Williamsburg’s Spuyten Duyvil (359 Metropolitan Ave.) has transformed from a bar dedicated to craft beer into a quintessential drinking destination with hundreds of well-rounded beverage options.
Spuyten Duyvil was one of the first craft beer bars in the neighborhood, opening in 2003, and is coming up on its twentieth anniversary. Now, the menu has been augmented to feature not only craft beer, but a varied selection of cocktails with a focus on amaro.
Greenpointers sat down with Joe Carroll, the owner of Spuyten Duyvil, to chat about his decision to add amaro, conserva, and more to the menu.
Greenpointers: Spuyten Duyvil has been a destination for craft beer in Williamsburg for almost 20 years. What made you decide to switch things up?
Joe Carroll: I wanted to do something fresh. It wasn’t a total pivot; we just decided to augment what we do. We did not get rid of the 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. In the entire city, there might have been seven other craft beer places. We had a lot of stuff people couldn’t get their hands on. The few beer geeks that were around, would come in and be dumbfounded by the collection. We purposely didn’t carry Chimay and Duvil.
Then, the domestic craft beer scene blew up. Five or six years ago, a location dedicated to craft beer lost some of its importance. Craft beer won. What I mean is that you would be hard pressed to go to any place in this neighborhood and not find at least one craft beer on the menu. Plus, domestic breweries opened. All the cool crazy rare stuff are now sold at breweries. We were not the only place that people could get them. I wanted something fresh, so I added amaro.
Greenpointers: Why amaro?
Joe Carroll: I’ve always been attracted to outliers. Amaro used to be for old Italian men. It’s already very popular in Italy and other countries. There are so many different takes on it. And about ten years ago, Fernet got big. Bartenders got into it, then bartenders’ friends tried it. Amaro was ready to be focused on.
Greenpointers: Spuyten Duyvil offered craft beer before it got big. Now, you are offering amaro. Do you expect amaro to follow in the footsteps of craft beer?
Joe Carroll: Amaro will never be a big as beer, but I think going forward we will see it in more places.
Greenpointers: Have you noticed any other trends in the cocktail world?
Joe Carroll: I have noticed that there has been more attention to lower alcohol beer, wine, and cocktails. Spritzes are big, and a vermouth spritz does not have a lot of alcohol. You can sip them all afternoon and not get drunk.
Greenpointers: What is your favorite item on the new cocktail menu?
Joe Carroll: The Sensa Spritz with dry vermouth, Avèze, cucumber, and lime is a new favorite. It’s a bright lime green color with a light, bright taste to match. It has the perfect balance of bitter and sweet flavors. It’s perfect for spring.
Greenpointers: 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 about twenty varieties of conserva, which is essentially tinned fish. We have always done charcuterie, cheeses, pickles. We wanted to augment that as well, but we do not have a kitchen.
I love conserva, and I think it fits with the ideas of drinking vermouth. Ten years ago, no one was eating conserva. Really interesting conserva has only just emerged here in the States over the last couple of years. We are challenging patrons to expand their knowledge and tastes.