world, producing since 1810. In an Old Fashioned I prefer an 80 Proof rather than a 100 Proof Rye Whiskey.
What makes a good cocktail and which product do you want to highlight at this moment
For me, it’s about simplicity. When you get past a fourth, fifth or sixth ingredient it becomes a stew, you lose the authenticity. After that, it’s about being delivered in a hospitable environment. I can have the exact same cocktail in a glass, but the context will change the flavour, it’s about the whole package.
Bitters of course. As I told you before that cocktails are my chilled soup… every soup needs seasoning and here at Amor y Amargo bitters are our seasoning. Of course Angustura is like salt and pepper, but I like Dandelion and more recently I am using Dole Decroffs in everything. I also really like Bittermens bitters, there are so many brands and flavours it’s kind of like choosing a favourite child for me… you just can’t do it.
The signature cocktail you want to show us
22.5ml of Elija Craig Bourbon
22.5ml of Rittenhouse 100 Proof Rye Whiskey
15ml of Laphroaig Ten Whisky
6 drops of Hellfire Bittermens
1 dash of Boker’s Bitters
1 Barspoon of cane syrup
Where do you think we need to go to interview another bartender?
I went to San Sebastian in Spain for my first real holiday in a long time. The culture there is amazing. You just lay on the beach with a Gin and Tonic and eat pintxos. The Gin and Tonics there changed my DNA. My favourite bar to enjoy these is called La Gintoneria with over 120 different Gin and Tonics on the menu.