September 25th, 2010

Nips – 9/25/10

It’s a pretty good list. That is, GQ magazine’s first attempt at choosing, in ranked order, The 25 Best Cocktail Bars in America. Let’s get out of the way the fact that, like any “best of” list, this one has provoked some gripes. No Teardrop Lounge (Portland), no Vessel (Seattle), no Milk & Honey (New York)?

And don’t get Bostonians started. Ranking “evolved music venue” the Whistler in Chicago above our city’s Drink, an actual cocktail bar? And what’s with back-handed compliments like, in the Drink writeup: “Don’t cringe when the bartenders … ask for your ‘flavor profile.’ They mean no harm” (this notion that Drink’s bartenders behave like New Age therapists has got to die); and referring to Eastern Standard as “(perhaps unintentionally) the most elegant sports bar in the country”? Ouch.

But wait. Maybe Eastern Standard really is the most elegant sports bar in the country. That’s part of what makes it great. And GQ chose the ZigZag Cafe in Seattle as the number-one cocktail bar in the land. Is anyone going to quibble with that? Let’s congratulate both Drink and Eastern Standard for making the list and also raise a glass to GQ for promoting to a mass audience the idea that “every city in this country deserves a bar that cares deeply about the craft of the cocktail.”

» Bartenders on the move… We applaud and lament the departure of Superman Sam Treadway from the 21st-best cocktail bar in America (see above). The poor thing left Drink for a job offer to open three new hotel bars in Hawaii… Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli, who left Craigie on Main early this year, will soon open the Island Creek Oyster Bar as general manager in the Kenmore Square space that used to house Great Bay… Meanwhile, a few doors down, the talented Bob McCoy is wrapping up his tenure at Eastern Standard to join ICOB as principal bartender. The new restaurant won’t be cocktail-centric, although something tells me you’ll be able to order a top-notch drinky there… Speaking of top-notch drinkies, the talented bar staff at Craigie on Main offers best wishes to their colleague Paul Manzelli, who is leaving to pour libations at the new restaurant Bergamot. This development, along with Greg Rossi’s presence behind the now-full-liquor-licensed bar at Dali, makes the intersection of Beacon and Washington streets in Somerville an unlikely spot for dueling fine-dining barmen… Finally, two of Boston bartending’s big guns, Todd Maul of Clio and journeyman Ben Sandrof, will appear for one night only tomorrow (9/26) at Woodward at AMES ongoing Cocktail Wars.

» Freaky Tiki Fridays II. You might remember that July’s Nips column mentioned a fun new thing called Freaky Tiki Fridays at Think Tank in Kendall Square. Well, the day after the inaugural happy hour, Cambridge experienced the Great Flash Flood of 2010. Think Tank’s sub-basement space was nearly destroyed. Now the joint has re-emerged from the deluge, and Boston’s Emperor of Exotica, Brother Cleve, reports that the weekly after-work shindig with Polynesian-styled cocktails and app specials and “an array retro/futuristic sounds of nu/old school lounge, tiki/exotica, surf, soul and other titty shakers” is back on.

» Bittermens Bitters. Finally, finally, finally, Boston has its own bitters producer. The saga of Bittermens Bitters, which Avery and Janet Glasser started in 2007, has included a long and drawn-out licensing application, an ill-fated partnership with the Bitter Truth, and, finally, today’s status as a legal producer and seller of “non-potable” elixirs — like Xocolatl Mole Bitters, Grapefruit Bitters and Boston Bittahs — beloved by craft cocktail bartenders nationwide. Congrats and best of luck to this local concern. Here’s how to buy Bittermens Bitters.

Permalink | Filed under Bitters, Booze in the news, Boston bars, Nips | Tags: , ,

8 Responses to “Nips – 9/25/10”

  1. Frederic

    Any clue when Paul works at Bergamot? Or has he not started yet?

    I know that Greg Rossi works earlier in the week (I remember we went on a Monday) or at least not on the weekends.

    And Sam’s first day/bar opening is tomorrow!

  2. jon in NH

    I’ve been driving by Cole’s every day for the last two weeks. I thought it was just famous for French Dip sandwiches and surly service. Really? Top 25 in the country?

  3. ljclark

    Fred, I think Paul is starting soon. Greg works at Dali Mon-Thurs. Best of luck to Sam!

    Jon, I think GQ’s summary of Cole’s/the Varnish is confusing. The Varnish is indeed a respected craft cocktail bar. Cole’s seems like it belongs more in the category of Great Institutions, like Musso & Frank’s in L.A. and Keen’s in NYC. Still, I’ve never been to either Cole’s or the Varnish, so if you go, let me know what you think.

  4. Randy

    I’d be happy to give reports on Sam’s bars on Oahu as the DrinkBoston Hawaii correspondant!

  5. Ian Osmond

    Hey, I’m the daytime bartender at think tank — so, wanted to let you all know that, besides having Brother Cleve back (YAAAAAY!), we’re also open for lunch, so come by and visit me!

    If you work in the Tech Square area, you should know that a beer or cocktail with lunch will make you more relaxed, creative, and productive for the second half of your day. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

    So drop by! I miss you guys! Lunch is no fun if you’re not there.

  6. Flea

    Fred Paul has started at Bergamot

  7. Frederic

    Thanks Flea! Andrea and I went last night and had a good time. Easy to find a seat at the bar after the diners had left for the night, and Paul and Kai (the old wine guy from Craigie) are quite entertaining behind the stick.

  8. liv

    whoa i totally cringed when i read that eastern standard blurb. i couldn’t disagree more. i’ve never in a million years thought about it as a sports bar, even a supremely elegant one.

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