In Your Cocktail: Mitch e Amaro

The Negroni Mexicana. Photo by Corie English

As I walk past the attractive shelves stocked with every imaginable bottle of booze for sale, I make my way to the back of Mitch e Amaro just as bartenders Jess Johnson and Taylor Dumsky are darting behind the well-appointed cocktail bar as they each make their own respective drinks. Digging through the hundreds of liquor bottles sitting on every shelf and on the countertops behind the handsome bar, they are looking for just the one they need to finish concocting the drinks to photograph for their upcoming horror-themed, summer camp-inspired Thursday night cocktail pop-up happening in just a few days. They dim the lights and take shots with their cell phones of boozy popsicles the color of blood, a s’mores-inspired old fashioned and another drink they call “Cabin Sex,” a play on the fruity vacation cocktail “Sex on the Beach.” When you ask Dumsky why she likes popping up here, she says with a smile, “What bartender wouldn’t want to work behind this bar, in this store, with every imaginable bottle of booze available at your fingertips? It is a bartender’s dream.”

Monthly themed cocktail pop-ups are one of many events hosted at Mitch e Amaro, the cocktail supply store and bar in North Kansas City that draws both industry bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts like moths to the flame. There is also Tiki Tuesday, where Johnson creates a weekly menu of tiki cocktails guests can order, Whiskey Wednesday features different brands of whiskey in different cocktail configurations, and on Friday night there is a tasting that starts at 5 p.m., where people can sample the spirit of the week and order one of several cocktails that features that spirit.

For brothers and booze lovers Ben and Josh Edwards, it is all part of their mission to cater to both the professional and home bartender in equal measure. They were open for only one year before the pandemic forced them to shut down their back bar and focus on selling and delivering cocktail kits and bottles of booze to their loyal customers. Josh is happy to see bartenders and cocktail events resume in the back of their storefront. “For so many months, it was just us back here using this bar, like a staging table for liquor orders that people were placing for pick-up. It is nice to be working the register upfront and look back here and see people enjoying themselves with a cocktail in hand at this bar, that is literally what it was built for,” he says.

This month, the focus for Mitch e Amaro is on negronis, as they will be participating in Negroni Week, an international fundraiser with over 12,000 bars and restaurants from around the world. For one week in September (this year it is September 12-18), the participants mix up classic negronis and negroni variations at their bars to raise money for a variety of charities, and each venue gets to choose where its money will go. 

For the fundraiser, they have created a full list of negroni cocktails and riffs from which their guests can choose. The current staff favorite is a spicy little number, the Negroni Mexicana, which features mezcal in place of gin and the addition of a bright red, bitter liqueur called Amargo-Vallet, created by a Frenchman living in Mexico in the 1800s, that’s made from Angostura bark, rhubarb, clove, cherry fruit, and other woods, roots and spices. Time to try it for yourself.

Negroni Mexicana 

  • 1 ounce mezcal of your choice 
  • .5 ounce Campari
  • .5 ounce Amargo-Vallet
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 2 dashes of grapefruit bitters

Pour all ingredients into a mixing glass with ice, stir until chilled, pour neat or over a big ice cube and garnish with an orange peel. 

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