If you've never experienced amaro, Olives and Oil is a good place to start.
New Haven's new Italian restaurant, by the owners of Elm City Social, features nearly two dozen of the bitter herbal liqueurs behind its bar. They're intended as mid-meal or after-dinner digestifs, says bar manager Conrad Meurice, with a list arranged by rank from sweetest to most bitter.
In the spring, the bar will introduce amaro flights, for more exploration, and those already familiar with Fernet-Branca — which enjoys a cult following among people in the restaurant industry — will be thrilled to see the spirit served on tap at Olives and Oil. (The owners say they're the first in the state to do so.)
Many of the bar's cocktails ($10 to $13) are built around various amari, like the Aperol flip with Uncle Val's Botanical Gin and egg white; the Amore di Amaro with limoncello, Amaro Nonino, Amaro Montenegro and spiced pear liquor; and the Balsamic Blessing with Cynar, ginger liquor, grapefruit, lemon, strawberry, basil and 10-year balsamic vinaigrette.
Fernet also appears in a boozy milkshake, blended with Kahlua, chocolate and coffee ice cream and mint, and "The Don" is Olives and Oil's "draft" Negroni, with gin, Gran Classico and Carpano Antica.
Others, like the "Figgetta Bout It," meld unique flavors like fig, lemon, cassis and masala chai tea with pine-nut orgeat and tiki bitters. The "Olive It Dirty" pays homage to the restaurant's moniker, an intricate take on a dirty martini with olive brine, dry vermouth and fat-washed vodka (the spirit is infused with olive oil that's been muddled with olives).
Where Elm City Social has carved its place into the New Haven scene as a craft cocktail destination, Olives and Oil spotlights wine, with 16 rotating red, white and sparkling options on draft and dozens more by the bottle. A beer list offers American craft brews alongside Italian lagers, sour ales and spiced beers.
OLIVES AND OIL, 124 Temple St., New Haven, is open Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Monday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. The bar is open until last call. 203-891-5870, olivesandoil.com.