Archive for March, 2008

March 26th, 2008

Event: Scotch for Old People

Scotch for Old PeopleThe Independent’s cheeky and clever head bartender, Evan Harrison, had a dream. He would take the cases of third-rate, Cluny blended scotch that somehow ended up in the restaurant’s basement, create a special menu of cocktails, and sell the drinks for $5. And the Independent said, “Yea brother, and we will donate the money from those scotch cocktails to Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services.”

That’s how Scotch for Old People came about. If you’re tired of cocktail events that take the easy way out by featuring premium spirits, if you want to relive that 1982 wedding reception in the VFW hall, if you want to know what your grandfather was drinking when he came back from Korea, then go to the Indo on the evening of Monday, March 31.

A special guest will join Evan behind the bar that night: drinkboston’s own Scott Howe, who, appropriately enough, hasn’t been on the stick since helping out at his dad’s bar in Worcester during high school.

Since the Indo is one of Boston’s best bars, Scotch for Old People isn’t just about cranking out Scotch and Sodas and Rusty Nails. Here are some of the rough-meets-refined tipples you’re in for:

Gretna Green
1 1/2 oz Cluny scotch, 1/2 oz green Chartreuse, 1 oz lemon, 1/2 oz honey

Inverness
2 oz Cluny scotch, 1/2 oz lemon, 1 tsp orgeat, 1 tsp curacao

Bobby Burns
1 oz Cluny scotch, 1 oz sweet vermouth, splash Benedictine

Cluny Sour
2 oz Cluny scotch, 3/4 oz lemon, 1/4 oz simple syrup

Gertsie’s Gick
1 oz Cluny scotch, 1 oz Lillet Blanc, 1/2 oz Drambuie

The Indo’s general manager, Jess Willis, says, “Scotch for Old People will run from 8:00 until we run out of scotch, or 1:00 a.m., whichever comes first.” Hint: Monday nights are popular with bar industry folk, who will drink just about anything on their night off, so it’s entirely possible the Cluny could be drained by midnight. See you there.

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Posted in Events, Whiskey | 4 Comments »

March 26th, 2008

Ladies’ Night with LUPEC at Toro

Ladies’ Night with LUPEC at ToroAnyone who was at the LUPEC Boston Tea Party knows that the Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails throw a helluva party — and all for good causes. The group’s next event, Ladies’ Night, is this Sunday, March 30, at Toro in the South End.

The Ladies are taking this occasion to toast their forebroads — you know, people like Ada Coleman and Texas Guinan — in honor of Women’s History Month. All those who appreciate both broads and cocktails are invited to attend this coed gathering. No cover charge, no tickets. Just show up around 9:00 p.m. and enjoy a special menu of cocktails made with St. Germain elderflower liqueur (among other tasty drinks), plus Harpoon beer, free apps and a raffle. LUPEC Boston’s newly published book, The Little Black Book of Cocktails, will be on sale. The group will donate proceeds from the event to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Friends Boutique. Dress up in your cocktail-iest attire and stop on by.

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Posted in Events, Liqueur | 2 Comments »

March 22nd, 2008

Easter, eggs, ethanol

Easter’s here again, and that means that after you gather ’round with family and friends and celebrate the Resurrection of the Savior (and/or the more secular Visitation of the Bunny), you’ll need a good, stiff drink … with an egg cracked into it and shaken until deliciously frothy. Misty Kalkofen and a special guest bartender will be giving their arms a workout tomorrow night with a special menu of egg cocktails at Green Street. Get more details on the LUPEC Boston blog. See you there!

Posted in Events | 1 Comment »

March 22nd, 2008

Ladies, lads, liquor

Girls drinking at a bar

Some interesting items came over the transom this week that had to do with the supposedly specialized booze preferences of women. First, reader Adam M. pointed me toward a Reuters article about a new Russian vodka, Damskaya, or “ladies’ vodka.” The vodka is being “touted as a glamour product for upwardly mobile women in booming Russia,” and its ads “show the elegant, violet-tinted bottle wearing a pleated white skirt which is blown upwards to reveal the label.” Wow. What says “glamour” more than a purple vodka bottle wearing a skirt?

Next, the Ladies of LUPEC Boston told me about a post on the Thinking of Drinking blog called Gender Specific Cocktails? The blogger, Sonja Kassebaum, a Chicagoan who co-founded the North Shore Distillery, writes, “Do most women really only like the fruity, sweet (and/or light) cocktails? Even if that were true, is that because that’s really their preference, or is it because of how spirits have been marketed to them, and/or because of a lack of education & experience with other choices?”

I argue that it’s the latter. Women’s alleged preference for “girly drinks” has at least as much to do with marketing (hello, Damskaya!), education and peer influence as with actual taste. I mean, if the palate is really as gender-determined as drinks marketers imply, then the women who make up a large chunk of the audience for fine wine — a complex, generally non-sweet beverage — are genetic freaks. As are the growing number of female drinkers who, like me, appreciate vintage, “grown-up” cocktails layered with the flavors of whiskey, vermouth, gin, bitters and classic liqueurs.

Which brings me to an article by the Wall Street Journal’s Eric Felten that was published a couple of years ago, “He Drinks, She Drinks.” Anyone seeking a thoughtful analysis of gender stereotypes at the bar should read this. Felten writes:

“Girly drinks limit men and women both. Women get lulled into the habit of drinking cocktails that don’t taste like, well, drinks. And for men, it’s even worse: In their haste to avoid anything that smacks of the emasculating girly-drink taint, they deny themselves the great adventure of exploring cocktails in all their variety. They’re both missing out. The recent revival of interest in classic cocktails presents a long-overdue opportunity to break out of the tyranny of the girly, giving men the freedom to order mixed drinks without shame and women the chance to order drinks worthy of grown-ups.”

“The tyranny of the girly!” Yes, we are all under the well-manicured thumb of the collective Cosmo drinker. But classic cocktails will set us free! Gender stereotypes at the bar will be crushed! That is, as soon as articles like Felten’s start appearing in publications whose readerships aren’t dominated by men.

Posted in Booze in the news, Vodka | 2 Comments »

March 15th, 2008

The Independent – Best Boston bars

The Independent

Established: 2001
Specialty: Cocktails, beer, wine
Prices: Moderate
Atmosphere: Take your pick — attractive neighborhood eatery on one side; cozy pub with board games and TV screens on the other.
See Best Boston bars for address and contact info.

The Independent in Somerville’s Union Square is kind of like that middle sister who, after an awkward adolescence in which she was often overshadowed by her older and younger siblings, grew up to be the attractive, smart girl who’s really easy to hang out with.

The Indo, as regulars call it, has made a series of tweaks to its concept over the years, trying to achieve the magic trick of appealing to a wide-ranging clientele while cultivating its own identity. Chefs have come and gone, as have periods of sub-par food. Funky cocktail-lounge seating has been installed and removed, cheese tastings and poker nights have had their run, and live musical acts have mostly given way to iPod playlists. Fortunately, in the past couple of years, the food, the drink, the service and the concept have all settled into a nice groove.

I’m partial to the drink, of course. The Indo’s general manager, Jess Willis, is responsible for resurrecting vintage cocktails in Somerville. The frequently updated menu has included such gems as the Algonquin, the El Presidente, the Gin and It, and the Perfect Pal (Rittenhouse rye, Aperol, sweet and dry vermouth). Head bartender Evan Harrison is bringing his own enthusiasm for old-school mixology to the program, as well as helping to expand and improve the Indo’s beer list.

Evan, his fellow bar crew, and the servers on the floor have a laid-back but professional style. Chef Paul Oberhauser’s kitchen does a nice job with seasonal ingredients and satisfyingly simple dishes like steak frites and panko breadcrumb-crusted cod with bacon and clams. The burgers are good, too.

One of the nicest things about the Indo is that you can choose between two different spaces: the pub, a good place to watch the game or drink with a group of friends; and the restaurant, if you want to feel more like you’re having an Evening Out. Either way, the food and drink stay the same, as do the reasonable prices: $7-$9 for cockails, $5-$7 for most beers, and $13-$24 for entrées.

Posted in Boston bars, Cocktails | 4 Comments »

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