The lights were dim and the vibe was hip as Hubs and I sauntered our way into Amaro last Sunday night. I instantly felt like I’d stepped out of the city where fleece and Crocs abound, and into a setting where I could rock my skinny jeans and my faux-hawk with the best of them. (Writer’s note: I do not actually rock skinny jeans or a faux-hawk. I am far too old and far too unhip. Such stylistic illustration was used merely to symbolize the chic ambiance of the restaurant, and should only be left to those with utmost style expertise and corresponding cojones).
This was not the first time Hubs and I found ourselves sauntering into Amaro; I’d been to the press night a few weeks prior, where Chef Alec Schuler tantalized local media folk with small bites from Amaro’s menu, like octopus carpaccio, brined with bay leaf, salt and pepper, and local pulled pork shoulder over basmati rice, just to name a few. While Alec fed the eager crowd and hobnobbed with the food geeks (like yours truly), Dante and Bianca, the pair of brains behind Amaro’s extensive beverage menu, whipped up incredibly creative, quirky cocktails for all of us to sample. A personal fave? The Summerdrop, a refreshing elixir that makes you feel like you’re on the sunny shores of (insert your favorite Mexican beach here), with reposado tequila, triple sec, house-made sweet and sour, strawberry, mint, lime and cayenne. O-freaking-lé!
Back to the sauntering in with the skinny jeans and faux-hawk (please read disclaimer above): we’d been invited to attend Amaro’s Mixology Competition, a squaring-off of six local mixologists to find the beverage that would be dubbed Amaro’s signature cocktail. The catch? The concoction must include Boulder’s one-and-only 303 spirits and bitters (Amaro’s namesake in Italian). The cast of mixologists included Tyler Anderson of Salt Bistro, Greg Van Wagner of Oak At Fourteenth, Matt Lanning of Pacifica in Aspen, Brian Melton formerly of TAG in Denver, Britt Henze — and last but not least, the lovely Bianca Huggins from Amaro. We sampled drinks with names like “Hanky Panky”, “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” and “Big Willy Style”, while snacking on small bites from Chef Schuler’s kitchen (I wanted to wrap myself in the local salami, thank you very much) and rubbing shoulders with some of Boulder’s other cocktail enthusiasts.
Once the cocktails had been sampled — once, twice, maybe three times, just for good measure — the votes were tallied and the winner was announced. Tyler Anderson of Salt Bistro took home the bragging rights with his “Big Willy Style” cocktail. Unfortunately, I found that Big Willy tasted more like latex paint and less like a pleasant libation, but hey – that’s just me. Big props to all of the mixologists for concocting such fun, creative drinks.
Amaro is located in the Diagonal Plaza in North Boulder, sandwiched between its sister restaurants, Tangerine and Arugula. You can also find Amaro on Facebook.
Tyler Anderson’s Winning Cocktail Recipe:
Big Willie Style
1.5 oz 303 Vodka
.5 oz Lime Juice
.5 oz Luxardo Amaro
1 oz Raw Sugar Simple Syrup
3 Slices of Cucumber
Garnished with Fresh Serrano Pepper
Laura Hobbs: Yogini, cook, wife, writer, blogger, dog lover, cheese fanatic, gardener, wino, travel addict and occasional grumpy pants who lives in aria-inspiring Boulder, Colorado. She’s an occasional writer for elephant journal and the Ambassador and social media guru for Yoga Pod. She’s also got her own lil’ blog, Prana & Pie, where she writes about yoga, food and life as we know it. She’s flattered you read this far.