This story originally ran in SouthPark Magazine. See Part II on Wednesday, with couple No. 2.
Amanda Britton & Larry Suggs
In late 2015, Larry Suggs thought his girlfriend, Amanda Britton, had found someone else. Every day for more than a week, she made up excuses to leave for hours at a time.
What she was really doing: working on the front porch of her twin sister’s Mint Hill home, building Suggs a home bar. It was the perfect Christmas present for a bar aficionado.
Britton found the base of the bar—a bookshelf—at the now-defunct Clark’s Antiques on Central Avenue. Then she found the wooden palettes she used to make the bar top at the warehouse for Artisan Beverage Group. She treated the wood, stained it, sealed it, and then etched their initials in it.
One afternoon while Suggs was out, Britton set it up in the dining room of his Collingswood home. When he got back, she was sitting at the bar with an Old Fashioned ready for him.
“I was pretty shocked,” says Suggs, smiling. “I had my hands on my head, silent.”
That night, he asked Britton to move in.
After spending a year as an apprentice of mixologist Bob Peters at The Ritz-Carlton Charlotte’s Punch Room, Suggs, 28, launched the bar program at SouthBound, the new taco and tequila restaurant in South End. Britton, 31, is the bar manager and head mixologist at 204 North in uptown Charlotte and was recently named “Mixologist of the Year” by the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association.
The cocktail power couple’s home-bar also has graduated—from the crowded dining room to a cellar room on the backside of the house that seems tailor made for an operation like theirs. Recessed shelves now hold their vast liquor collection, full of local spirits such as Sutler’s Spirit Co. in Winston-Salem and Muddy River Distillery in Belmont.
A side table holds Britton’s collection of vintage glassware, and throughout the space are small, meaningful touches, like Fernet Branca posters (their favorite spirit) and figurines of pineapples—the international symbol of hospitality, the driving force of their careers.
“Our job isn’t making drinks,” Britton says. “It’s taking care of people.”
Further evidence that they’re using this space for exactly what it’s supposed to be: After Suggs bought the home, he found a few prescient items in the deep recesses of the crawl space: a decades-old ice cooler, ice pick, and strainer.