Spend one night at Bar Botanico and you can travel the world (figuratively speaking).
Kelsie Sinagra, co-owner of the Lawrenceville bar, is one of the many Pittsburgh bartenders and bar owners who have turned to global spirits in recent years. The bar’s shelves feature everything from Italian amaro and Irish gins, to Haitian rums and a Nordic aquavit.
International spirits have been a growing beverage trend for decades. This boom has turned formerly unknown drinks — pisco, super punch, grappa — into household names. But despite the increase in popularity of internationally made spirits, Sinagra has still managed to find a few unique bottles for her shelves.
One of Sinagra’s favorites is Paranubes, an “undisturbed” Mexican rum she jokingly calls one of the bar’s favorite “toys.” Paranubes dates back to the 17th century, when Spaniards brought sugar cane to Mexico, and with it, rum. The spirit is produced from wild yeast by small, rural farms and distilleries in Oaxaca, which many consider to be Mezcal country.
The rum is distilled in Oaxaca’s cloud forests; this mountainous region’s wild yeast lends to a briney, blue-cheese, funky taste, what Sinagra describes as “really pungent.” The savory flavor rings clear in the bar’s coming-soon salsa verde cocktail, a pairing of Paranubes, Ancho Reyes poblano liquor, house-made salsa, and chili oil.
Bar Botanico is one of the only city bars to carry Atamán, a sweet Spanish vermouth. It’s a product of Bodegas Barbadillo, the first distillery to bottle and name Spanish sherry wine (manzanilla). Its family-owned distillery has passed through six generations; Atamán is inspired by these old-style wines that have lasted centuries. The vermouth is crafted from a sherry base and peppered with chamomile, wormwood, rosemary, and orange peel, finishing with an enjoyable bitterness.
There’s also Nomad Outland Whisky, dubbing it “hyper-international.” The scotch is first distilled in Scotland, then travels to Spain to age in sherry casks. The end result is full of dark fruit and spice.
Bar Botanico is far from the only bar in Pittsburgh to explore international spirits, though they do have some more out-of-the-box options (all of which can be tasted at their Lawrenceville location).
In Highland Park, Casa Brasil will soon be taking on authentic Brazilian rums and cocktails. Amaro and grappa are becoming as expected as spaghetti at many Italian restaurants; pages of hot sake and soju fill menus at restaurants like Soju and Umami. Even Wigle Whiskey has tried global spirits with the aquavit-style, rye-based pickle whiskey.
Expand your horizons a bit and give these a shot.
Bar Botanico. 4325 Butler St., Lawrenceville. barbotanico.com