Archive for November, 2010

November 23rd, 2010

A splendid war

As my friend Senator John aptly tweeted during the grand finale of the year-long Cocktail Wars at Woodward Tavern in the Ames Hotel, “If you dropped a bomb on the Ames Hotel, we’d be drinking light beer and screwdrivers for months.”

Arguably Boston’s three best bartenders — Jackson Cannon of Eastern Standard and John Gertsen and Misty Kalkofen of Drink — competed against each other and Miami’s finest, John Lermayer, in a showdown that capped a series of drink-mixing battles between Boston bartenders (and sometimes their colleagues from other cities). And there to cheer the competitors on was seemingly every other bartender of note who wasn’t on the stick that night. Thankfully, no bombs were dropped. Except for this one: the guy from Miami won.

That’s right, John Lermayer, who tends bar at the Florida Room and consults for hotel bars around the world, bested his Beantown colleagues fair and square. I should know, because I was one of the judges. His winning cocktail, the Misty Morning Sour (see below), hit all the criteria admirably: quality, creativity, presentation and use of surprise ingredients — persimmon and Barenjager honey liqueur. Misty Kalkofen took second place for her mezcal-based Per Simon. In the quality department, all the cocktails got high marks on my ledger — particularly considering they were each created in an astonishing 20 minutes.

Here are some pics from the bash, plus the recipes that each of the four competitors came up with. What a pleasure it was to literally drink in their talents.

Misty Morning Sour
John Lermayer

Persimmon (a couple slices)
Strawberry (one or two)
1 1/2 oz Plymouth gin
3/4 oz Aperol
3/4 oz Barenjager
3/4 oz lemon juice
1/4 oz simple syrup
2 drops orange blossom water
Egg white

Muddle persimmon and strawberry in a mixing glass. Add remaining ingredients and dry-shake. Shake all again well over ice. Strain into cocktail glass with sliced strawberry and persimmon garnish. The name: inspired by how John imagined his fellow contestant, Misty, would feel the next morning.

Per Simon
Misty Kalkofen

Half a persimmon
2 oz Del Maguey Mezcal Vida
1/2 oz Plymouth sloe gin
1/2 oz Barenjager
1/2 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz agave nectar
1/2 oz Amontillado sherry
6 drops Bittermens grapefruit bitters
Nutmeg garnish

Muddle persimmon in a mixing glass. Add all other ingredients except nutmeg and shake well over ice. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with fresh grated nutmeg. The name: a play on one of the surprise ingredients and on the name of one of the judges, Simon Ford, international ambassador for Plymouth gin.

Once in a Blue Persim-moon
Jackson Cannon

Persimmon (couple slices)
1 1/2 oz Barenjager
1 oz Plymouth gin
1/2 oz lemon juice
1 egg white
Dash Peychaud’s bitters
Sparkling wine

Dry-shake first four ingredients and strain through a tea strainer. Dry-shake strained ingredients with egg white. Shake all again with ice. Strain into a champagne flute, top with Peychaud’s and sparkling wine. The name: inspired by the blue moon in the sky that evening.

Wasp Bite
John Gertsen

2 oz persimmon infused* Plymouth gin
1/2 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz Barenjager
1 tsp black pepper
Barenjager soaked persimmon skin “twist”

Muddle pepper in mixing glass. Add all ingredients except twist. Add ice, shake and double strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with the twist. The name: a play on Drink’s peppery Bee Sting, which is itself a play on the classic Bee’s Knees.

*The Plymouth Gin was infused using a quick infusion technique known as nitrogen cavitation. Gertsen used a 1 liter iSi profi whip canister, added 375 ml of Plymouth Gin and the pulp from 4 medium-sized persimmons, and charged the canister twice with nitrogen.

Except for top photo, all photos by Mark Andrew Deley of Crammed Media.

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November 9th, 2010

Scott Marshall

Bartender profile
Confident, handsome and affable, Scott Marshall could’ve stayed at one of his former gigs — CityBar or Beehive, say — racking up “beloved bartender” awards and impressing the hell out of people who read Boston magazine. Instead, he got serious about mixology and joined the staff at Drink, where, as principal bartender, he has become a formidable talent. He combines a regular-guy knack for pleasing a range of human specimens with a fine-tuned palate for mixing exquisite cocktails.

Like his Drink colleague Misty Kalkofen, Marshall chose the bartending profession over the one for which he earned a master’s degree: accounting. He started down that career path not only because of innate math skills but because, growing up in rural Maine, “the person in town who made money was the accountant.” But he quickly discovered during his first job behind the stick, at the PourHouse (“class of ’99″), that tending bar was way more fun than accounting. “I never spent a day in a cubicle,” he beams.

He was working at the Oak Bar one day when Ryan Magarian of Aviation Gin came in and asked the free-pouring Marshall to make a series of measured cocktails. While Marshall was confident of his drink-making skills at that point — he had attended a James Beard Award dinner on the strength of a pomegranate-cucumber take on a Southside — this experiment with consistency and balance was eye-opening.

Once at Drink, he took full advantage of that establishment’s extensive training and advanced quickly, winning a scholarship to and acing the rigorous BAR spirits and mixology course. He can put his own spin on the complex layers of a classic tiki drink and show a 50-pound block of ice who’s boss. At the same time, he’s the guy who brings a skull full of Chartreuse to a bartending competition and who, with flirtatious gusto, fulfills the request of a group of Boston Opera House-bound cougars for six shots of tequila and one shot of chilled vodka.

Hometown
Stonington, Maine.

Past bartending jobs
Silvertone, CityBar, Beehive, Oak Bar, Cali Terra, PourHouse, Halfway Cafe.

Favorite bar in Boston other than your own
The one where a good friend is working that night.

The drink you most like to make
Old-fashioned Old Fashioned at Drink.

The drink you least like to make
Bloody Mary, anywhere, anytime.

Most memorable cocktail request
“My buddy over there left his wife for another woman. The other woman told him today that she never wants to see him again. We need two drinks … with bourbon.”

A famous person you’ve served
Paul Newman.

What you say at last call
If you’re not aware of what time it is, you don’t need another.

What you drink at the end of your shift
Reading Pennsylvania lager.

Worst bartending job you ever had
I’ve learned a lot everywhere I worked. It’s all timing.

If you weren’t a bartender, you’d be…
A beach bum.

Least-appreciated alcoholic beverage in Boston bars
Allen’s Coffee Flavored Brandy — fuck Kahlua!

Most overrated alcoholic beverage in Boston bars
Grey Goose [vodka] and Patron [tequila].

The best or worst pickup technique you’ve ever observed
Sending a girl a drink through the bartender from across the room. Grow a pair … get up and do it yourself.

The biggest myth about bartenders is…
That a customer has a chance of picking one up. I don’t know of a successful relationship that began with a customer giving their number to a bartender. We usually date each other!

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