Archive for the ‘Bartenders’ Category

June 9th, 2010

Boston does the Can-Can

stgermain-cancan-classic

Four Boston bartenders competed in yesterday’s third annual St. Germain Can-Can Classic at the Bowery Hotel in New York City, and two of them took home the top two prizes. Congrats to Bob McCoy of Eastern Standard for his 1st place, $5K win and to Misty Kalkofen of Drink for her 2nd place, $2K win.

Three cheers as well to competitors Aaron Butler of Russell House Tavern and Sam Treadway of Drink for rounding out Boston’s prowess in this mixology event. Each of the four bartenders became eligible to compete in the Can-Can by winning St. Germain’s monthly cocktail contests.

McCoy, who also employed the elderflower liqueur to great effect at drinkboston’s Bartenders on the Rise event, impressed this year’s Can-Can judges with the mixture below. More recipes and tidbits to come as I get them.

Elixir Alpestre
By Bob McCoy

2 oz Bols Genever
3/4 oz St. Germain
1/4 oz Becherovka
1 dash Angostura Orange Bitters
6 drops Pernod Absinthe

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass, add ice and stir. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

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Posted in Bartenders, Cocktails, Liqueur | 5 Comments »

May 9th, 2010

Let’s hear it for barbacks

barback

If you think of a night out at a bar as theater, barbacks are the seasoned stage hands, making sure that the show runs smoothly and that the actors (aka the bartenders) have all their props for stellar performances. Just as theatergoers never really think about what’s going on behind the scenes, bar customers don’t pay much attention to the bodies whizzing behind the bartenders, tapping kegs, stocking liquor bottles, replenishing ice bins and delivering food. So I asked some veteran bartenders for a few words on the importance of a good barback — and whether great barbacks go on to be bartenders.

Any bartender out there who wants to give a shout-out to a great barback, by all means chime in with your comments!

Josh Childs – Silvertone, Trina’s Starlite Lounge. “I have been lucky to work with some great barbacks, from Junior who saves my ass by pretty much doing all the work Tuesday evenings at Silvertone, to Henrique at the Beehive. While Henrique was technically the barback, he really was the best bartender there — he bartended and barbacked. What makes these guys great is the little things, like, when you have just poured the last of an obscure bottle, right beside you is the backup, waiting.

“I think you know someone is a great barback when the bar staff has given them a great nickname. In the case of [Trina’s] Starlite Lounge, we have Trina’s cousin, Joey Vegas.

“Right of passage for a new barback: coordinate with another bar [on the premises] first, then, during a busy part of the evening, tell the barback that you have just broken a glass in the ice well. Send them to get a ‘glass magnet’ at the other bar, where of course, the customers and staff are eagerly waiting (and giggling) for their arrival.

“I believe the restaurant/bar business is one of the last apprentice systems where, yes, a barback can become a bartender. Speaking from personal experience, a barback can even end up owning a bar.”

Danielle Marshall – Green Street. [Danielle recently left Post 390, where she worked with the barback she praises here.] “His name is Magno — not Mango, as he is playfully called. I have no specific example, because I do believe he is the example. Magno has been exceptional every time I have worked with him. He brings his game as well as a positive attitude that almost always ensures an easy, productive night. Magno anticipates my needs and allows me to focus more on the guest interactions and less on dishes, stocking or running food. What separates Magno from the pack is his willingness and ability to speak to guests and management or handle service tickets, but without ever overstepping his bounds. He has a knack for what he does, and it’s truly appreciated by this bartender.”

Scott Marshall – Drink. “A great barback is invaluable. I would say the best I have ever had is Henrique who worked at the Beehive. Every time I had a bottle that emptied, he was one step ahead of me and had the replacement open and ready as I turned around to head to the liquor room. He understood completely that his job was to keep me facing the customer and making money, because that would lead to him making more money. I don’t necessarily believe that great barbacks make great bartenders, because there hits a point when they want to bartend and lose the focus on backing. With a 20-percent cut at the Hive, Henrique made the exact same as the four bartenders, so there was no financial incentive to move up, which kept him plugging along, content to not interact with the public and make just as much money!”

Kevin Martin – Eastern Standard. “A great barback knows the ins and outs of what makes a bar run smoothly and efficiently. My right-hand man knows what I need before even I do, and a great back can even anticipate a guest’s needs. He or she knows the menus and is able to field guest questions, making the tender’s life just a little easier and the guest experience that much more special. A good barback is fluid, on his or her toes and is calm and fast. A great barback can absolutely become a bartender, and a good bar will know when to make this move.”

Bob McCoy – Eastern Standard. I want to sing my praises to the boys in black at ES. I don’t know if I could sum up in one sentence or by one example how important our barbacks are. They’ve saved my ass so many ways, so many times every night, whether it’s getting that bottle or syrup I really need on the fly, taking a plate of dishes off my hands, or just greeting new guests and getting them a glass of water and a menu to buy me some more time. But if there’s one thing that continues to amaze me time and time again, it’s that they have the keen ability to anticipate what you need at any given moment, sometimes before you even know it, and deliver it time and time again. We have such a great team at ES, but special thanks have to go out to our two senior backs, Chris Olds and Nick Korn.”

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Posted in Bartenders | 5 Comments »

May 2nd, 2010

Nips – 5/2/10

clio-menuA friend of mine told me that an old flame put the moves on him recently after plying him with drinks. Acknowledging the futility of the attempt to rekindle, the old flame apologized for her brazenness. But she offered this excellent excuse: “It’s spring, and I’m a mammal.”

Well, it’s spring, and I’m a blogger. So here’s some link love…

» LUPEC Boston reviews Todd Maul’s new bar menu at Clio, which leaves all previous bar menus at Clio in the dust.  “The 80-plus drinks … run the gamut,” say the Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails, “from aperitifs ($9) to drinks for two ($25) to tiki drinks & daiquiris ($13), and feature a blend of pre-Prohibition and modern classics.” Many of the offerings are designed to pair nicely with the raw delights at Uni, the sushi bar adjacent to the Clio bar.

» Speaking of tiki drinks … doesn’t the balmy spring weather make you thirsty for the serious Donn Beach/Trader Vic-style versions of these rum-tastic cocktails? Sure, you can get them on demand at Drink, Eastern Standard and now, of course, Clio, among a smattering of other spots. But could somebody open up a REAL tiki bar in Boston, already? This city was once a tiki mecca, and, well, how ’bout sprucing up down-on-its-luck Downtown Crossing with a ridiculously fun bar? Silvertone and Stoddard’s (yes, it’s finally open!) can’t do it all by themselves. Sheesh.

» Speaking of LUPEC Boston and new joints, one of the Ladies, Jane Robertson (aka Pinky Gonzales), does an astute write-up of Harvard Square’s new Russell House Tavern for Joonbug (which reviewed drinkboston’s Bartenders on the Rise event not long ago). She pretty much echoes drinkboston’s first impressions of the place: it’s got some baggage to overcome, but its bright spots — including the cocktail list and the horseshoe-shaped, marble bar downstairs — make us root for the place.

» Congrats to these talented barmen and women — who work in some of drinkboston’s fave joints — for making the Improper Bostonian magazine’s long-running Boston’s Beloved Bartenders list: Trina Sturm of Trina’s Starlite Lounge, Scott Marshall of Drink, Corey Bunnewith of Coppa and Ned Greene of Hungry Mother.

» Dan Okrent, whose Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition was recently reviewed on drinkboston, will talk about his book at an open-to-the-public lecture at the Boston Athenaeum on May 27. So much material here for us history-minded imbibers — reserve your seat starting May 14. And by the way, yours truly will be serving a Prohibition-era cocktail at the post-lecture reception (which also features wine, beer and cheese from Capone Foods).

» Speaking of alcohol, history and lectures, I’m also attending Boston Beer: a History with Michael Reiskind at the Boston Public Library on May 12. Oh, and speaking of beer, don’t forget that the annual American Craft Beer Fest is coming up at the Seaport World Trade Center June 18-19.

dean-martin-highball» If you like to drive your car to Boston-area bars but don’t want to risk a DUI (or worse) on your way home, Boston’s Designated Driver is a good service to know about. I haven’t tried it out yet and would love to hear from anyone who has — leave a comment, will you?

» Hey, did you know that drinkboston and Trina’s Starlite Lounge are having a Highballs party on Sunday, May 9? Reserve your ticket at 617-576-0006 or info@trinastarlitelounge.com and come party like it’s 1965. See you there!

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Posted in Bartenders, Beer, Booze in the news, Boston bars, Nips | 10 Comments »

March 17th, 2010

They rose, we drank

bartenders-rise-prep

As we witnessed Sunday night, all that Boston imbibers need to lure them out of the house when it’s raining sideways is the promise of a well-made cocktail and a good party. I applaud our hardiness — not to mention the emerging bar talent that made the evening possible.

Green Street, the venue and co-host for Boston Bartenders on the Rise, made the savvy decision of removing all the tables and chairs from the dining room to accommodate the sell-out crowd. We were warmly welcomed with a beer cocktail by Green Street proprietor Dylan Black called De Stella Nova: Pretty Things Jack D’Or Belgian-style farmhouse ale, 2 dashes of orange bitters and a candied citrus star flavored with coriander.

bartenders-rise-stanley

We then moved on to the four original cocktails created for the occasion by our featured talent (recipes and creators listed below in serving order). I circled the place again and again to say hello to everyone while sneaking the occasional fried oyster, chicken rillette, grilled shrimp on a skewer, or juicy slider (thank you for the lovely apps, chef Greg Reeves!).

Many, many thanks to those who traveled both near and far to join in on some drinkboston-style fun. Thanks also to Sean Frederick for the photos and the entire smooth-operating Green Street staff. Let’s do it again soon!

bartenders-rise-mccoy

Loose Translation
Carrie Cole, Craigie on Main

1 1/4 oz Scorpion mezcal
3/4 oz Aperol
1/2 oz Mathilde XO orange cognac
1/2 oz pineapple syrup
1/2 oz lime juice
Pinch kosher salt
Dash Allspice Dram

Quick shake over ice, pour entire contents into a highball glass, and top with a splash of ginger ale. Drinkboston: We need something fruity on the menu. Carrie: I’m thinking of using mezcal. Result: a loose, tiki-inspired translation.

Peralta
Evan Harrison, Deep Ellum

1 1/2 oz Old Overholt rye
1/2 oz Cynar
1/2 oz green Chartreuse
1/2 oz fresh grapefruit juice
Dash grapefruit bitters, Deep Ellum orange bitters

Shake over ice and serve straight up with grapefruit peel garnish. Inspired by skateboarding legend Stacy Peralta.

Saving Daylight
Bob McCoy, Eastern Standard

2 oz Plymouth gin
1 oz McCoy’s homemade golden vermouth
1/4 oz St. Germain
1/8 oz Cointreau
Dash McCoy’s aromatic bitters

Stir over ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with orange peel. Sip as winter turns to spring.

William of Orange
Emily Stanley, Green Street

1 1/2 oz Bols genever
1/2 oz Benedictine
1/2 oz Punt E Mes
1/2 oz Aperol
Dash orange bitters

Stir over ice and serve down (i.e. strain into a rocks glass). Named for the English king who ushered in the era when Dutch genever became English gin.

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Posted in Bartenders, Beer, Boston bars, Cocktails, Events, Gin, Whiskey | 4 Comments »

March 1st, 2010

Event: Boston Bartenders on the Rise

bartender-with-fansJoin drinkboston and four of the Boston bar scene’s rising talents at a cocktail party at Green Street on Sunday, March 14. Boston Bartenders on the Rise will showcase some of the men and women around town who are making a name for themselves with a combination of drink-mixing prowess, hospitality and character.

Each bartender will mix a favorite cocktail and spend some time mingling with the crowd, talking cocktails, spirits, bartending and matters of similar importance. Bios and recipes below. Call Green Street today to make your reservation. Here’s the lowdown:

  • Green Street, Sunday, March 14, 7:00 p.m.
  • Four cocktails, plus a special welcome punch
  • Passed appetizers
  • Tickets: $40
  • Reservations strongly suggested. Call 617-876-1655.

Carrie Cole of Craigie on Main started working in Boston restaurants when she moved to the Hub from Portland, Oregon, to attend Boston University. She started as a bartender, moved to cooking, became a pastry chef, then returned to the bar. After a stint at Sibling Rivalry, she was scooped up by Craigie on Main, where she is now senior bartender. Her cocktail is the Loose Translation: Scorpion Mezcal, Aperol, Mathilde XO Orange Cognac, pineapple syrup, lime juice, Allspice Dram and Angostura orange bitters. Rocks, splash of ginger.

Evan Harrison of Deep Ellum hails from Sherman, Texas. While studying literature and philosophy at UMASS, he began learning classic cocktails and craft beer as principle bartender at the Independent in Somerville. Late last year, he crossed the river to join the staff at the cocktail/beer bar Deep Ellum in Allston. His cocktail is the Peralta: Old Overholt Rye, Cynar, green Chartreuse, fresh grapefruit juice. Straight up.

Bob McCoy of Eastern Standard grew up in Middleton and started cooking in his uncle’s Malden restaurant when he was in high school. In college, he spent summers tending bar on Block Island, then moved to the Wild Horse Cafe in Beverly. After six years there, Bob was “looking for another opportunity, one that would take my profession to another level, and found it at Eastern Standard.” His cocktail is the Saving Daylight: Plymouth Gin, homemade “golden” vermouth, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, Cointreau and homemade bitters. Straight up.

Emily Stanley of Green Street entered the industry as soon as she turned 18 and left her hometown of Westford to study briefly at Suffolk University. She worked at Fire and Ice, Bukowski Tavern in Cambridge, Deep Ellum and Trina’s Starlite Lounge before nabbing her current position as bar manager of Green Street. Along the way, she went to school for esthetics and to be a personal trainer. Her cocktail is the William of Orange: Bols Genever, Benedictine, Punt E Mes, Aperol, orange bitters. Straight up, orange oil.

Appetizers include tuna tartare on tostones, Swedish meatballs and house-made charcuterie among other delights. This is gonna be fun. I’ll publish the full recipes after the event. Hope to see you there!

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Posted in Bartenders, Cocktails, Events | 4 Comments »

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