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Cocktail Summit Update: Downtown

Posted by Josh Childs  October 5, 2012 05:03 PM

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So, for the Cocktail Summit, I convinced Tom Mastricola (now the GM of Clio), John Gertsen (Drink), Ryan McGrale (Storyville) to do a seminar with me at Silvertone, in the Chez Freddie Room. The connection? Back in the early days of the cocktail scene (1998) No.9 Park was getting things rolling, and every night (and I mean every) they all made there way down to Silvertone for a nightcap, well, several. In relation to No. 9, we were kind of the little brother who partied later in the night. But that comradery led to discussions on drinks, a group collective of ideas and techniques.

Surrounded by All Stars: John Gertsen, Ryan McGrale, me, Tom Mastricola
photo by Ian Strickland.

Tom talked about his decision at the beginning to opt for fresh juices and small batch spirits; it was the clear way to set the same high bar for the beverage program that Barbara Lynch did for the food. He often does not take the credit, and in fact often deflects it- but he is as responsible for craft cocktails in Boston as anyone.
I must confess, it took years, but he convinced me.

We referred back to the classic Locke Ober Cafe drink the Ward 8, supposedly created in 1998 celebrating Martin Lomsaney's victory in the state legislature. The real story may be far different and created earlier, but as John Gertsen pointed out "sometimes the best bar stories are the ones to go with." The year was important- 1898, as a century later, in 1998, Tom pushed the cocktail culture in town with his Palmyra, basically a mint Gimlet. But fresh ingredients, garnish, presentation and glassware changed how customers viewed drinks. Remember, at that time you would likely only stock Rose's lime juice behind the bar.

Palmyra 2.5 oz Rain Vodka, .5 oz fresh lime, .75 oz mint simple syrup

Ryan championed the No. 9 #10 cocktail, a refreshing take on a Negroni, also an early No. 9 staple. Again, it may seem obvious today, but in 2000, a fresh take on a classic was not the norm- a Blueberry Martini was more typical.

No. 9 #10 2.5 oz Tanquerray Ten Gin, .75 oz ruby red grapefruit, .5 oz Campari

John continued to regale us all with stories ranging from techniques handed down from Dale Degroff to drinking with David Wondrich. Tying it all together he aptly served an original old fashioned with Cognac instead of Rye, Demarara sugar cubes, bitters and lemon. Boozy and delicious, I was back at the turn of the century- funny how drinks can do that.
I had to bring us almost all the way back to the present but stopped short in 1998- yup, a shot of Fernet Branca and a Miller High Life.
Now that really is living the dream.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
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