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May 15th, 2011

Gracias, los cócteleros!

Muchas gracias to everyone who turned up at last Sunday’s Cócteles Latinos! party at Trina’s Starlite Lounge. The drinks, the food, the music and the vibe were all tops. It’s not every day that you can sip on a Mountain Dew Fizz (made with Beija Cachaca) while nibbling on Peruvian potato salad and pulled-pork tortillas, listening to X and the Reverend Horton Heat (thanks, DJ Dave Cagle), and basking in a complete takeover of the Starlite’s main bar. Thanks to Beau and Trina Sturm for hosting this shindig with drinkboston, and to guest bartenders Ben Sandrof and Misty Kalkofen for their dream-team antics. Below, enjoy the party photos and the recipes — just in time for your summer drinking needs — that Beau, Ben and Misty dreamed up for the occasion. Salud!

Green Street bartender George Theodore Jenich and Ben Sandrof

Chinaco Punch

2 oz Chinaco Plata tequila
3/4 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1/4 oz Luxardo Maraschino
1/2 oz lemon juice
1 1/2 oz watermelon juice
1 oz vinho verde

Combine all ingredients and serve in a rocks glass over a large ice cube or two. Scale up for a big punch bowl with a big chunk of ice in the middle.

Trina Sturm, Dave Cagle, Beau Sturm and Misty Kalkofen

Corn & Oil

1 1/2 oz. Brugal Anejo rum
3/4 oz Velvet Falernum
1/2 oz lime juice

Shake ingredients briefly over ice, then strain into glass with crushed ice. Top with several dashes Angostura bitters.

Phillip Naslund of Local 149 and friend Sarah

Magic Word

2 oz Chinaco Plata tequila
3/4 oz St Germain Elderflower Liqueur
1/2 oz Aperol
1/2 oz lemon juice
1 1/2 oz hard cider

Combine all ingredients and serve in a rocks glass over a large ice cube or two. Scale up for a big punch bowl with a big chunk of ice in the middle.

Lillian Milagros Carrasquillo, Jonathan O'Toole, Kim Boutwell and Sean Frederick

Mountain Dew Fizz

2 oz Beija Cachaca
1 1/2 oz Mountain Dew
1/2 oz lime juice
1/4 oz agave syrup
1 egg white

Dry shake all ingredients except Mountain Dew. Add ice and Mountain Dew and shake very well until egg white froths. Strain into highball glass.

Brother Cleve with Lauren Clark of drinkboston

Strawberry Rhubarb Pisco Sour

2 oz Macchu Pisco
1 egg white
1 oz fresh strawberry syrup*
1/2 oz simple syrup
1/2 oz lime juice
Rhubarb bitters

Dry shake all ingredients except rhubarb bitters. Add ice and shake very well until egg white froths. Strain into highball glass and top with rhubarb bitters. *Strawberry syrup: puree fresh strawberries and pass through a chinois. Mix liquid 1:1 with white sugar until sugar dissolves.

Los cocteleros: Noah and Elizabeth

Zocalo

2 oz Del Maguey Vida mezcal
1/2 oz dry vermouth
1/2 oz canela (cinnamon) simple syrup
2 dashes Angostura orange bitters
Lemon oil garnish

Combine first four ingredients in mixing glass filled with ice and stir very well. Strain into chilled martini or rocks glass and twist lemon peel over the top.

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Posted in Cocktails, Events, Pisco, Punch, Rum, Tequila | No Comments »

April 30th, 2011

Event – Cócteles Latinos!

On May 8, drinkboston and Trina’s Starlite Lounge are throwing a party, Cócteles Latinos!, featuring cocktails (see below) made with Latin American spirits: rum, tequila, mezcal, cachaca, pisco and perhaps the odd Mayan liqueur. Salud!

Besides Mother’s Day and the beginning of World Cocktail Week, we’re celebrating drinkboston’s 5th birthday. Boston’s First Couple of bartending, Beau and Trina Sturm, will be our hosts, and special guests Ben Sandrof and Misty Kalkofen will get behind the stick. Deep Ellum’s Dave Cagle will spin party tunes, and Starlite chef Suzi Maitland and her crew will put out the Latin American treats.

Cocktail menu will feature both old-school and new-school libations, TBD. Thanks a million to our sponsors: Brugal rum, Chinaco tequila, Del Maguey Vida mezcal and Macchu Pisco.

  • Cócteles Latinos! Hosted by drinkboston and Trina’s Starlite Lounge (3 Beacon St., Somerville)
  • Sunday, May 8 (yes, Mother’s Day — bring mom!)
  • 7:00 p.m. until last call
  • Tickets are $40 and include three cocktails and Latin American snax.
  • Call the Starlite at 617-576-0006 to purchase your ticket in advance, as there’s a good chance we’ll sell out quickly.

Put on your best Old Havana nightclub threads and come on by. See you there!

THE COCKTAILS
(Exact recipes will be published after the event.)

Zocalo
Del Maguey Vida Mezcal
Dry vermouth
Canela simple syrup
Angostura bitters
Lemon oil

Chinaco Punch
Chinaco Plata Tequila
Yellow Chartreuse
Luxardo Maraschino
Lemon juice
Watermelon juice
Vino verde

Magic Word
Chinaco Plata Tequila
St Germain
Aperol
Lemon juice
Hard cider

Corn & Oil
Brugal Anejo Rum
Velvet Falernum
Lime juice
Angostura bitters

Strawberry Rhubarb Pisco Sour
Macchu Pisco
Egg white
Lime juice
Fresh strawberry syrup
Rhubarb bitters

Mountain Dew Fizz
Cachaca
Mountain Dew
Lime juice
Agave syrup
Egg white

PLUS: Classic Mojitos & Green Grape Caipirinhas

Posted in Cocktails, Events, Pisco, Rum, Tequila | No Comments »

April 16th, 2011

I drank L.A. – again

Little did I know that, as I was ordering the last drinks of my L.A. trip at The Varnish last month, Liz Taylor rolled a seven. Had I been aware of her passing at Cedars-Sinai just a few miles away, I might’ve gulped down my expertly crafted cocktail and rushed over to the West Hollywood gay bar Taylor frequented in her final years. Alas, I was oblivious until I caught Headline News at the airport the next day.

I’m not one to worship celebrities, but I loved Elizabeth Taylor. She was captivatingly gorgeous, elegant, slutty and vulgar (that last word being one she used to describe herself). No movie star has ever been bigger, and she basically said, “I’m having fun with this, bitches. Pour me another drink.”

An admirer of that attitude, I knocked L.A. back with gusto, not unlike the first time around. Oh my, but has the bar scene changed in five years — cocktail joints are everywhere now, and they’re the place to be. So I went…

La Descarga, East Hollywood. This was recommended to me as THE hot cocktail bar in L.A. We managed to slide in early on a Saturday night after chatting with one of the valets outside who informed us that Katherine Heigl had been there the week before. Up a flight of stairs … into an antechamber where a hostess with a mini-dress and a Slavic accent opened the doors of a wardrobe (complete with empty hangers) … onto a wrought-iron catwalk with a spiral staircase … and behold: a two-story back bar full of rum. The place is a Bacardi-backed venture (with other rums and spirits invited into the mix) launched by the same team responsible for the brand-spanking-new Harvard & Stone (below). Bartenders in white shirts and black ties serve classic rum drinks (and the occasional Red Bull and vodka) to a fashionable crowd entertained by live Latin jazz and burlesque performers. Think: Old Havana nightclub meets warehouse party. This being L.A., the look of the place is all expert set design, from the cracked plaster to the random-seeming burnt-out light bulbs. Yep, the name of this bar means “the discharge.” I have no idea.

Caña, Downtown. Yes, another hot rum bar. Intriguingly located in the back of a parking garage, Caña occupies the space formerly known as The Doheny, a private cocktail club with a $2200 membership fee. Caña is also a private club, but membership only costs $20, and all you have to do is check into the place on Foursquare to waive that. I was lucky enough to visit Caña with L.A. Drinking Ambassadors Chuck Taggart and Wes Moore, who know every good bartender and tippling joint in the city. We had a couple rounds of finely crafted drinks from this menu. The Royal Oil, Misti Dawn Swizzle and Good Word were particularly outstanding.

The Varnish, Downtown. We really, really wanted to have a French Dip at Cole’s (est. 1908) before heading to the back of the restaurant and opening an unmarked door into the speakeasy that put L.A. on the craft-cocktail map. But the kitchen closed at 10:00 — jeez, Downtown L.A. rolls up the sidewalks early on a Tuesday! So we headed to The Gorbels (a cool restaurant by Top Chef winner Ilan Hall) for some bacon-wrapped matzo balls before closing out the evening at The Varnish with Chuck, Wes and Ron “LushAngeles” Dollet. Vintage tile floor, wood-paneled walls, a saloon piano player and a compact bar make this a place that you’d want to be your second living room. Oh, and the drinks ain’t bad either. This is where I got my whiskey fix with a shimmering Emerald (Red Breast Irish whiskey, Carpano Antica vermouth and orange bitters) and a tasty Talent Scout (bourbon, curacao, Angostura bitters) from Chris Bostick. Unfortunately, I missed seeing Woburn native Devon Tarby, one of the top broads of L.A.’s cocktail scene, behind the bar. Next time.

R&D bar at Harvard & Stone. Photo: Caroline on Crack

Harvard & Stone, East Hollywood. Another craft cocktail bar amid an Oscar-worthy interior designed to look like, as the L.A. Times put it, “a mix of industrial steampunk warehouse and a 1940s boiler room.” Also responsible for the rum-focused La Descarga (above), the team behind Harvard & Stone decided to skew domestic for its booze selection and minimalist for its cocktail menu. The night we were there, the smaller back bar, aka the R & D bar, was featuring Aviation gin from Portland, OR, and offering a list of about five not-too-complicated drinks. I appreciated that kind of limitation, as well as the casually hip staff and clientele.

Notable cocktails were also had at:

  • Comme Ça, West Hollywood. A Penicillin and a Doe-Eyed Doll (cognac, Aperol, lemon, straight-up).
  • Library Bar at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. The buzz about this place generally focuses on head bartender Matthew Biancaniello, but we got perfectly delicious libations from his colleague Chris Hewes, most notably a Mexican Rocket (tequila, agave syrup, lime and arugula shaken and served over a big rock). I was delighted to find out that Chris is the son of Jim Hewes, who has tended bar at Washington D.C.’s famous Round Robin bar (which I visited last spring) for many years.
  • Hungry Cat, Hollywood. I loved the Coney Island High: Applejack, rosemary caramel syrup, lemon, a few drops of absinthe, on the rocks.

In between cocktails, quality beer drinking occurred at the wonderfully retro Red Lion Tavern in Silver Lake — a German beer joint with an outdoor garden and a neighborhood vibe — Father’s Office in Santa Monica and the Venice Ale House on the beach. Finally, an early afternoon and an early morning were spent at the louche Kibitz Room in the famed Canter’s Deli.

Thanks, L.A. It was fun.

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Posted in Cocktails, L.A. | 3 Comments »

March 7th, 2011

Drink This! With Brother Cleve at Think Tank

Hey, cats and kittens, something very cool launches TONIGHT at Think Tank in Kendall Square: Drink This! With Brother Cleve, the godfather of the Boston cocktail world. Join drinkboston, Classic Mixology and the Boston Shaker at 8:00 p.m. for Lundi Gras cocktails as we kick off “a new event series that will put me back behind the bar for the first time since 2001,” says Cleve. Here’s his write-up about the series:

“I’ll be featuring a different set of classic cocktails and new libations of my own creation every Monday, plus selecting the musical soundtrack to pair it with. We’ll be featuring appetizer specials and drink/food pairings from the kitchen, and I’ll hold a little seminar to explain the history of the drinks and assorted cocktail lore. As many of you know, I’ve been studying this stuff for a long time, and we now live in amazing times for spirits drinkers, with so many formerly “lost” liquors, bitters, syrups etc available again for the first time in decades. When Combustible Edison first hit the road in ’94, in search of the “Cocktail Nation,” you were lucky if you could get a decent Martini anywhere. Now, great cocktails are ubiquitous around the globe!

“Our launch date, March 7, coincides with Carnival — Lundi Gras is the Monday before Mardi Gras in New Orleans, so in honor of the occasion we’ll hold a pre-Lenten bash with Cleve’s Ninth Ward cocktail (a “best of show” libation at Tales Of the Cocktail in 2008, now served in select bars around the country), the Ward Eight, Boston’s best known drink and the inspiration for the Ninth Ward, as well as the Sazerac, the venerable favorite that has been designated the Official Cocktail of the City of New Orleans. There will be a soundtrack of classic New Orleans R&B, funk and jazz for your imbibing pleasure.

Cleve brings his knowledge and passion for mixology to these weekly seminars, in which he’ll share classic as well as “lost” recipes from his vast bartending library (collected over the past 25 years) along with new concoctions of his own creation. Each week will showcase a different theme or spirit, and will also feature music and videos culled from Cleve’s personal collection. Special menu items from the kitchen will also be available, and certain evenings will highlight food/cocktail pairings.”

No cover, no reservations, just show up. See you there!

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Posted in Cocktails, Events, New Orleans | 7 Comments »

March 3rd, 2011

Todd Maul

Todd Maul, Boston bartender

Bartender profile
Much of the Boston fine-dining scene still neglects to put the kind of pizzazz into the bar that comes out of the kitchen. Todd Maul is changing that. With his tattooed forearms, Mercury-era NASA spectacles and tendency to recite from Embury’s The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, he doesn’t seem like the kind of guy you’d find behind the slab at one of the city’s more haute dining rooms — Ken Oringer’s Clio. But he has in fact put that little bar on the map as a destination for serious and inventive cocktails.

I first met Todd when he was honing his chops and trying to sneak vintage potions like the Lion’s Tail onto the drink menu at Rialto, in Cambridge’s Charles Hotel. When his efforts hit a wall, he moved to Clio, where he steadily gained creative license. Chef Oringer told him, “If you can think it up, and it tastes good, do it”– oh, and don’t be afraid to raid the kitchen. With that mandate, Maul does things like “use ice as a garnish.” For gin and tonics, he’ll deposit loomi — dried Middle Eastern black lime — into patterns he drills on square cubes (see above), or he’ll put a cylinder of violet-infused ice in a Todd Collins (Old Tom & Old Raj 110 gins, lemon, seltzer, Benedictine-soaked cuke) so that it slowly turns your drink bright blue while you sip. In the past couple of years, Clio has gone from a brief list of mostly vodka-based mixtures that blended into the background to a fun, 80-item menu (with retro font and graphics) of both faithful and fanciful interpretations of classic recipes. It’s like an album of Great American Songbook standards, some sung by Frank Sinatra and others sung by Bjork.

Maul’s other passion is furniture making; he studied the craft at the prestigious North Bennet Street School. He compares knowing various types of wood and how to build a table with them to knowing, for instance, different types of whiskey and how to build a cocktail with them. “Had I not gone [to North Bennett Street], I probably wouldn’t have paid attention to bartending the way I did. It’s a trade — you’ve got to work at it.”

Hometown
Kinderhook, NY.

Past bartending jobs
Rialto, Boston Park Plaza, Four Seasons.

First drink you ever had
Genessee beer. It’s an upstate New York thing.

Favorite bar in Boston other than your own
No. 9 Park. I have always liked what they do there.

The drink you most like to make
One for a regular.

The drink you least like to make
The first/last drink for someone that you know is going to be a problem.

What you drink at the end of your shift
PBR tallboy.

If you weren’t a bartender, you’d be…
A furniture maker. My shop misses me.

Most beloved bartending book
If you’ve ever sat at my bar you already know: David Embury’s Fine Art of Mixing Drinks.

The best thing about tending bar in a fine dining setting is…
The conversations (it’s a little more mellow, so you can actually hear the person across from you), and seeing the milestone events in people’s lives.

The worst thing about tending bar in a fine dining setting is…
People can be intimidated by what they perceive as the culture in these restaurants.

People drink too much ________
What I call “lifestyle beverages” — when someone orders marketing, not booze.

People don’t drink enough ________
Old Raj 110.

Unlikely drink for a cold winter night
Dr. Cocktail.

The best thing about drinking in Boston is…
I can get a drink from Joe McGuirk somewhere where they don’t mind if my kid throws something on the floor.

The worst thing about drinking in Boston is…
That you can get spoiled by the other people on this list, and realize that they only work in Boston. The standard they set doesn’t always travel.

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Posted in Bartenders, Cocktails | 10 Comments »

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