Archive for July, 2008

July 31st, 2008

I’m Puddling up

Is anyone else shedding tears of joy right now? Mud Puddle Books, which recently published reproductions of five out-of-print cocktail books from the late 1800s and early 1900s, has plans to publish David Embury’s Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, “one of the most literate and enjoyable books written about cocktails,” notes “A Cocktail Book Renaissance, Too,” in this week’s New York Times. Embury’s book has been known to pop up on eBay now and again, attracting bids in the hundreds, even thousands, of dollars. It is spoken of with reverence by anyone who takes the craft of bartending seriously. I’ve never even seen a copy. But soon, it seems, I will be able to buy one at a reasonable price.

Barflies & Cocktails bookMud Puddle’s first five re-prints (with introductions by modern experts such as Ted Haigh, Robert Hess and David Wondrich) are also worth a look. They are C. F. Lawlor’s The Mixicologist; Barflies and Cocktails, written in the 1920s by Harry McElhone of the famous Harry’s New York Bar in Paris; Harry Johnson’s Bartenders’ Manual and Guide for Hotels and Restaurants; O. H. Byron’s The Modern Bartender’s Guide; and Recipes of American and Other Iced Drinks, a British book published by Farrow & Jackson to promote its barware.

Posted in Books & resources | 11 Comments »

July 31st, 2008

Podcast on

A shout-out to Wade Tonkin and Karen Garcia of the West Coast culinary blog They are coming to Boston for a trade show in a couple of weeks and figured that the best way to get psyched up for the visit was to interview locals who know where to eat and drink. They tasked me with recommending bars near the Seaport Hotel and the World Trade Center, where the trade show’s taking place. A somewhat tough assignment, given that that neighborhood still has a ways to go before it can be described as bustling, but I did my best. I also got to recommend some great beer bars and the stellar Eastern Standard.

Posted in drinkboston in the news | 5 Comments »

July 29th, 2008

Of age

A valid ID?By Scott N. Howe

Like you, turning 21 was a big deal for me. It was big because I was finally an adult, and, as such, I could enjoy the most awesome right, privilege and responsibility available to an adult: I could walk into a proper bar and order a proper drink.

This is not to say that there was anything especially “adult” about me at age 21. Nor is it to say that the places I frequented were in any way proper, or that I was ordering proper drinks. Still, I had officially passed from the world of drinking warm cans of whatever in the woods to a wider world, a world where I could walk into the neighborhood watering hole with my head held high, grab a stool next to a 50-something plumber, and down a cold Busch while watching a ball game. Or, I could plop down in a shiny fern bar and sling back frozen mudslides with secretaries and salesmen (Note: I turned 21 in the 1980s. Substitute your own silly drinks.)

Did I always drink like an adult when I turned 21? Of course not. But I could, and that felt good.

And what felt most good was the “adultness” of it all. Drinking legally meant that I could go to bars and socialize with people my own age or older — not teenagers, not children. Drinking legally meant adult conversation on adult topics, accompanied by adult music. It also meant adult dating (with, one hoped, adult results). Drinking legally meant dropping into a bar after work, or in the middle of the day, or after a movie, or … well, whenever I felt like it and for whatever reason or no reason at all. Because I was an adult.

Which brings me to a major problem in the adult drinking world: children in bars. Argue all you want about the hypocrisy of the drinking age or our Puritanical mindset. Hit me, if you’d like, with your fond memories of pubs in the British Isles where generations upon generations gather ’round to sing the songs of olde. I’m not interested. What interests me is preserving our bars, lounges and cocktail conclaves for the people they were built for — the adult drinking public.

Mom and dad, if you want to go out and down a few, please hire a sitter. Don’t slam your stroller into my stool, elaborately set up a mini-day care center in a nearby booth, and then spend the rest of the evening pestering the barkeep for apple juice. And you, alterna-couple, if you’re going to bring little Jake or Lola into my local, show a little courtesy. Propping your spiky-haired, ironic-T-shirt clad offspring on the bar and plying him/her with Shirley Temples is fun for a while. But it gets old. Fast.

Look, like most of you, I love the pat-pat-pat of little feet and the cute cooing of the cunning and the cuddly. Kids are OK by me. In fact, I believe that children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way. Just keep them out of my bar.

Unless they’ve got a valid ID.

Posted in Misc. | 9 Comments »

July 25th, 2008

Tales – the reckoning, part 2

As I had hoped, Tales – the reckoning has generated some feedback, both positive and negative, both online and off. Some people have appreciated my honesty in pointing out some of the problems with this year’s event, and some have called the post too negative. This is my response to the latter group.

First, there is no doubt that Tales is a whopper of an event to plan, and it takes a ton of dedicated people, many of them volunteers, to pull it off. I never intended to diss those people — hell, I’m one of them. Playing my own small part as a volunteer, I gave a presentation about Tales at a Boston travel show this winter, spent time organizing my panel on media coverage for the bar and spirits industry (I even brought with me to New Orleans the bottles of Amer Picon required for one of my recipes), and helped promote Tales both through and the Tales Blog. All of what I wrote about Tales up to “the reckoning” has been positive. And it has been honest.

So it would have been dishonest of me, after the dozen or so posts I have written about Tales and New Orleans, not to report on the flaws that occurred this year. They could not be ignored. And just to make sure I wasn’t a lone, pissy voice in the blogosphere, I solicited comments in order to get multiple, honest takes on the matter from others who attended. I hope the comments keep coming. Because if you take the time to comment, it’s probably because, like me, you appreciate that Tales is the premier spirits event in the U.S., and you want it to keep being as awesome as it has been in the past.

Posted in New Orleans | 2 Comments »

July 24th, 2008

The Globe’s take on Tales

God bless Boston Globe correspondent Liza Weisstuch. She attended the events of Tales of the Cocktail with, of all things, a notebook, writing things down. Her short, sharp summaries of each day appear in today’s Globe article “Mixing it up with the best of them.” Not that I’m mentioned anywhere in the article. Nope, not at all.

Posted in drinkboston in the news, New Orleans | 1 Comment »