Archive for October, 2008

October 30th, 2008

Vote Independent

Old campaign buttons

Let’s be serious for a minute. Once we vote on election day 2008, the only thing we can do is sit back and watch history happen. The grueling tension of this millennium’s first three presidential contests has made a lot of people understandably skittish about the outcome next week. But I’m beseeching you: this year, don’t stay home with your head under the bedcovers, or watching cable news while drinking gin straight out of the bottle. Cast your vote, take a deep breath, and commune with your fellow citizens at one of Boston’s best bars: the Independent.

The Indo and drinkboston are teaming up for an election night happening where you can watch the state-by-state returns on TV, eat a free snack and have a chance to win a $25 gift certificate by showing up wearing what is deemed the best political election garment or accessory. And we’re not just talking “Change we can believe in” or “Country first” T-shirts. We’re talking vintage buttons from the Kennedy-Johnson campaign … boater hats with red, white and blue ribbon … Eisenhower earrings.

Oh, yes, and the featured libation with which we’ll anoint this “Where were you when…” moment? The Ward Eight — and for only $5! I know I can’t shut up about this cocktail, but come on — not only was it invented for an election (110 years ago, to be exact), it’s Boston’s best-known drink. And it’s damn good when made properly (as the Indo’s bartenders do), with rye whiskey, fresh lemon juice and real pomegranate grenadine. Of course, you can also eat and drink as usual from the Indo’s regular food, cocktail, beer and wine menus.

It all starts on Tuesday, November 4 around 5:30. No need to RSVP — just show up. And don’t forget to vote!

Posted in Events | 10 Comments »

October 23rd, 2008

Women & craft beer, plus Mad Men

Ms. Mug“Why is craft beer so male-dominated: brewers, retailers, consumers? Do women not get craft beer, do they get the impression that they shouldn’t get craft beer? What’s up?”

Thanks to the cheeky, thoughtful and good-hearted Lew Bryson, chronicler of all malt beverages, for asking me this question and thus providing the basis for my last Ms. Mug column for Ale Street News: Women and Craft Beer: It’s Complicated. Topics of discussion: reasons why craft beer (and beer in general) is male-dominated; women’s perception of beer as fattening; how to introduce women to craft beer; and whether women prefer fruity, “chocolatey” beers.

While we’re on the topic, check out this Boston Menu Pages post, Mad Men, Round Two: The Cocktails (brought to my attention by the photographer Matt Demers, who did the portraits for LUPEC Boston’s Little Black Book of Cocktails). It admires the period cocktails that appear on the show — Peggy Olson’s Brandy Alexanders and Betty Draper’s Tom Collinses, not to mention Don Draper’s Old Fashioneds and Roger Sterling’s Martinis — before pointing the reader to two pages scanned from the 1949 edition of Esquire’s Handbook for Hosts. Titled “Something for the Girls” and “Something for the Boys,” the pages list — you guessed it — gender-specific cocktails to serve at parties.

There is plenty of fodder for discussion here, but the thing about this post that really got me was this conclusion: “If you are feeling ambitious, replicating some of these seems like a very fun activity. Otherwise, be glad that we have bars like Temple Bar to carry out your vintage cocktail sipping.”

Um … Temple Bar? Other than a Vesper and a Death in the Afternoon, TB’s cocktail menu runs more along the lines of the Lemontini and the Cherry Breeze (otherwise known as “something for the girls”). And to think there was a time when girly drinks included Bronxes and Clover Clubs!

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Posted in Beer | 5 Comments »

October 20th, 2008

Homemade grenadine

Pomegranates — grenadine’s key ingredientThis is for the fine folks who attended my Bringing Back the Cocktail Hour session at the Martha’s Vineyard Food & Wine Festival yesterday. First: thanks again for coming! Second: that homemade grenadine we had in the Ward Eight? I realized the recipe’s buried somewhere in the 2006 archives, so I thought I’d make it easy for you and republish it here. Just so you know, I got this recipe from Jackson Cannon, who runs the bar over at Eastern Standard in Kenmore Square. And FYI, the French word for pomegranate, grenade, is where “grenadine” comes from.

Real Pomegranate Grenadine

2 parts Wonderful POM pomegranate juice
1 part sugar
orange flower water

Heat the POM and the sugar in a saucepan until boiling, then turn the heat down and let the mixture simmer gently for 5-15 minutes. Let mixture cool, then pour into a sealed container. Add just a drop or two (literally — the stuff is strong) of orange flower water and store in fridge. If you want to keep the grenadine around for more than a week, add a little high-proof vodka as a preservative. You can also freeze the grenadine.

There are a couple of other recipes for grenadine at Cocktail Chronicles, neither of which call for orange flower water. To find orange flower water, look in Middle Eastern, Caribbean or Asian specialty food stores.

Now, here’s the recipe for the Ward Eight using the homemade grenadine. You can also find the Ward Eight on the Boston cocktails-old page and the Can-Can and the Ninth Ward on the Boston cocktails-new page.

Ward Eight

2 oz rye whiskey (if you can’t find rye, use bourbon)
3/4 oz fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1/2 oz real pomegranate grenadine

Shake all ingredients very well (for at least 30 seconds) over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. About the ice: if you’re using standard cubes from your fridge, crack them first in a ziplock bag or dish towel, or get yourself a Lewis Bag. Cheers!

Posted in Cocktails | 4 Comments »

October 17th, 2008

Event: broads, punch & cool stuff

LUPEC Boston - the Ladies

The boozin’ broads of the Boston chapter of Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails (LUPEC) are at it again. This Tuesday, October 21, they’re going to mix up a coupla big bowls of strong punch and throw a relaunch party for the Little Black Book of Cocktails, which just had its second printing. The event will take place at Somerville’s cool-stuff store, Grand, in Union Square from 6:00-9:00 p.m.

Girls and boys alike are invited to hang out with the Ladies, grab a cup of punch, have a bite to eat, purchase a copy or two of the Little Black Book (filled with the Ladies’ favorite cocktail — and punch — recipes) and shop for everything from bubble calendars to Glow-in-the-Dark Nooka watches to pillows with kitschy embroidered ships.

The Little Black Book costs $15, and all proceeds go to local women’s charities. There is no admission charge for the party, but please RSVP if you plan to attend by emailing jono at grandthestore dot com. See you there!

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Posted in Events, Punch | No Comments »

October 17th, 2008

Food & Wine (and booze!) Fest on the Vineyard

Martha’s Vineyard Food & Wine FestI’m heading to the Martha’s Vineyard Food & Wine Festival this weekend to host a new session for the event called Bringing Back the Cocktail Hour. As the MVFWF website puts it, I’ll “lead a discussion on the lost art of making and enjoying classic cocktails.” Got my homemade grenadine, a bottle of Peychaud’s and a copy of Embury, so that’s a good start. Oh, I also had to bring my own Old Overholt Rye, as the festival organizers informed me that there was no rye to be found on the island (!). Well, if that isn’t a sure sign that the MVFWF needs a cocktail session, I don’t what is.

I’ll be mixing up two vintage cocktails, as well as two vintage-inspired cocktails created by Boston mixologists. For the former, a classic Martini (3:1 gin to dry vermouth, dash of orange bitters, lemon twist) and a Ward Eight (hey, there’s an election upon us). For the latter, a Can-Can (by LUPEC Boston) and a Ninth Ward (by Brother Cleve). Damn, I’m making myself thirsty. If any drinkbostonians happen to be at Bringing Back the Cocktail Hour, say hello!

And check out the Vineyard Gazette’s preview of my session and the rest of the Festival.

Posted in Cocktails, drinkboston in the news, Events | 3 Comments »