Archive for October, 2008

October 13th, 2008

The ‘Boston’ cocktail mystery

Boothby’s World Drinks & How to Mix ThemThere are a bunch of old cocktails with Boston in their name — Boston Cooler, Boston Sour, Boston Special — but, as I mentioned in a previous post about this matter, I have no intel on what makes a cocktail a Boston cocktail. I mean, it’s weird; there are other drinks named after cities, most notably the Manhattan, but also the Frisco, the Saratoga and the Toronto. These are singular cocktails, whereas Boston cocktails are numerous and without apparent rhyme or reason.

In a comment on that previous post, a reader named Mike said, “The ‘Boston’ refers to the use of rum and limes. Boston had a huge trade in molasses and rum with the Caribbean back in the day.” Sure, I know about the historic molasses/rum industry (largely concentrated in Medford), but I don’t see how rum and limes connote a Boston cocktail. I mean, a) tons of cocktails use rum and limes, and b) many Boston-named cocktails call for neither.

When it comes to questions about rum drinks, my go-to source is Old Mr. Medford (aka Brother Cleve), so I passed Mike’s comment by him. He scoured his old cocktail books and came up with a list of Boston-named cocktails, which I have included on the Boston cocktails – old page. This list confirms that drinks named after ol’ Beantown are all over the map.

“There are no stories attached to these recipes,” says Cleve. “The Sour and Sidecar are from a very early Old Mr. Boston book [1946], but Boothby’s [World Drinks And How To Mix Them (1934)] predates that. The Boston Cooler is listed in a number of books. I assume these were served at some popular restaurant or hotel here. Possibly S.S. Pierce had something to do with this?”

Hmmm. Anybody?

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Posted in Books & resources, Cocktails, Rum | 3 Comments »

October 7th, 2008

stuff@night hearts drinkboston

Stuff@night’s 2008 Dining Awards are online, and I am tickled to report that the magazine has named Best Local Food or Drinks Blog. S@N calls this space “required reading for discriminating dipsos.” *Sniff.* That’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.

Also on the list are the B-Side (Biggest Loss), Drink (Most-Anticipated Opening) and J.J. Foley’s (Neighborhood Bar Most Needed by Its Neighborhood). Congrats to all!

Posted in drinkboston in the news | 5 Comments »

October 7th, 2008

Drink NH

Bartender Jeff Grdinich at the White Mountain Cider Co.

It’s true — my home state has a bar worthy of cocktail geeks. You won’t believe your eyes when you check out the White Mountain Cider Co.’s drink menu. This cozy, fine eatery in Glen (just a few minutes up Rte. 16 from North Conway) has the sort of small, rustic but well-stocked bar that you could imagine James Bond ducking into after an Alpine ski chase. Sazerac 6-Yr Rye? Fee Bros. Whiskey Barrel-Aged Bitters? Luxardo Maraschino? In NH? I had to pinch myself.

The Cider Co.’s chief bartender-mixologist is Jeff Grdinich, whom you may have seen around town lately. He was a finalist in the Hendricks Gin Beantown Bartender Battle in August, and he pops down here pretty regularly to hang out with his bartender colleagues and even sit in with them from time to time — he has done guest stints at No. 9 Park and Eastern Standard. And he was part of the Yankee contingent that made a strong showing at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans this year.

Jeff is equally comfortable with classic and molecular mixology; he can put out a faithful rendition of the 1937 Avenue Cocktail (bourbon, calvados, passion fruit juice, real pomegranate grenadine and orange flower water), as well as concoct a boozy homage to Duck L’Orange, complete with duck fat-infused spirits and Grand Marnier. His recipes have been published in the Wine Enthusiast and Nation’s Restaurant News, and his Gin-esaisquoi — a mixture of Hendrick’s, Lillet Blanc, falernum, egg white, orange bitters and cardamom dust that appears on the Cider Co.’s current menu — was chosen for Food & Wine Cocktails 2008.

My favorite cocktail during a recent visit was Jeff’s own The Root of All Evil, which is inspired by Chuck Taggart’s Hoskins. It’s a mixture of Bulleit Bourbon, Grand Marnier, Luxardo Maraschino and Fernet Branca chilled well over ice and served straight up. It’s as beautiful and soul-stirring as autumn leaves. Take a drive north, admire the foliage, then stop in at the Cider Co. and end the day with an exquisite cocktail. You’ll feel like you’ve gotten away with something.

Posted in Cocktails | 10 Comments »

October 2nd, 2008

The Debate

There’s a big debate happening tonight. People all over Boston are asking themselves, ‘Do I go to the grand opening of Drink, or wait a few days/weeks until the hoopla dies down?’

Oh, there’s the vice-presidential debate, too. Which leads to yet another debate: ‘Do I stay home and watch what might be the most memorable 90 minutes of the 2008 presidential race, or go out and avoid a potentially cringe-worthy evening in front of the TV?’

These are tough choices.

If you decide to go out and watch the debate, there is a debate-watching party tonight at the Hong Kong in Harvard Square. It is sponsored by the group Drinking Liberally, whose motto is “promoting democracy one pint at a time.”

While you’re wrestling with the weighty matters of the presidential campaign, the financial crisis and whether it’s too soon to check out Boston’s newest bar, take a few minutes and have a laugh at this, um, instructional video (Jeffrey Morgenthaler posted this on his blog well over a year ago, but I saw it just yesterday). The bartender in it claims that she is making a Mint Julep. Her perkiness, confidence and utter lack of a clue are positively Palinesque.

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Posted in Books & resources, Whiskey | 11 Comments »