Archive for November, 2007

November 15th, 2007

Watch me mix a drink on NECN

Chet Curtis of NECNThe drawback to publishing a blog on bars, bartenders and imbibing is that I’m sometimes too busy going to bars, hanging out with bartenders and imbibing to sit down and write. It has already been quite a week. Let’s see, Saturday was Green Street, where I sampled a savory Hearst made with Carpano Antica, a rich, aged cousin of Punt e Mes. Sunday night was the B-Side Lounge, where I indulged in Edisonians (and learned that hardly anyone orders these non-Combustible mixtures of brandy, lemon juice and Campari. Wha?! Too ‘mid-1990s’ maybe? Time for an Edisonian revival!). Monday night was supposed to be a quick, quiet little outing at the Independent but ended up being a marathon of Chimay Trappist ale after we ran into some friends. Tuesday was Redbones’ Northwest Brewers Dinner. And Wednesday was the Electric Six and Schlitz tallboys at the Middle East. Tonight I sleep, for the biggest night of this crazy week comes tomorrow, when I’ll have a cocktail with Mr. Chet Curtis.

The Chet Curtis Report airs on NECN (New England Cable News) at 8:00 p.m. At some point during the show, I’ll be mixing up a vintage cocktail and chatting with Chet as a representative of the Boston chapter of LUPEC (Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails) — you know, the ones who threw the LUPEC Boston Tea Party to benefit Jane Doe, Inc. Of course, I’ll mention, too. I fully expect that at 8:00 p.m. on a Friday night, you’ll be where you’re supposed to be: at a bar. That’s why I’m telling you about this now, so you can Tivo the show and watch it Saturday morning (OK, afternoon). I don’t know yet whether the segment will be available online. If it is, I’ll link to it in a later post.

Posted in drinkboston in the news | No Comments »

November 8th, 2007

Beantown Sippin’ Safari at Pho Republique 11/18

In case you missed it, Christine Liu of the Weekly Dig penned a neat profile of Brother Cleve last week. She aptly observes, “You’d be hard-pressed to deny the influence on the nightlife scene by this music obsessive and cocktail connoisseur.” And for the benefit of rum connoisseurs everywhere, she prints the recipe for Cleve’s tasty creation the Maharaja’s Revenge (see below. Also note that in the Dig’s photo, Cleve happens to be reading the Savoy Cocktail Book, which has been popping up in conversation lately).

Waitiki albumIn his latest marriage of exotic cocktails and exotica, Cleve joins with tiki drink historian Beach Bum Berry and the band Waitiki to host a full-on tiki fest at Pho Republique in the South End on Sunday, November 18. Admission is free, but you have to RSVP at sippinsafari “at” waitiki “dot” com. See Beach Bum’s slideshow of lost tiki artifacts, including once-upon-a-time tiki bars around Boston. And shake your lei to Waitiki‘s “Exotic Tiki Entertainment from Polynesia and Beyond.” Most important, find out what a real tiki cocktail — with fresh-squeezed juices and aged rums — tastes like. You’ll no longer dismiss these as syrupy “umbrella drinks.” Cash bar opens at 6:00 p.m. See ya there.

Maharaja’s Revenge

2 oz Old Monk rum
1 oz apricot brandy
3/4 oz fresh lime juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Note: Old Monk is an Indian rum with a unique, smoky flavor, so no substitutes. According to the Dig, you can find it at Martignetti’s in Brighton, Marty’s in Allston, Jerry’s in Union Sq, Libby’s in Central Sq and Liquor Land in Roxbury.

I can’t resist adding another rum cocktail that Cleve told me about recently. Here’s the recipe, in the words of the DJ himself.

Jet Pilot

1/4 oz honey*
1/4 oz passion fruit syrup
1/4 oz Lemon Hart 151 rum
1/2 oz lime juice
1/2 oz club soda
1/2 oz dark Puerto Rican rum**
3/4 oz Lemon Hart Demerara rum
3/4 oz dark Jamaican rum ***
1 dash Angostura bitters

Combine everything but the club soda into a shaker with crushed ice. Stir vigorously first to mix honey in, then shake and pour into an Old Fashioned tumbler with a lime shell on the bottom. Add club soda and stir gently. Garnish with speared maraschino cherry. Refill at 30,000 ft cruising altitude.

* honey can be heated first to soften.
** St. Croix Cruzan Dark can be substituted for Bacardi Dark
*** Appleton Extra is recommended

Posted in Cocktails, Events, Rum | 2 Comments »

November 4th, 2007

Three cheers for beer in the Hub

Boston is known as the Hub, and it is indeed a hub of many things. Higher education, of course. Sports, especially now. Also, as you know if you’re a regular at, Boston has lately emerged as a hub of cocktail culture. But well before the Red Sox and Patriots started winning championships, and before Beantowners rediscovered cocktails made with rye whiskey, brewers, tavern owners and beer enthusiasts made Boston into a hub of beer.

Will Meyers, CBCThe Boston Beer Co. (Sam Adams), established in 1984, was one of the first craft breweries in the country. The first brewpub east of the Mississippi opened in Boston in 1986 (the Commonwealth Brewing Co., now closed). And the city’s first multi-tap beer bar, the Sunset Grill & Tap, opened back in 1987. Today, there are eight breweries and brewpubs and seven multi-taps in greater Boston. Oh, and did I mention that, the world’s biggest online beer community (and now a print magazine), is based in Boston? All of this makes for a vibrant, nationally recognized beer scene that has spilled over into the city’s other, non-beer-oriented bars and restaurants. The number of establishments that make an effort to stock good craft beers (domestic and imported) is increasing, and the variety of beers available is huge. (See below.)

A sizable part of Boston’s reputation for good beer rests on the shoulders of Will Meyers, who has been brewing beer at the Cambridge Brewing Co. since 1993. (Disclosure: I was Will’s brewing assistant from 1997-1999.) With his basic, two-vessel brewhouse, he turns out many fine examples of the world’s major beer styles, including bitter, pale ale, IPA, porter, stout, barleywine, Scotch ale, bock and several different Belgian-style ales. He also taps a fresh cask-conditioned beer, dispensed through a traditional British beer engine, every Tuesday night.

In an exciting development this past year, Will cleared out a junk-filled section of the CBC’s basement and installed a cask cellar. He procured 20-odd oak barrels from whiskey distillers, California wineries and other brewers and filled them with all manner of strong, funky, Belgian-inspired ales fermented with odd yeast strains. As these specimens evolve and mellow out, Will dispenses them at the CBC’s bar, as well as brewers dinners and festivals — like BeerAdvocate’s latest Belgian Beer Fest. Making these types of beers well is a real challenge, so I was impressed by a glass of kriek — sour Belgian-style lambic fermented with real cherries — I had at the CBC recently. The beer was a natural rosy-red, with balanced sourness and cherry flavors and a fine carbonation. Really sophisticated stuff.

Another pillar of the Boston beer scene is Redbones BBQ, whose annual Northwest Fest is happening all month, with two special dinners November 13 and 14. Two dozen breweries in America’s microbrew mecca, Washington and Oregon, ship kegs to Somerville just for this event. There are some really kickass beers in the lineup, and Redbones serves them until the end of November or until the kegs run dry, whichever comes first.

This is a top-of-my-head list of places that make and/or serve good beer in the Boston area. Did I miss any? Let me know.

Boston Beer Co.
Harpoon Brewery

Boston Beer Works (2 locations)
Cambridge Brewing Co.
John Harvard’s
Rock Bottom
Watch City Brewing Co. (Waltham)

Bukowski Tavern (Boston & Cambridge)
Cambridge Common
Deep Ellum
The Public House
Redbones BBQ
Sunset Grill & Tap

Other restaurants and bars with good beer selections
The Blue Room
Charlie’s Kitchen
Eastern Standard
Green Street
The Independent
Jacob Wirth
No. 9 Park
The Other Side Cafe

Posted in Beer | 5 Comments »

November 2nd, 2007

Project Savoy, Operation 1919 get press

Ellestad's project SavoyErik Ellestad, who hosts the Spirits & Cocktails forum on, recently sent me a link to the second in a series of profiles he’s doing on San Francisco bartenders. He was partly inspired by’s bartender profiles, but his profiles differ from the ones found here in their connection to a particular quest. Erik explains:

“Yes, I am making ALL the cocktails from the Savoy Cocktail Book in alphabetical order. I am currently on ‘D’. When I can get it together enough to work with a local bartender, I give them a choice of something like the next dozen cocktails and we taste a couple of them together. So far it has been pretty cool.”

I’ll say. His latest profilee, Josey Packard of the Alembic Bar, mixed up the Diki-Diki and the Devonia, in addition to offering a few other cocktail and biographical tidbits. Check it out. Apparently, Josey has ties to Boston, because she says she created the signature cocktail for the Boston Athenaeum‘s 200th anniversary in 2006. I’m intrigued, since I’ve been involved, along with Misty Kalkofen of Green Street, in creating a cocktail for the Athenaeum’s Roaring Twenties party later this month. (Sorry, but the party’s only for Athenaeum members.) Josey, I don’t know you, but if you come across this post, email me!

Erik’s Savoy project is the framework for “Resurrecting Spirits,” a recent San Francisco Chronicle article about lost cocktail ingredients like absinthe, pimento dram, falernum and Batavia Arrack. The article’s author is Camper English of Alcademics. I’d like to send a heartfelt thanks to Camper for mentioning in his article my post, Operation 1919, about reviving lost cocktail ingredients in the Boston area.

Posted in Books & resources, drinkboston in the news, San Francisco | 2 Comments »

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