Posts Tagged ‘mixology’

August 19th, 2010

The cocktail editor

I’ve hit a wall — a wall of cocktails. No, I haven’t had too much to drink (the night is young). Rather, I can’t decide what to drink in the first place. There are too many cocktails out there. This is a fabulous problem.

Talented bartenders around the city are in a spasm of creativity. When they’re not creating new cocktails for their oft-rotating menus or to satisfy their individual customers’ nightly whims, they’re whipping up new recipes for liquor brand-sponsored contests and promotions. (And as we know, more and more bartenders are going further, moonlighting as mixologists for spirits companies.) At the same time, they’re continually digging old cocktails out of obscurity as re-printings of vintage bartending manuals proliferate.

Hence, I can always order something I’ve never had before at a half-dozen or more bars around town. What I end up with is usually pretty satisfying. But is it memorable? This is where I hit that proverbial wall. Either I don’t give enough cocktails a chance to cast a spell over my senses, or not enough cocktails are that magical in the first place.

I’m not going to get all Bernard DeVoto and say that there are only two cocktails, a slug of whiskey and a Martini (although those are on my desert island list). I’m saying that, like writing or filmmaking, cocktailing — both production and consumption — needs a little editing. Or sometimes a lot of editing.

And different kinds of editing, too. Think of a bar as a publishing house. There are the acquisitions editors, who curate the recipes according to the house philosophy and the season. There are the content editors, who pick apart a recipe, try different proportions, add a barspoon of this or a twist of that, and form it into a workable draft. There are the copyeditors, who refine things further by suggesting perhaps a different brand of gin or a flamed peel. And there are the proofreaders, who notice mistakes like a lipstick-stained glass or wilted mint.

The wrinkle, of course, is that the bartender has to fill most if not all these roles. The customer generally works in the proofreading department but sometimes takes on some copy and content editing, depending on his knowledge of cocktails and rapport with the bartender.

Customers have to be their own editors, too. If you, like me, have hit a cocktail wall, maybe you need to pare down a bit. Stick with, say, 10 different cocktails and get to know them over the course of a year. Choose depth over variety. After that period, you might have acquired enough wisdom, palate-wise, to quote Samuel Johnson to an up-and-comer behind the bar who just served you his fourth new creation of the evening: “Read your own compositions, and when you meet a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.”

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Posted in Cocktails | 8 Comments »

March 17th, 2010

They rose, we drank


As we witnessed Sunday night, all that Boston imbibers need to lure them out of the house when it’s raining sideways is the promise of a well-made cocktail and a good party. I applaud our hardiness — not to mention the emerging bar talent that made the evening possible.

Green Street, the venue and co-host for Boston Bartenders on the Rise, made the savvy decision of removing all the tables and chairs from the dining room to accommodate the sell-out crowd. We were warmly welcomed with a beer cocktail by Green Street proprietor Dylan Black called De Stella Nova: Pretty Things Jack D’Or Belgian-style farmhouse ale, 2 dashes of orange bitters and a candied citrus star flavored with coriander.


We then moved on to the four original cocktails created for the occasion by our featured talent (recipes and creators listed below in serving order). I circled the place again and again to say hello to everyone while sneaking the occasional fried oyster, chicken rillette, grilled shrimp on a skewer, or juicy slider (thank you for the lovely apps, chef Greg Reeves!).

Many, many thanks to those who traveled both near and far to join in on some drinkboston-style fun. Thanks also to Sean Frederick for the photos and the entire smooth-operating Green Street staff. Let’s do it again soon!


Loose Translation
Carrie Cole, Craigie on Main

1 1/4 oz Scorpion mezcal
3/4 oz Aperol
1/2 oz Mathilde XO orange cognac
1/2 oz pineapple syrup
1/2 oz lime juice
Pinch kosher salt
Dash Allspice Dram

Quick shake over ice, pour entire contents into a highball glass, and top with a splash of ginger ale. Drinkboston: We need something fruity on the menu. Carrie: I’m thinking of using mezcal. Result: a loose, tiki-inspired translation.

Evan Harrison, Deep Ellum

1 1/2 oz Old Overholt rye
1/2 oz Cynar
1/2 oz green Chartreuse
1/2 oz fresh grapefruit juice
Dash grapefruit bitters, Deep Ellum orange bitters

Shake over ice and serve straight up with grapefruit peel garnish. Inspired by skateboarding legend Stacy Peralta.

Saving Daylight
Bob McCoy, Eastern Standard

2 oz Plymouth gin
1 oz McCoy’s homemade golden vermouth
1/4 oz St. Germain
1/8 oz Cointreau
Dash McCoy’s aromatic bitters

Stir over ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with orange peel. Sip as winter turns to spring.

William of Orange
Emily Stanley, Green Street

1 1/2 oz Bols genever
1/2 oz Benedictine
1/2 oz Punt E Mes
1/2 oz Aperol
Dash orange bitters

Stir over ice and serve down (i.e. strain into a rocks glass). Named for the English king who ushered in the era when Dutch genever became English gin.

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Posted in Bartenders, Beer, Boston bars, Cocktails, Events, Gin, Whiskey | 4 Comments »

March 1st, 2009

Nips – 3/1/09

A few spirited nips for you on this snowy Sunday…

Tremont 647 director of operations Joy Richard, aka Bourbon Belle of the Boston chapter of Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails, deserves a shout-out. She recently traveled to L.A. to compete in the Hendricks gin Marvelous Limerick & Cocktail Competition.

You may remember how Richard qualified for this gig: by winning Hendricks’ Beantown Bartender Battle at Green Street last summer. Contestants mixed an original Hendricks cocktail that highlighted the botanicals used to flavor the gin, and they penned an accompanying limerick about their potion. Check out the recipe for Richard’s drink, Nobody’s Darling, and her limericks at LUPEC Boston’s blog.

Joy Richard at Hendricks gin contest in L.A.“The competition itself was in this incredible bar called the Edison, which I believe was L.A.’s first electric company. The space was like nothing I’ve ever seen,” Richard said.

“We were judged on the following points: 1. costume (theme: Victorian Steampunk); 2. limerick; 3. cocktail name, and why you named it what you named it; 4. cocktail taste; and 5. showmanship.”

Alas, our clever Bostonian did not take home the trophy that night. It went to Peter Vestinos from the Wirtz Beverage Group in Chicago for his drink, A Cotswold Afternoon.

Meanwhile, a group of amateur mixologists competed in TV Diner’s annual cocktail contest on NECN. The entries in this competition fall largely in the silly-vodka-drink camp — first place went to the jailbait-appropriate Dreamy Banana Tini — but the classic cocktail revival made a showing with the second-place finisher, the Father’s Advice.

“I couldn’t believe that I placed at all. Seriously: gin and raw egg?” quipped the drink’s creator, James Slaby, who has been a regular at and LUPEC Boston events. He presents his cocktail — “halfway between a Ramos Fizz and a Gin Flip” — in this clip from the show.

Father’s Advice (a morning-after tonic)

1 ½ oz Plymouth gin
¾ oz Baines pacharan (a Spanish cordial)
¾ oz fresh lemon juice
½ oz light cream
½ oz simple syrup
½ teaspoon Regan’s Orange Bitters
8 drops Fee’s Brothers Whiskey Barrel-Aged Bitters
1 fresh, whole egg
Healthy grind of fresh black pepper
1 dried star anise

Pour liquids into shaker half-full of cracked ice. Add egg and fresh pepper. Shake vigorously for 60 seconds. Strain into a well-chilled sour glass or rocks glass. Float star anise on top.

Finally, check out this Bostonist interview with Adam Lantheaume of the Boston Shaker, a first-of-its-kind boutique for Boston-area cocktailians that I wrote about not long ago.

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Posted in Bartenders, Cocktails, Drinking supplies, Gin, Nips | 7 Comments »

November 28th, 2008

Ginger – ooh la la

Ginger Grant dreams of Domaine de Canton

Calling all Boston imbibers: This Monday, December 1, a group of Boston bartenders will compete in the semi-finals of the Domaine de Canton 2009 Bartender of the Year contest. The competition will, of course, involve mixing an original cocktail using the exquisite new French cognac-based, real ginger-infused liqueur.

The event takes place upstairs at the Beehive in the South End from 5:00-7:00 (after the judges have made their selection) and features complimentary appetizers and Domaine de Canton cocktails. It’s open to the public, but you gotta RSVP by emailing

The contestants are:

Jennifer Harvey – 33 Restaurant & Lounge
Mike Paquette – Scampo Restaurant
Bob McCoy – Eastern Standard
Josh Caron – Five Fifty-Five
Steven Shur – Boston College Club
Jeff Grdinich – White Mountain cider Co.
Clif Travers – The Beehive
Chris Whitney – Alibi Bar & Lounge

The judges (with their titles quoted verbatim from the invite) include:

John Gertsen. Cocktail Guru – No.9 Park & Drink
Liza Weisstuch. Sprits & Lifestyle Writer – Imbibe Magazine, Whisky Magazine, Massachusetts Beverage Business
Misty Kalkofen. Mixologist Extraordinaire – Drink, Founder LUPEC Boston

See you there!

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Posted in Cocktails, Events, Liqueur | 4 Comments »

July 23rd, 2008

New deadline for Hendrick’s contest

This just in from Green Street bar manager Misty Kalkofen regarding the Hendrick’s Beantown Bartender Battle at Green Street on August 5: “We’ve extended the deadline for recipe submissions to Sunday. As many of us were busy destroying our livers in NOLA, Charlotte [Voisey, Hendrick’s brand ambassador] and I felt many folks could use a couple of extra days. Email your submissions to Charlotte and start working on a limerick!”

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Posted in Events, Gin | No Comments »