Posts Tagged ‘john gertsen’

November 23rd, 2010

A splendid war

As my friend Senator John aptly tweeted during the grand finale of the year-long Cocktail Wars at Woodward Tavern in the Ames Hotel, “If you dropped a bomb on the Ames Hotel, we’d be drinking light beer and screwdrivers for months.”

Arguably Boston’s three best bartenders — Jackson Cannon of Eastern Standard and John Gertsen and Misty Kalkofen of Drink — competed against each other and Miami’s finest, John Lermayer, in a showdown that capped a series of drink-mixing battles between Boston bartenders (and sometimes their colleagues from other cities). And there to cheer the competitors on was seemingly every other bartender of note who wasn’t on the stick that night. Thankfully, no bombs were dropped. Except for this one: the guy from Miami won.

That’s right, John Lermayer, who tends bar at the Florida Room and consults for hotel bars around the world, bested his Beantown colleagues fair and square. I should know, because I was one of the judges. His winning cocktail, the Misty Morning Sour (see below), hit all the criteria admirably: quality, creativity, presentation and use of surprise ingredients — persimmon and Barenjager honey liqueur. Misty Kalkofen took second place for her mezcal-based Per Simon. In the quality department, all the cocktails got high marks on my ledger — particularly considering they were each created in an astonishing 20 minutes.

Here are some pics from the bash, plus the recipes that each of the four competitors came up with. What a pleasure it was to literally drink in their talents.

Misty Morning Sour
John Lermayer

Persimmon (a couple slices)
Strawberry (one or two)
1 1/2 oz Plymouth gin
3/4 oz Aperol
3/4 oz Barenjager
3/4 oz lemon juice
1/4 oz simple syrup
2 drops orange blossom water
Egg white

Muddle persimmon and strawberry in a mixing glass. Add remaining ingredients and dry-shake. Shake all again well over ice. Strain into cocktail glass with sliced strawberry and persimmon garnish. The name: inspired by how John imagined his fellow contestant, Misty, would feel the next morning.

Per Simon
Misty Kalkofen

Half a persimmon
2 oz Del Maguey Mezcal Vida
1/2 oz Plymouth sloe gin
1/2 oz Barenjager
1/2 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz agave nectar
1/2 oz Amontillado sherry
6 drops Bittermens grapefruit bitters
Nutmeg garnish

Muddle persimmon in a mixing glass. Add all other ingredients except nutmeg and shake well over ice. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with fresh grated nutmeg. The name: a play on one of the surprise ingredients and on the name of one of the judges, Simon Ford, international ambassador for Plymouth gin.

Once in a Blue Persim-moon
Jackson Cannon

Persimmon (couple slices)
1 1/2 oz Barenjager
1 oz Plymouth gin
1/2 oz lemon juice
1 egg white
Dash Peychaud’s bitters
Sparkling wine

Dry-shake first four ingredients and strain through a tea strainer. Dry-shake strained ingredients with egg white. Shake all again with ice. Strain into a champagne flute, top with Peychaud’s and sparkling wine. The name: inspired by the blue moon in the sky that evening.

Wasp Bite
John Gertsen

2 oz persimmon infused* Plymouth gin
1/2 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz Barenjager
1 tsp black pepper
Barenjager soaked persimmon skin “twist”

Muddle pepper in mixing glass. Add all ingredients except twist. Add ice, shake and double strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with the twist. The name: a play on Drink’s peppery Bee Sting, which is itself a play on the classic Bee’s Knees.

*The Plymouth Gin was infused using a quick infusion technique known as nitrogen cavitation. Gertsen used a 1 liter iSi profi whip canister, added 375 ml of Plymouth Gin and the pulp from 4 medium-sized persimmons, and charged the canister twice with nitrogen.

Except for top photo, all photos by Mark Andrew Deley of Crammed Media.

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Posted in Bartenders, Cocktails, Events, Liqueur | No Comments »

June 3rd, 2010

Nips – 6/3/10


The latest happenings in and thoughts on Boston’s world of drink… First, ‘bad guy’ cocktails. OK, two cocktails does not make a trend, but maybe more will follow from this post, and then we’ll have conveniently manufactured one. (I love social media!) What I’m getting at are Eastern Standard‘s Frobisher and the Starlite Lounge‘s Tony Montana.

I was delighted when Jackson Cannon, who, like me, is a devotée of the FX series Damages, told me he was naming a new cocktail on the menu after Arthur Frobisher, the Enron-inspired CEO played by Ted Danson. Frobisher stands out as a bad guy in a show populated almost entirely by bad guys (and girls — the protagonist is the ruthless high-stakes litigator Patty Hewes, played by Glenn Close). That’s because Danson has elevated playing an unmitigated tool to a high art form. Cannon celebrates that achievement with a stirred, straight-up mixture of 2 oz Oxley gin, 3/4 oz ES’ own rose vermouth, 1/4 oz Luxardo maraschino liqueur, orange oil and a Luxardo cherry.

Then there’s the Tony Montana, which Beau Sturm is known to serve while uttering its name in the Cuban accent with which Al Pacino menaces his way through the gangster training video Scarface. The recipe: 2 oz Pyrat rum, 3/4 oz Carpano Antica, 1 barspoon Benedictine and 1 dash orange bitters, stirred well and strained. The thing about these drinks is that they’re not just ridiculous concoctions slapped with a badass name to get people to drink them. The cocktails themselves are badass — all spirits, straight up, not to be trifled with. Never mind that both Frobisher’s and Montana’s substance of choice is powdery and white, not fiery and wet.

» Stoddard’s (48 Temple Place). My first impressions are pretty positive. The place looks beautiful, with its brick walls, massive, century-old bar imported from England, prints of old Boston, and local artifacts including old street lamps and corsets from an early incarnation of the Stoddard’s space (before its days as a cutlery shop of the same name). The lamb sausage sandwich and the steak frites over braised oxtail were really good, as was our bar service by Jamie Walsh. The Gin Sling and Stone Sour, both tall drinks over ice, were well made, but the Brandy Crusta was a bit watered down, and the Pegu Club was out-of-whack — too heavy on the Plymouth gin and without Angostura bitters to balance the orange flavors, as Stoddard’s house recipe strangely dictates.

We were fortunate to get a peek at the already infamous, not-yet-open private club downstairs. For a membership fee of $2,000, you get your own key and entrance (in the Winter Place alleyway right next to Locke-Ober) to this low-lit den, plus privileges to use the space for meetings and parties. Stoddard’s was taken to task several months before it opened when a rumor circulated that the club would be men-only. That’s not the case, although Stoddard’s seems to really, really want to skew its demo to recreate a late-19th-century gentlemen’s bar, albeit with TVs. The bar staff appears to be entirely male, and General Manager Billy Lyons said that while membership for the private club is building, only two women have bought in so far.

» If, the next time you go to Drink in Fort Point, you notice a lot more Europeans than usual, blame John Gertsen. He recently traveled to the 2010 Cocktails Spirits expo in Paris as the representative of an American cocktail bar. He gave a well-received presentation about his landmark bar, including a demo of the Chee Hoo Fizz, a cocktail invented by Randy Wong of the exotica orchestra Waitiki, which spearheaded Drink’s now famous summer Sunday tiki nights. While at the expo, Gertsen also encountered a bunch of rare spirits like Portuguese tequila from 1920 and a 1917 vipérine — booze flavored with a big, ol’ poisonous snake. Here’s a video of a good chunk of John’s presentation, and here’s another one of him and fellow Boston barman Scott Holliday (of Rendezvous) looking at the vipérine and other rare liquids with spirits collector George Dos Santos. (Thanks to Jörg Meyer of Le Lion Bar in Hamburg, Germany, for those videos.) Congrats, John!

» Citizen Public House & Oyster Bar. A new outpost of the growing Franklin South End/Franklin Southie empire, the Citizen will open on Boylston St. overlooking Fenway Park in July. Joy Richard, whom drinkboston has mentioned several times as a cocktail contest winner and founding member of LUPEC Boston, will oversee the bar as she does at the other two restaurants. Expect good cocktails, beer and wine but, most important of all, a whiskey bar! In fact, Joy and I happen to be heading to Kentucky next week to visit several distilleries along the Bourbon Trail, starting with Maker’s Mark and a tasting of its new whiskey, Maker’s 46. I’ll be sending regular communiqués via Twitter from that jaunt. Until then…

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Posted in Boston bars, Cocktails, Gin, Nips, Rum, Whiskey | 10 Comments »

May 8th, 2009

Moto Guzzi

John Gertsen (invented at No. 9 Park)

Equal parts:
Punt e Mes
Booker’s bourbon

Stir gently but thoroughly. Strain into pre-chilled rocks glass without too much fanfare.

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Posted in Cocktails, Recipes, Vermouth, Whiskey | 1 Comment »

May 8th, 2009

Foglie Noce

John Gertsen (invented for Roaring Twenties party at Boston Athenaeum)

2 1/2 oz applejack
1 oz Nocino (walnut liqueur)
2 dashes Fee Brother’s Whisky Barrel Aged Bitters

Stir with lump ice, strain into a chilled Old Fashioned glass and finish with oil of orange peel.

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Posted in Applejack, Bitters, Cocktails, Liqueur, Recipes | No Comments »

August 26th, 2008

Drink, Boston

Fort Point Channel

It’s funny. Back in March, I went to a cocktail class at Stir, chef Barbara Lynch’s teaching kitchen. Somebody asked our host, bartender John Gertsen, when Lynch’s new seaport-district bar was opening and what its name would be. I don’t know if Gertsen knew at the time what name had been chosen and was just being secretive, or if he just understands his boss really well, because he said something like, ‘Well, knowing Barbara, she’ll probably name it what it is,’ and threw in a reference to Occam’s Razor for good effect.

So I wasn’t surprised when I read this post on’s Dishing blog. Just as Lynch named No. 9 Park after its street address, the oyster bar she opened with her former business partner Garrett Harker B&G Oysters, her meat-and-charcuterie-lover’s bistro the Butcher Shop, and her teaching kitchen Stir, she has anointed her new bar Drink.

Whether you like the name or not, this “first installment of chef Barbara Lynch’s Fort Point project” is going to totally kick ass. Bet on it. Think vintage glassware and seltzer-water siphons, 1950s-inspired canapes and “rock star” bartenders (including Gertsen) — all with an attitude and in a workshop-like atmosphere that are decidedly non-precious. Mmmm, refreshing. They’re shooting for a debut of September 15. See you there.

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Posted in Boston bars | 9 Comments »

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