Pisco cocktails and a sexy scene in Jackson Heights
Time Out New York / By Chris Schonberger
Riding the 7 train to Queens is a well-established pilgrimage for the city’s gastronomes. But save for the annual St. Paddy’s Day bender in Sunnyside, boozehounds rarely follow suit. That might change once cocktail lovers catch wind of Amaru, a new Jackson Heights drinkery from the owners of Peruvian chicken chainlet Pio Pio. With a long marble bar, colorful mise en place and attentive, vest-clad mixologists, the place could easily fit in with the haute watering holes of Manhattan and Brooklyn. But once you settle into a bar stool, you begin to notice some differences: The drinks are dominated by pisco, that clear South American grape brandy that’s been knocking around the margins of the cocktail scene for the past few years. The crowd is almost entirely Spanish-speaking, with significantly more skin on display than you’d find in the East Village. And when the witching hour strikes, a worldly playlist gives way to lively Latin beats and some hip-shaking worthy of a Shakira video. As the city’s fancy cocktail bars begin to drop their stuffy posturing, Amaru feels ahead of the curve: It’s at once civilized and loose, trendy yet true to the neighborhood.