Archive for the ‘Books & resources’ Category

May 2nd, 2014

Crafty Bastards trailer

Crafty Bastards: Beer in New England from the Mayflower to Modern Day from Audissey Media on Vimeo.

Huh? Yeah, they make trailers for books, it turns out. Here’s the one for my book, Crafty Bastards: Beer in New England from the Mayflower to Modern Day. (Don’t worry, it’s wicked short — and really well done.) It was filmed at the Cambridge Brewing Co.

Speaking of the Cambridge Brewing Co., it’s having its 25th anniversary this weekend, starting tonight and lasting through tomorrow night. There will be 25 beers on tap (including many from brewmaster Will Meyers’ barrel cellar), live music and a homebrewing contest. One of the featured beers is Cambridge Imperial Amber, which CBC alumni (including me) were invited to help brew. Yeah, that’s me in the photo mashing in. I’m heading to the brewpub to try some as soon as I publish this post.


Me mashing in at the Cambridge Brewing Co.

Crafty Bastards officially came out yesterday and is now for sale in stores and online. If you like to shop local and independent, you can find Crafty Bastards at the Harvard Book Store and Porter Square Books in Cambridge, the Boston Shaker in Somerville and Sault in the South End. It will also be available around New England at bookstores large and small, and independent shops like A&G Homebrew Supply of Portsmouth, NH and Vermont Spirits Distilling Co. in Hartford, VT. Various New England breweries are also ordering the book to sell in their taprooms, which is a very appealing purchase option. Finally, you can order copies directly from the Union Park Press website (check out their other titles, especially Drinking Boston, while you’re at it) and on Amazon.

For updates and other fun stuff, check out my sweet new author website by Noah Kuhn of PilotMade. It has a calendar of parties, media appearances and signings in case you want to track me down at one of those. And if we run into each other and you happen to have my book on hand, I will gladly sign it.


Posted in Beer, Books & resources | No Comments »

February 26th, 2014

What’s up, crafty bastards?

Crafty Bastards coverOh, hey. This old watering hole has been boarded up for a while. You may have passed by from time to time and wondered, ‘When’s someone going to do something with that place?’

I never could part with the liquor license, so to speak. And it’s a good thing, because I left a few half-empty bottles lying around, and I could use a drink. See, I had an adventure in Los Angeles. Then I drove back to Massachusetts with my Grammy Clark’s American Tourister Bag. Then I got the opportunity to write a book about beer history. Now I’m done, and the book’s coming out at the end of April. It’s called Crafty Bastards: Beer in New England from the Mayflower to Modern Day, and the fine team at Union Park Press is putting it out.

The story starts literally from the day the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth (because they ran out of beer) and ends right about now, in the midst of the current craft beer boom. In between are the Puritans, the American Revolution, rum, cider, the Industrial Era, ale versus lager, saloons, Prohibition, Haffenreffer and ’Gansett and all their brethren, trailblazing homebrewers, David Geary and Jim Koch and the other early New England microbrewers, beer bars, BeerAdvocate, and a few resurrections.

There will be many fun and beery book release parties. I’ll keep you posted here and/or at my forthcoming “Hi, I’m an author” website. (Stay tuned.) Or you can follow me on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

As for this blog … I’m honestly not sure what sort of shenanigans I’ll revive here. So much has happened in Greater Boston Imbibing since July 2011. I’m just starting to catch up! See you out and about.

Posted in Beer, Books & resources | 7 Comments »

January 6th, 2011

Boston barkeeps organize

Don’t get the wrong idea from this vintage photo in the Boston Public Library’s print & photograph collection: women are well represented behind Beantown bars, and they and their male counterparts are getting organized.

First, our city’s own chapter of the U.S. Bartenders Guild will soon be official. Corey Bunnewith of Citizen Pub, Kirsten Amman of LUPEC Boston, Alex Homans of Russell House Tavern and Rob Hoover of Upstairs on the Square are helming this effort, which right now involves finding at least 40 members with $100 for annual dues to sign on. Meanwhile, April Wachtel, bar manager of the solid new South End restaurant & bar The Gallows, has started a less formal, local (and, for now, free) concern called the Boston Bartenders Collaborative.

I never knew the USBG existed before the craft cocktail movement got going. It was founded way back in 1948, and it’s affiliated with the 50-country International Bartenders Association, itself established in 1951. USBG sponsors seem to include every spirits conglomerate known to man — Pernod Ricard, Bacardi Ltd., William Grant, etc. — as Jonathan “Cocktail Guru” Pogash indicates in his summary of a recent field trip to Boston to help spark the USBG chapter here. Bunnewith says that although these companies obviously aim to promote their brands by sponsoring Guild events, they impose no restrictions on the use of spirits from lesser-known producers.

The four USBG-Boston officers mentioned above hosted a Pernod Ricard-sponsored meet & greet just before Christmas at Russell House Tavern to drum up interest, and several bartenders and others related to the industry (including this blogger) turned out. Lucky for me and a few others around town: we get our first year’s dues waived for having successfully completed the BarSmarts program. (The USBG has different membership categories, one of which is for people who aren’t actually bartenders.)

Why should you join? One reason is career advancement. “As the Guild gains a reputation in Boston, employers will recognize that members are knowledgable and passionate about alcoholic beverages and the operations of a bar,” says Bunnewith. The USBG also has an accreditation program that is recognized worldwide, in case you decide to pack your bar tools and move to Bratislava. Other perks include product-education classes, events, the occasional field trip and invitations to participate in cocktail competitions (i.e. create cocktails for liquor companies for free as you vie to win a cool trip). In earnest, the chance to network, taste product, and go to fun events with others who take the profession seriously seem to me like excellent reasons to get involved.

Those are the same reasons people in the local biz should take a look at the Boston Bartenders Collaborative. Wachtel envisions a symbiotic relationship between USBG-Boston and her grass-roots enterprise, which is focused on education and so far has about 15 volunteer participants. Most meetings take place in one of the members’ bars during a weekday. The next one, at Craigie on Main January 10, will feature John Mayer of Craigie and Tyler Wang of Drink talking about ice and dilution in cocktails. Other topics in the works include an interactive roundtable about cocktail formulas and discussions on speed and volume, guest relations and managing inventory. (See info about participating below.)

“There’s a good part of our community that wants to learn in ways beyond just informal visits to other bars. This is a chance to build something that has never existed in Boston,” says Wachtel, adding that the Collaborative aims to “have fun and not take ourselves too seriously.”

Sure, some people might chuckle at the notion of bartenders getting together to talk about ice and inventory, but think about it: Boston barkeeps are elevating their profession and trying to create a solid talent pool in this town. I, for one, am wicked psyched about that.

For information about joining USBG-Boston, go to the group’s Facebook page or email

Most Boston Bartenders Collaborative seminars are members-only, but select seminars will be open to the general public. To receive notifications about seminars, or for more information, email April Wachtel at

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Posted in Bartenders, Books & resources | 2 Comments »

December 25th, 2010

Noel Nips

Imbibers, I hope you got that rare rye whiskey, vintage ice shaver or custom-sculpted muddler you wanted for Christmas. I got the recipe for Silent Night Punch from my friend Pink Lady of LUPEC Boston and warmed the cheeks of my loved ones in New Hampshire with it. Fa la la la la. La la la la. If you find yourself reaching deep into the toe of your Christmas stocking for that one last knick-knack you may have missed, Bad Santa has got you covered. May the following virtual goodies souse up your Christmas night:

Drinkboston mobile. Got an iPhone, Android, Blackberry or some other kind of smart phone? You can now use it to check out drinkboston without having to wait for the full site to load, ’cause I got a sweet new mobile version! You can save an icon on your homescreen, and sharing posts via Facebook, Twitter, etc is a breeze. Bars, bartenders and imbibing in Beantown just got a whole lot more excellent.

Vermouth 101. “The intent of these pages is to demystify vermouth, primarily for the American audience.” From Martin Doudoroff, one half of the team that made every cocktailero’s life easier with CocktailDB, comes a much-needed primer on this misunderstood cocktail staple. (Supporting roles played by Eric Seed, Romée de Gorianoff and Alexandre Vingtier.) Thank you, gentlemen, from the bottom of our livers.

Tiki+ app. The CocktailDB team also presents, in partnership with Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, the newly updated Tiki+ app. One hundred and fifty top-notch, vintage and contemporary tiki recipes, plus pretty pictures, for $3.99. Don’t be a suffering bastard — download yours today!

2010 Devil’s Dining Awards. MC Slim JB distills the best, worst and otherwise most memorable items from the year in dining (and drinking) into this wickedly smart, funny list. In my book, Slim is the best food writer in Boston.

Now… what are you doing New Year’s Eve?

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Posted in Books & resources, Nips, Vermouth | 5 Comments »

December 3rd, 2010

Nips – 12/3/10

I think the sign says it all. What with the holiday season upon us, I’ve been hoarding a recycled shopping bag full of nips for you, so let’s get cracking.

» Repeal Day Ball. Well, it seems I have truly arrived. I am part of a Boston contingent being whisked down to Washington D.C. this Saturday for the third annual Repeal Day Ball at the Maison Biltmore, courtesy of the D.C. Craft Bartenders Guild and Macchu Pisco. This shindig started amid the hoopla over the 75th anniversary of Repeal in 2008 (which Eastern Standard celebrated in great style right here in Boston) and quickly became one of the Capitol’s great parties. Jeffrey Morgenthaler (aka the Morgenblogger) of Portland, Oregon, MCs the affair, which features themed rooms manned by renowned innkeepers from the D.C. area and elsewhere. Sure, there’ll be punch and Prohibition-era cocktails, but, frankly, I’m making a beeline for the 1980s room starring Dale “King Cocktail” DeGroff. Line up the Woo Woos, baby!

» Book of punch. Speaking of punch, David Wondrich was in town last month to promote his new book, Punch: The Delights and Dangers of the Flowing Bowl, at Drink. Delights and dangers were both in abundance, with nary a cocktail shaker in sight — just the gentle ladling of spirits, citrus, spice and sugar into little cups, over and over again. Oh my, that was fun. Read C. Fernsebner’s and B.C. Burroughs’ terrific interview with Wondrich in the Bostonist, with a longer version available on their blog, Dudekicker.

» High West. Also in town recently was David Perkins of the High West Distillery in Park City, Utah. A former biochemist who is part laconic scientist, part droll cowboy, Perkins hosted a tasting of his exotic whiskies at Trina’s Starlite Lounge in late October. We tasted his Silver Western Oat Whiskey, an unaged whiskey made with 85 percent oats and 15 percent barley malt; Rendezvous Rye, a blend of straight rye whiskies (including a 16-year-old Fleischmann’s — paging Man Men!); and Bourye, “the world’s only bourbon and rye marriage.” These whiskies are popping up in a few Boston bars — they’re very much boutique offerings, with the price tag to match, but well worth a sip when you find them.

» Nolet’s gin. I was introduced to Nolet’s Silver gin recently at a cocktail dinner at Eastern Standard. Intriguing. This is one of those newfangled gins, albeit produced by the very old Nolet’s distillery in Schiedam, Holland — best known in the U.S. for Ketel One vodka — where generations of the same family have been producing spirits since 1691. Its primary botanicals are Turkish rose, white peach and raspberry. If that trio makes you envision a cross between Hendrick’s and Stoli Raz, stop yourself right there. The stuff is quite dry, as brightly aromatic and balanced as a really expensive perfume, and verrrrry smoooooth. In fact, one of our cocktails was simply Nolet’s Silver in a heavy rocks glass over one very large ice cube. Quite nice, especially considering the stuff is 95.2 proof. This is an exclusive spirit, launching in only six states and costing $50 per bottle. We were also treated to a dram of the even rarer Nolet’s Reserve, a lightly aged gin whose pale straw color comes from saffron (or should I spell that $affron?) and which is also flavored with verbena. It was ethereal — which it would need to be at $800 per bottle. Allemachtig!

» Banged-up bartenders. What a coincidence. The night before Robert Simonson’s NYT article on the injuries related to craft bartending came out, I was at a gathering of female bartenders who launched into a conversation about their job-induced aches and pains. (Coincidence #2: one of those women is quoted in the article.) One woman wakes up with pain in her wrist, another is plagued by a sore shoulder. One’s husband has to pry apart her clenched “shaker hands” as she sleeps. Another had the rest of us hold her wrist as she rotated it to reveal what felt like loose ball bearings. The main culprit was the constant, vigorous use of shakers, often with larger, denser ice than the norm, that is pretty much mandatory in craft cocktail mixing. Other culprits were similar to those mentioned in the article:

“Bartending has never been an easy job. But in the past, tired feet, an aching back and possibly a bent ear or two were the standard complaints. Today’s nonstop bar-side ballets have caused the pains to creep northward to the wrist, elbow and shoulder.

“Most professionals deal in some repetitive motion or other; bartenders contend with several. They tilt heavy bottles into a shaker each night; they smack ice with the bowl of a bar spoon to get the size and shape just right; they unleash the suction of a shaker with the palm of their hand, jolting their wrist again and again.”

Sheesh. Does anybody predict that punch is about to get a whole lot more popular?

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Posted in Books & resources, D.C., Gin, Nips, Punch, Whiskey | No Comments »

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