Rocco’s in Belltown (ostensibly a pizza parlor, really a den of great cocktails) has a Capitol Hill sibling. Though instead of pepperoni and shrubs, Herb and Bitter Public House will deal in Spanish-leaning plates and amaro-leaning cocktails.
When the Than Brothers pho shop left its digs at 516 Broadway East for a new spot across the street, Rocco's owner Jesus Escobar and his team began a massive overhaul on the 1923 building, giving it a sort of rustic library vibe—like Rocco's, but with more reclaimed wood. They unearthed skylights, added wainscoting and wallpaper, clad the bar in wood recovered from elsewhere in the space, and even tore out a weird warren of wooden structures in the back and replaced it with a 1,000-square-foot patio under a retractable glass roof.
As the name implies, cocktails here will rely heavily on the bitter charms of amaro, Italy's signature herbal liqueur. The plural is amari, and plurality definitely applies to the vast shelves behind the bar, crammed with just about every iteration bar manager Leroy Thomas could find: gentle versions and bracing ones, even variants made in Chicago and Argentina.
If amaro isn’t your thing, Thomas has eight different spirits to serve straight from the barrel they were aged in, and 20 taps, many pouring less-common beers.
Chef Alex Golden, an alum of Bar del Corso, says his lineup of seasonal tapas, raciones, entrees, and desserts will include charcuterie, cheese, housemade sausages and croquetas and preserved (smoked, cured, pickled, etc.) fish, meat, and vegetables. All meant to be shared.
After an industry welcome night, Herb and Bitter is closed today but should begin quietly pouring drinks on Tuesday. Keep tabs on the pub's Facebook page for updates and details.