Archive for November, 2006

November 14th, 2006


Launch - crowd lived its motto, “bars, bartenders and imbibing in Beantown,” last night at its launch party at Green Street in Central Square, Cambridge. Friends, bartenders and journalists packed into the bar area sampling vintage cocktails and snacking on Clams Casino. So many of Boston’s best bartenders were there that I got a little nervous about having all that talent gathered in one place should some freak disaster strike. Thankfully, we all made it through the night unscathed but for some light liver damage.

Launch - Dylan, Misty, JoeFour guest bartenders presented and served four different vintage cocktails: Jackson Cannon, the Jack Rose; John Gertsen, the Sazerac; Misty Kalkofen, the Widow’s Kiss; and Brother Cleve (cocktail historian, member of Combustible Edison, Ambassador of Cocktail Nation), the Millionaire. Dylan Black, owner of Green Street, was my co-host, and Joe McGuirk backed everyone up behind the bar. Stay tuned for more info, including recipes of the evening’s cocktails.

Posted in Bartenders, Events | 1 Comment »

November 13th, 2006

The Boston Herald on

Boston Herald articleOn October 25, the Boston Herald’s “Food in Brief” section reported on a new website devoted to Boston bars and bartenders. Yeah, that would be this website, Note: the Herald’s recipe for the Marconi Wireless was a bit garbled in translation. Here’s a recipe that roughly follows the 2/3 applejack to 1/3 sweet vermouth ratio.

Posted in Booze in the news, drinkboston in the news | 1 Comment »

November 8th, 2006

A great beer fest, a stupid beer fest guide

As usual, BeerAdvocate and the Weekly Dig (with the help of the Harpoon Brewery) did a great job setting up the Return of the Belgian Beer Fest, which took place October 27-28 at the Boston Center for the Arts (aka “the Cyclorama”). I went to the Saturday night session and tasted some absolutely delicious, unique brews. I spent about half the evening camped out near the Shelton Brothers‘ table. The brothers, Dan and Will, were serving really incredible, esoteric farmhouse ales from Belgium and France. I also sampled some good stuff from U.S. breweries, including a terrific saison from the Southampton Publick House.

Belgian Beer Fest Devil GirlNow, I can’t say enough good things about the guys who run BeerAdvocate, Todd and Jason Alstrom (they’re on my “Best drink web sites” page). They have done a lot to make Boston a great beer city — with their site, their column in the Weekly Dig, and their beer fests at the BCA. But the cover they chose for the Return of the Belgian Beer Fest guide? A nude model holding aloft a glass of beer? Have they secretly been drinking Coors? This is how they describe the thinking behind the image:

“For those of you familiar with Boston’s Weekly Dig, you might recognize this immediately. Designed by Tak Toyoshima, the Devil Girl has been a mascot of sorts for the Dig since its beginning … Others might recognize the Devil Girl when it was licensed and adapted for use with Dann Paquette’s original Rapscallion beer line … We thought how cool would it be to have an actual model pose in the exact same manner as the Devil Girl for the guide cover? This is what Tak created … Our best cover to-date! Yes, that’s an actual person. The ‘model’ will be at the fest (the Dig’s booth) if anyone wants to get their guide signed.”

Oooh, sign my guide, Devil Girl!

The ‘model’ (I guess she didn’t want her name mentioned on was photographed against a red background, but a “Devil Girl?” — she didn’t exactly have a tail or horns. I’m sure the ‘model’ is a nice person and that she and the beer fest organizers thought they were being tasteful in using her image on their guide. “Hey, it’s Belgian! Europeans are cool with nudity.” But how is that different from St. Pauli Girl beer bringing its annual Playmate — oh, sorry, spokesmodel — to beer fests? You would think that an organization that is all about distancing itself from the coarse ways of major breweries might at least be ironic in putting a nude model on its beer fest guide, to show how the craft beer drinker is more intelligent than the Bud Lite drinker. Like, they might have created a guide with a nude Devil Girl on the front cover and a nude Devil Guy on the back cover. That would’ve made me laugh and say, “These guys get it! They understand that their audience isn’t just backward-baseball-cap-wearing guys who want to guzzle flavorless beer.”

There were a lot of women at the beer fest — I’m guessing around 40 percent. I’m sure a lot of them were unfazed by the guide cover. But I’m sure a lot of them, like me, said, “What the hell? Is this some kind of lame beer-guy thing? What am I doing here?”

Posted in Beer, Events | 1 Comment »

November 5th, 2006

Gin and It

Gin and ItExperimentation can be a tough thing to do at a neighborhood bar, but Jess Willis, the general manager of the Independent (75 Union Sq. Somerville), has boldly ventured backward in time to create the Indo’s current cocktail menu. She put the Fitzgerald, the Brandy Alexander and the Algonquin on there. Then she dug deep into the vault and dusted off the Gin and It. Praise the lord.

This is one weird cocktail by the standards of the contemporary world, where anyone who orders a Martini expects a mixture of about 50 parts gin or vodka to one part dry (white) vermouth. Well, get this: the Gin and It calls for sweet (red) vermouth, and lots of it. (Vermouth is red or white wine flavored with herbs and spices, lightly fortified with grain neutral spirit and, in the case of red vermouth, lightly sweetened.) The recipe in Dale DeGroff’s book The Craft of the Cocktail consists of equal parts (1.5 ounces each) gin and sweet vermouth, plus a dash of Angostura bitters and an orange peel. DeGroff explains: “The Gin and It was actually ordered in the Hoffman House and other New York bars of the 1880s and ’90s, simply as a Sweet Martini, and later as a Gin and Italian. During Prohibition, Gin and Italian was shortened to Gin and It.”

A brief web search turned up recipes for the drink varying from the half-and-half version above to two parts gin, one part sweet (Italian) vermouth. But Jess decided to trick her version out with three parts vermouth to one part gin. Eeewww, you’re saying. That’s because vermouth has unfairly come to be viewed as a necessary evil to be administered only by the nano-liter so that people can claim they’re drinking, say, a Manhattan instead of a chilled whiskey with a cherry. The fact is, without vermouth, the “cocktail” would not exist. It’s an ingredient as essential to the pantheon of mixed drinks as bitters and spirits. The Indo’s Gin and It, which also benefits from a dash of orange bitters, is tasty proof of this. Check it out for $8.

Posted in Boston bars, Cocktails, Gin, Vermouth | No Comments »

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