“We’re not serving you drinks. We’re serving you an experience.”  This is how owner Tony Abou-Ganim introduced us to the premise behind the small, bright, Italian-inspired ‘inoteca e liqouri bar.  When Jeff and I selected this as one of our Stories from Behind the Bar events for this year’s Manhattan Cocktail Classic, we had no idea what to expect. We didn’t know anything about the place, but were drawn by the focus on amaro, those delicious Italian bitter liqueurs I’ve been slightly obsessed since my fall trip to Milano.  We made a very good choice!  In the able hands of bar manager Chaim Dauermann and his staff, the amaro of the day—Ramazzotti— was shaken, stirred, and even combined with an egg to produce some wonderfully delicious cocktails.

Chaim pouring our first drink, Ausano's Punch

The event was sponsored by Ramazzotti—surprisingly, an amaro that I had yet tried.  The charming Konstantin Prochorowski (of The Experimental Bar in London) better known as Coco, shared a bit about the brand history and formula.  Developed in 1815 in Milano by a pharmacist, Ramazzotti combines 33 different ingredients including bitter orange peel, cinnamon, cardamom, mint, vanilla, ginger, and cloves.  I found it to be a bit less bitter and an easier flavor than other amaro like Zucca or Fernet Branca.  It was good sipped on its own, with soda over ice, and in a variety of cocktail styles ranging from a punch with black tea to a flip.

Of the many cocktails we imbibed, my favorite was Howick Hall, which is a regular on the ‘inoteca menu.  I loved the combination of the herbals of both the Ramazzotti and the gin, the nutty Maraschino and the brightness the lemon juice added.  Really delicious!

Howick Hall (created by Chaim Dauermann)

1 oz Ramazzotti

1 oz gin (Breuckelen)

2/3 oz lemon juice

1/3 simple syrup

¼ oz Luxardo Maraschino

dash of Regan’s Orange Bitters

Our final drink of the event was the Ramazzotti Flip, created by bartender Will. (Sorry, I didn’t catch his last name.  I may have been distracted by his cuteness and all that cocktail shaking he was doing.)  I have come to appreciate flips as a decadent, rich ending to a flight of cocktails.  The Ramazzotti and a strong citrus grappa Nardini Acqua di Cedro held up quite nicely with the egg.

Will pouring the Ramazzotti Flip

In my opinion, these Stories from Behind the Bar events are the best part of the Manhattan Cocktail Classic.  As with the other such events I went to the gracious hospitality of the people hosting these equals the quality of the cocktails and is what really make them memorable.  As Tony started off the event by saying, “We’re not serving you drinks. We’re serving you an experience.” 

And our afternoon at ‘inoteca e liquori bar was a fabulous experience.  Cheers!