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May 21st, 2009

Brunch bartender battle

burtons-grillStaying in town this weekend? Then stop by Burton’s Grill on Boylston St. Saturday between 11:00 and 3:00 for the first annual B4 (Boston’s Best Brunch Bartender) Challenge. The event, whose proceeds will go to I Hate Cancer, pits nine bartenders from nine different Boston neighborhoods against each other in a mix-off. The winner gets to showcase his or her cocktail on Drink this! a new segment on NECN’s TV Diner, whose co-host, Jennie Johnson, will emcee the B4 Challenge. The thing I like about all this, besides the good cause it’s benefiting, is that I will be one of the judges. Sweet.

You don’t need to buy tickets or make a reservation, just show up, order a drink and a plate of eggs, and enjoy the festivities. The sponsor of B4 is Absolut Mango vodka, which means that all of the competing cocktails will contain this spirit. I know what many of you are thinking. ‘Flavored vodka? Lame.’ But I like the idea of bartenders starting with any prescribed cocktail ingredient and creating something interesting and tasty with it. Here are the contestants and their bars (good luck to all):

  • Michael Ahearn, Stella
  • Jackson Cannon, Eastern Standard
  • Janessa Davis, Boston Beer Garden
  • Mike Doyle, Harvard Gardens
  • Joe Kin, Florentine
  • Chris Little, Burton’s Grill
  • Matt Stricos, Stephanie’s on Newbury
  • Katrina Turner, Red Sky
  • Paul Westerkamp, 33 Restaurant

Hope to see you there!

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Posted in Bartenders, Boston bars, Brunch, Vodka | 9 Comments »

June 20th, 2006

Brunch Booze – Stork Club, Hemingway Daiquiri

It seems like Mimosas and Bloody Marys have been the only drinks available at brunch since about one million years B.C. That’s quite a rut. Even during a recent visit to the cocktail mecca the B-Side Lounge, these libations were all that our server could suggest as boozy accompaniment to our eggs and bacon. After downing a perfectly servicable Bloody, I asked for the cocktail menu. There had to be something different, but still brunch-y, there. Something with, let’s see, fresh-squeezed juice, but less sweet and more bracing than a Mimosa. A new item on the menu caught my eye: the Stork Club – dry gin, lime juice, orange juice, triple sec and Angostura bitters. Now that sounded liked the perfect brunch drink. I ordered one, took a sip. It was the perfect brunch drink! It had sunny citrus juices, plus a little extra orange flavor and sweetness from the triple sec. But the gin and bitters added a pleasant sting, like the flirtatious face-slaps in that old commercial for Skin Bracer aftershave. Unfortunately, most of the bleary-eyed brunch-goers at B-Side aren’t likely to have the acumen to examine a long list of cocktails and select an unknown, unproven one to start their afternoon. They need helpful suggestions from someone they trust, i.e. their bartender. That’s where a menu of new and interesting, but brunch-worthy, cocktails would come in handy. Let’s put the Stork Club at the top of that list.

If you want to see a menu of brunch cocktails that goes way beyond Bloodys and Mimosas, check out Eastern Standard‘s. They can take the credit for popularizing the Hemingway, or La Floridita, Daiquiri as a brunch drink in Boston. The thing that makes it a great brunch drink is that the bartenders serve the mixture of white rum, maraschino liqueur, lime juice and simple syrup over crushed ice, creating a refreshing, adult sno-cone. (If you’ve never had a Hemingway Daiquiri, note that it is hardly sweet at all, which makes sense when you learn that maraschino liqueur is the opposite of the liquid in the jar of cherries: clear and only semi-sweet.) Try this drink — you might find it more pleasant than sucking spiked tomato juice through a straw clogged with horseradish and peppercorns.

Posted in Boston bars, Brunch, Cocktails, Gin, Rum | No Comments »

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