Archive for April, 2009

April 28th, 2009

Felten hearts Boston bartenders

Food & Wine Cocktails ‘09Eric Felten’s last two drink columns for the Wall Street Journal have referred, directly and indirectly, to some of Boston’s best bartenders. April 18’s A Welcome Sign of Vodka’s Decline describes a development for which I have been beating the drum for some time, and it singles out Misty Kalkofen‘s mezcal-based recipe for Food & Wine’s Cocktails ’09 — the Maximilian Affair — as “an instant classic.” (Thanks to those readers who tipped me off about this article, and congrats to you, Misty.) Felten also mentions an original cocktail by Jackson Cannon, the Fernet-laced Heather in Queue, as an example of a gravitation toward bitters.

April 25’s Women Behind Bars compares the male-only saloon culture that largely kept women employees out of bars until well after WWII with the prevalence of female bartenders in today’s “culinary cocktail” scene. Felten begins by mentioning this year’s James Beard Foundation culinary gala, whose theme is Women in Food. “More than a dozen prominent female bartenders will be mixing original drinks at the May 4 dinner in New York,” he writes. Guess who will be among those “prominent female bartenders.” Yep, Misty rides again, and she’ll be accompanied by her Drink colleague Josey Packard. Have a blast, girls — can’t wait to see the pics!

Maximilian Affair

Misty Kalkofen (adapted by Eric Felten of the WSJ)

1 1/4 oz mezcal (preferably a smoky, single-village mezcal such as Del Maguey)
3/4 oz St. Germain elderflower liqueur
1/2 oz sweet vermouth (preferably Punt e Mes)
1/4 oz fresh lemon juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Heather in Queue

Jackson Cannon (invented at Eastern Standard)

1 1/2 oz gin
3/4 oz Martini and Rossi Bianco vermouth
1/2 oz Bauchant Orange Liqueur
1/4 oz Fernet-Branca

Stir well over ice and serve straight up. Garnish with flamed lemon twist. This cocktail is named for a regular Friday-night customer who was standing "in queue" when Jackson created this drink for her as a replacement for the Hoskins, "as I was running out of the then famous 164-bottle stash of Amer Picon that I picked from a dusty corner of the Martignetti warehouse."

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Posted in Booze in the news, Cocktails, Vodka | 4 Comments »

April 26th, 2009

Event – Run for the Roses

Mint Juleps - LIFE magazine 1937

One of the things I like about this town is that events in bars have evolved. Of course, it is still often the case that “event” + “bar” = a liquor or beer company decorating the room with plastic banners and table tents and handing out keychains. If you’re really lucky, you get a T-shirt and maybe your photo taken with someone dressed as, say, the St. Pauli Girl or Captain Morgan. It’s not much different from one of those themed birthday parties for six-year-olds.

But now we have bar events that embrace adulthood and a bit of tradition, like the Run for the Roses party this Saturday, May 2 — a.k.a. Kentucky Derby Day — at Drink from 4:00-7:00 p.m. Don a stylish spring hat, strap your bourbon-drinking liver on, grab a racing form, and join in the excitement of one of America’s most storied sporting events.

Drink’s skilled bartenders will serve up classic bourbon cocktails (Mint Juleps, Old-Fashioneds, Horse’s Necks, and more), canapes will be passed, and the race will be broadcast live. Tickets are $40 per person and include the eats, three drinks and a vintage cocktail glass (tax and gratuity extra). Advance purchase of tickets is recommended; to reserve, call Drink at 617-695-1806.

For inspiration (and hat ideas), check out this great series of Kentucky Derby party photos that Alfred Eisenstaedt shot for LIFE in 1937. See you there!

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Posted in Events, Whiskey | No Comments »

April 20th, 2009

Andy McNees

Andy McNees - bartender profile

Bartender profile
Andy McNees is one of those rare specimens who gets away with being a wise-ass. That’s because the smirk he greets you with has a way of turning into a grin that reveals his flip side: loveable dork. He freely admits to this persona, even offering proof: he has been involved for four years running in a Dungeons and Dragons game with several restaurant-industry colleagues. (“D&D is the new poker,” he declares.) He politely declines to reveal the identities of his co-gamers.

McNees’ current gig is at Green Street, whose neighborhood-hangout vibe and classic cocktail-focused bar are a good fit for someone who has worked in spots both cool (B-Side, Bukowski) and classy (Eastern Standard). With a tall, lanky guy’s stride and a long reach, he moves fast without seeming to, and he adjusts seamlessly from the customer who wants a shot and a beer to the one ordering a complicated egg cocktail. Also, though he doesn’t broadcast it, he’s a huge sports fan. If you catch him during a lull and want to talk old-school stats (Honus Wagner’s 1904 batting average, anyone?), you’re in luck.

And if you’re curious about what it’s like to grow up in Oak Ridge, Tennessee (a town built in the early 1940s as a base for the Manhattan Project), the son of Army folk and the grandson of a nuclear physicist, you can ask him about that, too.

Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Past bartending jobs
B-Side, Bukowski (Cambridge), Eastern Standard, 608, Zuzu, Kings.

First drink you ever had
A can of Budweiser.

Favorite bar in (greater) Boston other than your own
Charlie’s Kitchen.

Best Boston bar(s) to watch sports in
Charlie’s Kitchen.

If I weren’t a bartender, I’d be…
An astronaut.

A bartender’s best friend is…
A church key.

A bartender’s worst enemy is…
Broken glass.

Dumbest thing you’ve heard in a bar
“No Coors Light? OK, I’ll have a dirty Belvedere martini.”

Most profound thing you’ve heard in a bar
I can’t remember, but I probably said it, and I was probably drunk.

What you say at last call
Anything I have ever said at last call was completely lifted from, or indirectly influenced by, watching Joe “Steamboat” McGuirk. He’s pretty good at it. Nicole from Eastern Standard has my favorite “last call face.”

Main difference(s) between drinking in Boston and in Tennessee
Last call is later in the Volunteer State. Buying a suitcase of Budweiser at 2:57 a.m. from the corner 7-11 gives Tennessee a pretty sweet edge. However, if your bag is “craft cocktails” and you live in Rocky Top, you might be mixing drinks in your basement. A couple years back a buddy of mine from high school came to Boston for a week, and I turned him on to Fernet [Branca] pretty hard. After returning home he spent nearly a year combing the Southeast for the black eagle. I think he finally found some in Key West. Lucky for me, when I went home last Christmas a local liquor store had started carrying it, and my buddy liked to buy it… So we drank Fernet and played darts under the lights of his Christmas tree. Also, I have redneck friends back home whose family members make white lightning.

Least appreciated alcoholic beverage in Boston
Rum is pretty awesome. During the summer an ice-cold Miller Lite draft at Eastern Standard is pretty amazing. I kinda want to pour it down my pants, especially if Kit is working. Also, I really like Fighting Cock Bourbon.

Most overrated alcoholic beverage in Boston
Sam Adams.

Posted in Bartenders | 6 Comments »

April 17th, 2009

The most amazing gathering of brewers in one Boston bar

Deep Ellum - Citizens of the World party

In the last post I mentioned that the annual Craft Brewers Conference is coming to Boston next week and that the event is spurring local beer bars to show hop heads what they got. Little did I know what an understatement that was. Turns out that Deep Ellum in Allston, in partnership with Shelton Brothers beer importers of Amherst, MA, are hosting what they’re calling the First Annual Citizens of the World Party and what I’m calling the Most Amazing Gathering of Brewers in One Boston Bar. Seriously — Jean Van Roy of Belgium’s fabled lambic brewery, Cantillon, will be there. He has never set foot in the U.S. before.

From Wednesday through Saturday, Van Roy and a couple dozen other artisanal brewers from Belgium, Germany, Scandinavia, Japan, England, Quebec and, of course, the U.S. will drop by Deep Ellum to schmooze and booze. They are responsible for most of the 80+ draught beers that will be tapped over the course of the four-day fest. (There’ll be special bottled beers, too.) Brasserie de la Senne (Belgium), Mahr’s (Germany), Ridgeway (England) and Dieu de Ciel (Quebec), plus the U.S. breweries Russian River (CA), Southampton Publick House (NY), Jolly Pumpkin (MI), Sly Fox (PA), Allagash (ME) and High & Mighty (MA), are just a sampling of the breweries represented. Check in with the Shelton Brothers blog for details and updates.

Each night has a theme: Wednesday is Welcome to the Craft Brewers Conference with BeerAdvocate; Thursday is East of the Mississippi; Friday is West of the Mississippi; and it looks like Saturday will be Day of the Belgians (check in with the abovementioned blog or with Deep Ellum about exact times). And last, but so not least, the Shelton Brothers and Dogfish Head are co-hosting a beer party Tuesday night at the Other Side Cafe on Newbury St.

Inform your friends in Allston that you are crashing on their couch next week, and come check this out.

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Posted in Beer, Boston bars | 7 Comments »

April 11th, 2009

The grape and the grain

Beer crowd toastingIt appears that April 2009 is unofficially Beer and Wine Month in Boston. You’ve got the first Wine Riot (“This isn’t your parents’ wine event”) and the 10th Beer Summit happening on the same weekend, April 17 and 18. Tix are still on sale for both. And you’ve got the Craft Brewers Conference coming to town the following week, April 21-24. It’s all part of Boston’s long-hatched plan to be the best drinking town in America.

Wine tastingOK, maybe not, but it all adds up to some serious enthusiasm in the Hub for good drink. Note that the Craft Brewers Conference, an annual gathering of folks in an industry made up of thousands of small breweries and brewpubs, doesn’t just meet in any city. They aim for venues that offer attendees lots of places where they can find their chosen beverage. While most of the activity around the conference is industry-only and happens at the World Trade Center, breweries and beer bars around Boston are doing special events to take advantage of the influx of beer professionals from around the country.

Redbones is having a Smuttynose Keg Party on April 22 from 5:00-7:00 — 18 kegs of the Portsmouth, NH, brewery’s beers on tap at one time including vintage, short-batch and fan favorites. Also, brewers from the Cambridge Brewing Co. and Mayflower Brewing led the creation of a special beer for the conference, the Audacity of Hops, which will be available at Cambridge Brewing and some other local bars that week (and perhaps for a little while afterwards if supplies last).

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Posted in Beer, Wine | No Comments »