Archive for April, 2007

April 30th, 2007

Carpooling for barflies?

Robin Chase, the founder of the car-sharing company Zipcar, has launched a new transportation service called GoLoco. The Globe wrote about it last week. A sort of Facebook for carpoolers, GoLoco “fuses ride-sharing and social networking,” says the article. “The online service … brokers trips between friends, neighbors, and strangers, then automatically divvies up the cost, the seats in the car, and the carbon dioxide emissions.”

I’ve been a member of Zipcar for several years, and this GoLoco business sounds great — especially for bar-hoppers like me! How many times have I wanted, for instance, to get from a bar in east Somerville to one in Jamaica Plain and thought, ‘If only I could find two or three other people who wanted to do the same thing, I wouldn’t have to spend $35 taking a cab by myself across greater Boston!’

I’m guessing GoLoco isn’t exactly going to bill itself as a designated driver locator for tipplers — the scenario the Globe article uses to illustrate the service is an oh-so-clean-cut carpool to a contra-dance in Concord, MA — but isn’t it a great thought? Like, what if cabs got in on the network? A driver could pick up three or four people in the same neighborhood and take them to a general location they’ve all requested via cellphone or Blackberry. Traveling between Boston’s far-flung neighborhoods would suddenly be faster and much less expensive. Not to mention much safer than drinking and driving.

Posted in Misc. | No Comments »

April 25th, 2007

LUPEC toasts drinkin’ dames of cinema

Marlene DietrichLUPEC invaded my home last night — and it was good. The Boston chapter of Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails launched a few months ago and has already created cocktails for and otherwise helped promote several local benefits, like the Operation Frontline Dinner at Tremont 647 and the Taste of the South End. Every month, the Ladies get together for a cocktail party celebrating a theme of the hostess’ choosing. Last night’s theme was Drinkin’ Dames in Classic Cinema, and several attendees dressed for the occasion in polka-dot blouses, pillbox hats, fishnet stockings and Mary Jane pumps. I am proud to say that these discerning tipplers approved of the five dame-influenced cocktails I served.

Ginger Rogers

1 oz dry gin
1 oz dry vermouth
1 oz apricot brandy
4 dashes lemon juice

    Shake well over ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. The liquid equivalent of Ginger floating elegantly in a feathered gown.

    Barbara West

    2 oz dry gin
    1 oz dry sherry (Amontillado works well)
    1/2 oz lemon juice
    1 dash Angostura bitters

      Shake well over ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Lemon twist. Thanks to Ted Haigh for resurrecting this excellent aperitif cocktail. (Who the hell was Barbara West? No one knows. When serving this drink, make up your own story about her.)

      Roman Holiday

      1 1/2 oz vodka
      1/2 oz Punt e Mes
      1/2 oz sweet vermouth
      splash of fresh orange juice

        Shake well over ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Thin orange slice. Refreshing!

        Ann Sheridan

        1 1/2 oz Myers dark rum (recipe called for Bacardi dark rum; other recipes call for Bacardi light rum)
        1/2 oz orange curacao
        1/2 oz lime juice

          Shake well over ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass.

          Marlene Dietrich

          2 oz rye whiskey
          1/2 oz orange curacao
          2 dashes Angostura bitters

            Shake well over ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Lemon twist and flamed orange peel. (OK, I took liberties with the original recipe, which called for 3/4 wineglass (!) of rye and only two dashes of curacao. A lightly adulterated glass of rye was probably just right for Marlene, but I wanted a little more balance.)

            Posted in Cocktails, Gin, Rum, Vodka, Whiskey | 8 Comments »

            April 17th, 2007

            Mocktails for the sober and sick

            A sober friend said to me a while ago, ‘You should write something on mocktails.’ He was getting pretty tired of ordering O’Doul’s every time he went out and was looking for other options. I sympathized, filing his idea away in my brain’s to-do list. Well, that to-do list quickly became buried by other to-do lists filled with my usual booze-centric topics. Then, about a week ago, I developed the most hellacious cold; my doctor actually prescribed Vicodin to numb my cough. Ginger ale, tea and water are all I’ve been drinking, and I’m damn sick of it. That mocktail idea is back at the top of my list. My friend is right: those of us who are on the wagon, temporarily or permanently, should have more drink options. And I’m talking adult options (not sugary kid’s drinks like Shirley Temples) beyond NA beer, virgin Bloodys, or soda with lime.

            The Arnold Palmer, a classic quencher of half iced tea, half lemonade, is a simple, good drink that seems surprisingly under the radar. However, it is listed prominently on the drink menu at the All Star Sandwich Bar in Inman Square, Cambridge. Thai and Indian restaurants also offer interesting non-alcoholic beverages, like Thai iced tea (cold, spiced red tea with sugar and cream) and Lassi, a south Indian yogurt-based drink that can be sweet (and mixed with mango, etc.) or savory.

            Eastern Standard has one of the few cocktail menus around that feature a list of Mocktails — actual made-to-order mixed drinks, only without spirits ($5 each). They are:

            • Stormy Monday (a play on the Dark and Stormy): ginger beer with lime and bitters.
            • Abbey’s Punch (ES’s Papi’s Punch without the rum): Fresh lime, pineapple and orange juices, housemade grenadine, splash of Sprite.
            • Lemmy Tum Tum: Great for the tummy, ’cause it’s full of Peychaud’s bitters. “It’s basically fresh lemonade with tons of Peychaud’s, served as an up drink. Medicinal, tart and flavorful,” says bar manager Jackson Cannon.
            • Sophisticated Lady: Cucumber muddled with a sprinkle of salt, shaken over ice with cranberry juice, lime juice and simple syrup, then filtered and served over ice. This one’s Jackson’s fave, “a real cocktail. It just doesn’t have alcohol.”

            Finally, Jackson suggested a Mock Toddy for my froggy throat: pour boiling water over two lemons cut into eighths and dusted with cayenne pepper, and a spoonful or two of honey. Strain into a mug and drink.

            Got your own mocktail suggestion? Let me know.

            Posted in Mocktails | 10 Comments »

            April 10th, 2007

            Italian Greyhound

            Punt e MesMy friend Al Capone, proprietor of Capone Foods in Somerville (and the soon-to-open Capone Foods Cambridge on north Mass Ave.), is known to begin a night out with the classic aperitivo Punt e Mes and soda. Punt e Mes is an Italian vermouth called a “quinquina” because quinine, a bitter bark, is said to be among the many botanicals providing the wine’s color and flavor. At first sip, it has the rich, mellow sweetness you get with standard Italian vermouth, but then it reveals its own distinctive layers of flavor, finishing with that medicinal kick.

            “Its name (‘point and a half’) in the dialect of Turin, came from the day when an absent-minded stock exchange agent called out the trading floor term in old man Antonio Carpano’s bar, asking for a vermouth with a half-dose of bitters,” according to That day was in the late 1800s, so needless to say the recipe caught on.

            Now, in the early 21st century, with more and more people on the hunt for “forgotton” spirits, a lot more Boston bars are carrying Punt e Mes and other aperitifs like Lillet (Blanc and Rouge) and Dubonnet. Recently, I urged Al to switch up his usual Punt e Mes and soda, just once, for an Italian Greyhound: half fresh grapefruit juice and half Punt e Mes on the rocks in an Old Fashioned glass with a salted rim. (A standard Greyhound is vodka and grapefruit.) Wow, talk about layers of flavor — and in a drink that doesn’t bonk you over the head with alcoholic strength. No. 9 Park introduced me to this heavenly cocktail, but I have to credit Scott Holliday, the former bar manager of Chez Henri, with first making me aware of the Punt e Mes and grapefruit combo (minus the salt). I have to admit that I tried making it at home once with Tropicana Grapefruit Juice, but it just didn’t work. You gotta go with the fresh fruit.

            Oh, and check out the groovy Punt e Mes website. It’s mostly in Italian, but its tagline, written in a “Laugh In” font, says that “Punt e Mes is back,” and each page sports its own funky-lounge music clip and the mashup phrase “L’Appuntamento Yes.”

            Posted in Cocktails, Vermouth | 5 Comments »

            April 6th, 2007

            Drink your eggs on Easter

            Egg cracking machine“You hard boil your Easter eggs. We separate and shake ours.” — Misty Kalkofen

            Freaked out by cocktails with egg in them? Don’t know the difference between a fizz and a flip? Go to Green Street (280 Green St., Cambridge) on Easter night to confront your fears and educate yourself. Armed with a Boston shaker and several dozen raw eggs, bar manager Misty Kalkofen will offer up classics like the Clover Club, plus modern takes like the Pegu Club’s Earl Grey Mar-tea-ni and Alconomics cocktail guru Angus Winchester‘s Peanut Malt Flip (scotch, peanut butter, and egg yolk). Yeah, Misty thought that one sounded disgusting, too, until she tried one and discovered it was delish.

            For those who just can’t make the egg trip, there’ll be other, uh, Christian-themed, cocktails like the Cloister, the Saint Augustine and the Rusty Nail. “There might even be a special guest or two helping us shake things up,” says Misty.

            Bar’s open from 5:30 to 1:00. If you think you’ll be popping in to say hello, send Misty an email at “barmaven at gmail dot com” so she’ll be sure to have enough eggs on hand. And, she adds, “bring your patience! It takes a little extra time to make a good egg drink, but it’s definitely worth the wait.”

            Posted in Boston bars, Cocktails | 7 Comments »