June 3rd, 2009

Nips – 6/3/09

Things to drink and places to go:

jack-dor I have happily been following Dann Paquette’s brewing career since about the mid-’90s, when he was at the Northeast Brewing Co. in Allston. Numerous brewing stints later, including a recent couple of years in Yorkshire, England, Dann started his latest venture: Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project. Look for Pretty Things beers in your local bar or packie, and drink them. They are really good. I’m partial to the American-style saison, Jack d’Or (left). It’s distinctive and delicious, yet versatile enough for everyday use.

Downtown Wine & Spirits in Davis Square, Somerville, has fairly recently expanded the “spirits” part of its name with hard-to-find bourbons, liqueurs, rums, etc. It also has the best combination website/blog of any liquor store in greater Boston. And they have regular tastings.

packard-wi-fi Scott opened the June Esquire, featuring the annual Best American Bars list, and asked me, “Which Boston bar do you think they picked?” “Drink,” I said. No brainer. (There’s also an RIP sidebar that bids farewell to the B-Side.) Speaking of Drink, on a recent visit I tried Josey Packard‘s homage to the Marconi Wireless, the WiFi: Bonded Laird’s Applejack, Lillet Blanc, Drambuie. Strong, complex, stunning.

maul-ramos-fizz Todd Maul has rather quietly been insinuating craft cocktails into the Boston fine-dining scene. He recently moved from Rialto in Cambridge to Clio in Boston, where he has livened up a cocktail menu based largely on vodka and sake infusions with classically inspired mixtures using gin, tequila, whiskey and rum. As you can see from the pic, he also makes a helluva Ramos Gin Fizz. Go check this guy out.

Finally, an observation and a question: remember when people who patronized bars and restaurants were called “customers?” In the last few years, in some establishments anyway, they have become “guests.” What’s the origin of the switch? I suppose it’s nicer to be considered a guest than merely one end of a cash deal, even though being someone’s guest has traditionally implied that you enjoy their hospitality without having to pay for it.

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10 Responses to “Nips – 6/3/09”

  1. Alex

    I think the switch to guest is an attempt to reflect the idea in hospitality that there is a guest/host relationship between the business and the clientele. In this way, the business is telling the customer they they should feel comfortable, and know that they are going to be taken care of beyond the “you’re giving us money” — There are social rules to being a good host. Likewise, as a guest there are rules as well. Like any party, when both the host and guests are “good”, the whole is greater than the sum if its parts.

    As you pointed out, the idea does seem a bit disingenuous when applied to commerce, but I think the idea is to try and change the expectations people have when they go out to an establishment — In a good way. No idea if it’s working.

  2. erinire

    I got a bottle of that Jack d’Or for my husband some time ago, and he loved it. I’m talking loooO0Oooved it. Five stars, for sure!

  3. ljclark

    Thoughtful input, Alex. Yeah, I think the philosophy behind “guest” is sound. I’m just wondering when this shift started happening.

    Yeah, Erinire, Jack d’Or is a local treasure, for sure.

  4. k.

    Todd (and Jonathan, before his departure last fall) were — I thought — under-appreciated in the cocktail scene: the drinks and service both have been top notch for a couple years now. While the drink prices are on the higher side, the food at Rialto is as good as anywhere and, frankly, cheap money for what it is. It’s been my choice for Harvard Square dining for a couple years now.

    I hope that the cocktail program at Rialto stays on track with Todd’s departure. I have not-so-fond memories of pre-renovation drinks there and remember lax bar service and mediocre drinks. The girls behind the bar last week were solid enough but lacked the particular kind of graciousness that comes with years of experience or super competent training. Having a mentor to demonstrate how it’s done would help them (and Rialto) immensely.

    All that said, the last time I was at Clio the fabulous Nicole was behind the bar and looking bored stiff (and wasting her considerable talents) with the ho-hum, “extra dirty, 12 olives” clientele. One can only hope that Todd won’t meet the same drab crowd and suffer the same fate.

  5. ljclark

    K., Nicole (who brought a much-appreciated feminine presence to the bar at Eastern Standard) seems to have just missed the new era of enlightenment that Clio has entered. Maybe it was an anomaly, but when I was there recently, the people at the bar seemed to be ordering pretty adventurously. Hopefully, with Todd politely pointing the way, that will continue.

  6. Gareth

    Pretty Things makes some delicious beers. Jack D’or is now one of my favorite saisons; I would also suggest trying Baby Tree. It appears dark and heavy, but is surprisingly drinkable at over 8% and the plum flavor makes it refreshing.

    As far as being a “guest” at a bar/restaurnat, I think it’s part of establishments becoming more savvy on how they appeal to their actual customers. If you are considered a guest at your local bar, you could think of your bar tab as a replacement for inviting them to your place as your “guests.”

  7. Br. Cleve

    I was called a “guest” at Target the other day when I slipped on some Oil of Olay spilled on the floor and nearly broke my neck. It seems to be another one of those words that marketeers adopt (or like how the government uses the word “transparency”all the time now) and beat into the ground until its meaningless. Seems to have come of age in the last couple of years.

    There used to be a classic bar on Broad St called Brandy Pete’s, whose motto was “The customer is always wrong”. “Guest” just wouldn’t have the same ring, would it…

  8. Paul Irish

    Been reading for a while, thank you! Great redesign as well.

    One suggestion I beg of you is to include the full content in your RSS feed. Out of 400 feeds I watch, this is the only one with excerpted content. And it makes pandas sad. Everywhere. :(

    Thanksss!

  9. ljclark

    Hey, Paul — didn’t even realize that. Should be all set now. I hate making pandas sad.

  10. Paul Irish

    You rock. It’s beautiful now. :D

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