Posts Tagged ‘Todd Maul’

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.”

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 »

July 7th, 2010

Nips – 7/7/10


On a steamy summer Friday afternoon, who doesn’t dream of heading straight from the office to a magical oasis of exotica music and tropical drinks? Well, pinch yourself, ’cause this is no dream: Beginning July 9, Brother Cleve, Boston’s oracle of tiki, will host Freaky Tiki Fridays at the new Cambridge “bistro-theque” Think Tank (1 Kendall Sq., Bldg. 300) from 5:00-9:00 p.m.

At this week’s special kickoff event, says Cleve, “our old pal Mr. Ho will be bringing the condensed version of his Orchestrotica — we can’t really fit all 22 members of the full ensemble, so we’ll take the quartet — for a set of exotic sounds in the style of ’50s Hawaiiana like Martin Denny and Les Baxter.” [NOTE: Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica unfortunately won’t be appearing, but the tiki party’s still on!) Of course, when live music isn’t on the bill, Cleve will spin his own vast collection of tunes to sway your grass skirt to. Meanwhile, Think Tank owner Vincent Conte has sprinkled his cocktail menu with a few mixtures that hark back to his days as bar manager of the South End’s departed Pho Republique, and each Freaky Tiki Friday will feature a drink or two from Beachbum Berry’s terrific books, which put tiki drinks back on the map of legit drinking. Soak up the rum with Think Tank’s 5-for-$5 pan-Asian appetizers that will make you “feel like you’ve gone to the Kowloon, but without the indigestion,” says Cleve. See you there!

» Congrats to Todd Maul of Clio for being named best bartender in the Improper Bostonian’s annual Best of Boston list, out on newsstands now. Maul elevated the cocktail program to the level of the cuisine for which this restaurant is famed  — and he did it with a sense of humor, e.g. a list of tiki-inspired “drinks for two … 2 straws, 1 bowl.” While we’re on the subject of fine-dining bars, here’s a shout-out to Carrie Cole of Craigie on Main. She and her mixology crew have made the cocktail program established by Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli continue to kick ass. Check out this Public Radio Kitchen interview with her, and then go have a Bird Bath.

» If you’re fairly new to Massachusetts, you’ve probably had this rude awakening: you’re out for brunch at 11:03 a.m. on Sunday and order a Bloody Mary, only to be told you have to wait until noon. Thank god that foolishness is over. Last week, the state made it legal to buy a drink on Sunday morning. I mean, with Boston-area bars closing at 1:00 or 2:00 a.m., you’re plenty well rested to start drinking bright and early the next morning.

» There’s nothing like finding your niche. Local cocktail enthusiast and California native Devin Hahn blogs about a single cocktail — the Periodista — at the Periodista Tales. So far, his posts constitute one man’s entertaining and well-researched quest for why this rum-based drink, which means “journalist,” is something of a fixture in Boston while being unknown in virtually every other city he has visited.

» A few good reasons to stay out late on a school night this month: the Franklin Southie continues its Thursday Industry Night series on July 15 at 9:00 p.m. with a $6 cocktail menu featuring quality Luxardo spirits (e.g. Amaretto, Maraschino, Espresso, Fernet, Amaro Abano, Sambuca, Bitter, Sangue Morlacco, Triplum and Limoncello). And Emily Stanley, who traded in her bar towel for a new career as a brand ambassador for the malty Dutch gin Bols Genever, will host two events: a Bols Genever dinner at Aquitaine ($65) on July 19 featuring four cocktails by the talented Matt Coughlin, and a punch party at Highland Kitchen on the 26th starting at 10:00 and featuring $4-$6 punches and cocktails. See you there!

» Here’s something you might like: drinkboston’s Facebook fan page.

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Posted in Events, Nips | 9 Comments »

May 2nd, 2010

Nips – 5/2/10

clio-menuA friend of mine told me that an old flame put the moves on him recently after plying him with drinks. Acknowledging the futility of the attempt to rekindle, the old flame apologized for her brazenness. But she offered this excellent excuse: “It’s spring, and I’m a mammal.”

Well, it’s spring, and I’m a blogger. So here’s some link love…

» LUPEC Boston reviews Todd Maul’s new bar menu at Clio, which leaves all previous bar menus at Clio in the dust.  “The 80-plus drinks … run the gamut,” say the Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails, “from aperitifs ($9) to drinks for two ($25) to tiki drinks & daiquiris ($13), and feature a blend of pre-Prohibition and modern classics.” Many of the offerings are designed to pair nicely with the raw delights at Uni, the sushi bar adjacent to the Clio bar.

» Speaking of tiki drinks … doesn’t the balmy spring weather make you thirsty for the serious Donn Beach/Trader Vic-style versions of these rum-tastic cocktails? Sure, you can get them on demand at Drink, Eastern Standard and now, of course, Clio, among a smattering of other spots. But could somebody open up a REAL tiki bar in Boston, already? This city was once a tiki mecca, and, well, how ’bout sprucing up down-on-its-luck Downtown Crossing with a ridiculously fun bar? Silvertone and Stoddard’s (yes, it’s finally open!) can’t do it all by themselves. Sheesh.

» Speaking of LUPEC Boston and new joints, one of the Ladies, Jane Robertson (aka Pinky Gonzales), does an astute write-up of Harvard Square’s new Russell House Tavern for Joonbug (which reviewed drinkboston’s Bartenders on the Rise event not long ago). She pretty much echoes drinkboston’s first impressions of the place: it’s got some baggage to overcome, but its bright spots — including the cocktail list and the horseshoe-shaped, marble bar downstairs — make us root for the place.

» Congrats to these talented barmen and women — who work in some of drinkboston’s fave joints — for making the Improper Bostonian magazine’s long-running Boston’s Beloved Bartenders list: Trina Sturm of Trina’s Starlite Lounge, Scott Marshall of Drink, Corey Bunnewith of Coppa and Ned Greene of Hungry Mother.

» Dan Okrent, whose Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition was recently reviewed on drinkboston, will talk about his book at an open-to-the-public lecture at the Boston Athenaeum on May 27. So much material here for us history-minded imbibers — reserve your seat starting May 14. And by the way, yours truly will be serving a Prohibition-era cocktail at the post-lecture reception (which also features wine, beer and cheese from Capone Foods).

» Speaking of alcohol, history and lectures, I’m also attending Boston Beer: a History with Michael Reiskind at the Boston Public Library on May 12. Oh, and speaking of beer, don’t forget that the annual American Craft Beer Fest is coming up at the Seaport World Trade Center June 18-19.

dean-martin-highball» If you like to drive your car to Boston-area bars but don’t want to risk a DUI (or worse) on your way home, Boston’s Designated Driver is a good service to know about. I haven’t tried it out yet and would love to hear from anyone who has — leave a comment, will you?

» Hey, did you know that drinkboston and Trina’s Starlite Lounge are having a Highballs party on Sunday, May 9? Reserve your ticket at 617-576-0006 or and come party like it’s 1965. See you there!

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Posted in Bartenders, Beer, Booze in the news, Boston bars, Nips | 10 Comments »

November 14th, 2009

Nips – 11/14/09


Finally, last night, I met Seattle legend and internationally renowned bartender Murray Stenson. What a treat. As I’ve said here before, I’m one of many people nationwide who have encountered Murray’s hospitality from afar, by way of a surprise, complimentary drink delivered by a mutual bartending acquaintance. (I first heard about Murray from one of our city’s best bartenders, Scott Holliday, and was flattered to learn that Murray has been a drinkboston reader from early on.)

Acting as ambassador of the Murray Stenson Fan Club, New England Chapter, I presented him with a book on the history of Boston signed by several of our city’s bartenders — most of whom, like me, have only admired him from afar — plus a bottle of Chartreuse milk punch from the staff at Drink. Murray opened the punch right then and there and poured several shots for patrons at the bar. Then he mixed a few rounds of strong, elegant drinks — doling out some rare treats like the above — for me and my companions, West Coast drink writers Paul Clarke and Charles Munat. I’ll tell you more about Murray and my Seattle bar-hop in a later post.

johnny-bond-10-bottles» Save the date for drinkboston’s next event: Barstool Mountain Monday: Country Drinking Songs and Country Drinks, November 30 at the Independent in Union Square, Somerville. Think southern-style cocktails, shots of bourbon and Lone Star beer flowing to a soundtrack of classic country drinking songs spun by Brother “Taco Brim” Cleve. There’ll be well-known faves like “What’s Made Milwaukee Famous (Made a Loser Out of Me),” but also lesser-known gems like “Four on the Floor (and a Fifth Under the Seat),” and “She’s Acting Single (I’m Drinking Doubles).” More details to come soon.

» Also this month, swing by the bar at Clio between the 16th and 22nd, when bartender/mixologist Todd Maul celebrates the birthdays of David Embury and William “Cocktail” Boothby. Embury, born in 1886, is the author of the biblical Fine Art of Mixing Drinks. Boothby, born in 1862, was perhaps the best-known bartender just before Prohibition. He plied his trade most notably at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco and authored World’s Drinks And How To Mix Them and The American Bartender.

“We will be serving the Boothby Cocktail, the Casino and two creations from the Clio bartenders. For 10 bucks you get a drink and some rock shrimp,” says Todd, who provided the recipe for his homage to Embury and Boothby below.

Todd Cocktail

2 oz Rittenhouse 100 rye whiskey
1 oz Aperol
1 oz Dolin sweet vermouth
Dash Angostura bitters

Stir over ice, serve straight up.

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Posted in Bartenders, Cocktails, Events, Nips, Seattle | 3 Comments »

June 3rd, 2009

Nips – 6/3/09

Things to drink and places to go:

jack-dor I have happily been following Dann Paquette’s brewing career since about the mid-’90s, when he was at the Northeast Brewing Co. in Allston. Numerous brewing stints later, including a recent couple of years in Yorkshire, England, Dann started his latest venture: Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project. Look for Pretty Things beers in your local bar or packie, and drink them. They are really good. I’m partial to the American-style saison, Jack d’Or (left). It’s distinctive and delicious, yet versatile enough for everyday use.

Downtown Wine & Spirits in Davis Square, Somerville, has fairly recently expanded the “spirits” part of its name with hard-to-find bourbons, liqueurs, rums, etc. It also has the best combination website/blog of any liquor store in greater Boston. And they have regular tastings.

packard-wi-fi Scott opened the June Esquire, featuring the annual Best American Bars list, and asked me, “Which Boston bar do you think they picked?” “Drink,” I said. No brainer. (There’s also an RIP sidebar that bids farewell to the B-Side.) Speaking of Drink, on a recent visit I tried Josey Packard‘s homage to the Marconi Wireless, the WiFi: Bonded Laird’s Applejack, Lillet Blanc, Drambuie. Strong, complex, stunning.

maul-ramos-fizz Todd Maul has rather quietly been insinuating craft cocktails into the Boston fine-dining scene. He recently moved from Rialto in Cambridge to Clio in Boston, where he has livened up a cocktail menu based largely on vodka and sake infusions with classically inspired mixtures using gin, tequila, whiskey and rum. As you can see from the pic, he also makes a helluva Ramos Gin Fizz. Go check this guy out.

Finally, an observation and a question: remember when people who patronized bars and restaurants were called “customers?” In the last few years, in some establishments anyway, they have become “guests.” What’s the origin of the switch? I suppose it’s nicer to be considered a guest than merely one end of a cash deal, even though being someone’s guest has traditionally implied that you enjoy their hospitality without having to pay for it.

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Posted in Beer, Boston bars, Drinking supplies, Nips | 10 Comments »

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