Archive for July, 2006

July 17th, 2006

Misty Kalkofen

Misty KalkofenBartender Profile
One of the best things about bargoing in Boston is that your favorite bartender is less likely to be a struggling actor than an ivy league graduate student. Misty (yes, that’s the name her parents gave her) Kalkofen started tending bar while earning her master’s at the Harvard Divinity School. Her plan was to go for the PhD and teach, but student loans of Biblical proportions — and the prospect of professorial earnings too meager to pay them off — pushed her into pouring drinks full-time.

The thing is, she got to liking her new career. “I can’t imagine doing anything else,” she says while sipping an iced coffee with Patron XO Cafe (tequila with coffee essence) at B-Side, a bar where she used to work and still frequently hangs out. Before landing at Drink, she was bar manager at another beloved Cambridge bar, Green Street, which her friend Dylan Black (also a B-Side alum) opened in 2006. These establishments are cool but genuine hangouts that happen to serve consistently well-executed and interesting food and drink. Misty’s a perfect fit for both. Her non-showy mastery of mixing drinks, her comfort behind the bar, and her full-throated laugh make you forget about all the sullen waifs who’ve ever served you a glass of underchilled Ketel One and called it a martini.

Born in Mexico, Missouri. Grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Past bartending jobs
Lizard Lounge, West Side Lounge, Tremont 647.

First drink you ever had
I was always a “Can I have a sip” kind of kid… Probably don’t really remember the first one, but I would regularly sip from my father’s post-work blended Scotch on the rocks.

Favorite bar in Boston other than your own
Any bar where John Gertsen [currently of No. 9 Park] is behind the stick.

The drink you most like to make
The one that I’m going to drink!

The drink you least like to make
If there is a drink out there that is a version of a Long Island Iced Tea that has Blue Curacao and Pucker Schnapps in it, that is my least favorite drink.

What you drink at the end of your shift
Although there are nights when I’m craving something involving the use of a shaker, the truth is that after 10+ hours on the bar there is nothing finer than cracking open an ice cold Budweiser.

If I weren’t a bartender, I’d be…
Homeless… just kidding, but barely. Reading the New Testament in Greek, teaching young impressionable people to do the same, and barely scraping by in the process.

A bartender’s best friend is…
Competent co-workers and good regulars.

A bartender’s worst enemy is…
Bar rot. And that guy who said to me, “You know what I like about you, your boobs… and your ass ain’t half bad either.” (True story.)

People drink too much…

People don’t drink enough…
Gin, vermouth, bitters.

Drink for a hot summer day
Gin with lillet, mint, and lemon juice. YUM!

Drink for a cold winter night
Bourbon, rye, scotch… alone or in a toddy.

The best thing about drinking in Boston is…
There is now more than one bar you can go to and ask for (and receive) a well-made, well-balanced cocktail.

The worst thing about drinking in Boston is…
The bars close early and the T stops running even earlier…

Posted in Bartenders | 8 Comments »

July 2nd, 2006

Bukowski Tavern, Cambridge – Best Boston bars

Bukowski Tavern, Cambridge

Established: 2003
Specialty: Beer
Prices: Moderate to high for beer, low for food
Atmosphere: Pierced and tattooed modern literature-loving ironists meet beer geeks in this multi-tap shrine to the late Beat poet and legendary boozehound Charles Bukowski.
See Best Boston bars – honorable mention for address and contact info.

Bukowski opened up in the Inman Square neighborhood of Cambridge to the delight of people who yearned for more than one choice of a neighborhood bar, that choice being the decent enough, non-cartoonish but small Irish pub the Druid. Bukowski took over the fairly spacious, dark, rectangular room once occupied by the Korean restaurant Jae’s. A large mural of Bukowski and his drunken jottings on one wall, red vinyl booths, glass doors that open onto the sidewalk in summer, and a nice, long bar with round swivel stools invite you to stop in whenever you’re hit with the urge to eat a cheeseburger and drink a double IPA.

The tavern features 130 beers (15 on draught), very few of which are mere menu dressing. And there’s always some interesting item on tap or in the cooler, be it a Belgian-influenced ale from some little boutique brewery like Hair of the Dog in Portland, OR, or the surplus of Lion Stout that one manager shrewdly stockpiled just after the ’04 tsunami temporarily shut down the Sri Lankan brewery that makes the beer.

Brisk beer turnover is also aided by the fact that most of the tavern’s selection appears on the Dead Author’s Club card — a list of over 100 beers that you have to work your way through in six months in order to earn a 25-ounce mug (priced the same as a pint) etched with the name of your favorite dead author, provided he or she doesn’t already appear on someone else’s mug. (Note: the term “author” is treated loosely here, as mugs etched with the names Johnny Cash and Tupac attest.) And if you’re stumped by the sheer number of beers available, ask your server to spin the “dial-a-beer” wheel for you. Just remember: you spin it, you own it.

The food here is casual, reasonably priced and consistently decent. Burgers and hotdogs (big, all-beef ones with chili or sauerkraut) rule the day, but vegetarian offerings are worth ordering, especially the White Trash Cheese Dip, a warm, gooey mixture of American cheese, jalapenos, onions and tomatoes served with fresh-fried tortilla chips.

The only drawback to the Cambridge Bukowski and its older sibling in Boston is that when it comes to beer, the good stuff ain’t cheap. Draft pints range from $5-$7, and bottles can cost, say, $7 for a standard import like Paulaner Hefe-Weizen, all the way up to $15 and beyond for specialty Belgian ales and rare, small-batch American craft beers. A can of Schlitz or Schaefer is a somewhat more economical $3. Commercial rent prices in Boston and Cambridge must be steep indeed.

Posted in Beer, Boston bars | 5 Comments »