Posts Tagged ‘Boston cocktails’

January 31st, 2009

All the young dudes & their drinks

Evan Harrison and the Nonantum

Something about the Boston bar scene really hit home for me recently: there’s a bunch of cute, young guys in this town creating spectacular drinks. Evan Harrison’s Nonantum, Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli’s Northern Lights and Casey Keenan’s Bohannon, to name a few. I’m besotted.

Take Harrison of the Independent — only a year or two out of college, and already he’s figured out how to use the herbal, day-glo-yellow Italian liqueur Strega (a.k.a. “witch”) in a cocktail. Check this out:


2 parts Old Overholt rye
1 part Punt e Mes
1 part Strega
1 dash each Angostura bitters and Regan’s orange bitters

Stir over ice until very cold and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

“It’s a pretty clear take off of the Green Point cocktail, just substituting Strega and bitters for the Yellow Chartreuse,” Harrison says.

“I came up with this in an attempt to find something to do with Strega apart from dust the bottle and answer questions about it. Strega is a cool little spirit with a cool history, but it’s too sweet to shoot or even sip on its own, and I’ve never seen it called for in any recipe. Surprisingly, it draws out the bitter orange flavors in the Punt e Mes while letting the rye do its work. And also to Strega’s credit, it gives the drink a cool, thick viscosity that kind of lingers in your mouth.”

Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. The upshot is that this drink is worthy of distinction among its many rye-liqueur-vermouth brethren, including Drink’s Fort Point.

OK, but the Nonantum? “The name comes from that village in Newton, where I was once stranded after a bizarre Catholic festival. I mistook the name for being Latin and thought it had something to do with their odd form of civic organization. I was wrong, but I still like the name.” As Harrison later learned, Nonantum is in fact a Native American word meaning, appropriately, “rejoicing.”

Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli at Craigie on Main

Schlesinger-Guidelli has barely cracked the quarter-century mark, but he already has some stellar cocktails to his name, notably the Jaguar and the new Northern Lights. The NL is one of those drinks where each layer of flavor shines on its own but contributes to a greater whole, like dance sequences in a great MGM musical.

The story behind the drink? “I took a week off between starting at Craigie and ending at Eastern Standard. I went down to Westport, MA, to work on the upcoming venture. One night of mixing with some of my best friends, this drink just came together. The late-night mixing and watching the stars, in cold New England … it reminded me of the vibrant Northern Lights.”

Northern Lights

1 ½ oz William Grant & Sons Scotch
¾ oz. St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
½ oz. Fresh lemon juice
¼ oz. Clear Creek Douglas Fir Eau De Vie
¼ oz. Fresh orange juice
¼ oz. Demerara syrup (1:1 demerara sugar and water)
2 dashes Bittermens ‘Elemakule Tiki Bitters

Shake very well over ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a lemon twist. Notes: Find demerara sugar (or sugar in the raw) at specialty stores like Christina’s in Inman Square. Also, S-G is pretty insistent on the brand of scotch: “I think the honeyed nature of Grant & Sons is really beautiful here.”

Casey Keenan

I admit I have yet to try Casey Keenan’s Bohannon, but it came to my attention via a trusted source. When he’s not playing drums for the Major Stars, Pants Yell! and other outfits, Keenan can be found at Deep Ellum. Recently, he took the Swedish Punsch that Ellum bar czar Max Toste made and created a cocktail with it that enamored Imbibe magazine enough to appear in the January/February issue. If you know Keenan and his love for 1960s and ’70s music, you’ll be amused but not surprised by the fact that he named the drink after disco producer Hamilton Bohannon.


2 oz gin
½ oz Green Chartreuse
½ oz Swedish Punsch
Pinch of fresh black pepper

Shake very well over cracked ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with black pepper.

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Posted in Bartenders, Cocktails, Liqueur, Whiskey | 8 Comments »

October 13th, 2008

The ‘Boston’ cocktail mystery

Boothby’s World Drinks & How to Mix ThemThere are a bunch of old cocktails with Boston in their name — Boston Cooler, Boston Sour, Boston Special — but, as I mentioned in a previous post about this matter, I have no intel on what makes a cocktail a Boston cocktail. I mean, it’s weird; there are other drinks named after cities, most notably the Manhattan, but also the Frisco, the Saratoga and the Toronto. These are singular cocktails, whereas Boston cocktails are numerous and without apparent rhyme or reason.

In a comment on that previous post, a reader named Mike said, “The ‘Boston’ refers to the use of rum and limes. Boston had a huge trade in molasses and rum with the Caribbean back in the day.” Sure, I know about the historic molasses/rum industry (largely concentrated in Medford), but I don’t see how rum and limes connote a Boston cocktail. I mean, a) tons of cocktails use rum and limes, and b) many Boston-named cocktails call for neither.

When it comes to questions about rum drinks, my go-to source is Old Mr. Medford (aka Brother Cleve), so I passed Mike’s comment by him. He scoured his old cocktail books and came up with a list of Boston-named cocktails, which I have included on the Boston cocktails – old page. This list confirms that drinks named after ol’ Beantown are all over the map.

“There are no stories attached to these recipes,” says Cleve. “The Sour and Sidecar are from a very early Old Mr. Boston book [1946], but Boothby’s [World Drinks And How To Mix Them (1934)] predates that. The Boston Cooler is listed in a number of books. I assume these were served at some popular restaurant or hotel here. Possibly S.S. Pierce had something to do with this?”

Hmmm. Anybody?

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Posted in Books & resources, Cocktails, Rum | 3 Comments »

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