So I've posted about Rock and Rye before, and yes, I make a personal version which is good enough for me if legendary woman about town Rebecca Jane likes it. However, leave it Rob Cooper (St. Germain liqueur fame) to come out with a great bottled version-
Slow and Low. His, appropriately is more rough and tumble at 98 proof. Bitter, sweet, citrusy, reviving, to be best enjoyed on ice if you ask me, although I hear alongside a beer works pretty well too. Like in the old days it may just cure what ails you, maybe a substitute for the flu shot?
Perhaps too obvious, but imagine the Beastie Boys of the cocktail world, which leads me to the following video:
"Slow and Low was inspired by the original Hochstadter’s Rock and Rye recipe and a few other 19th century recipes Rob Cooper discovered. It is made strong; using the best aged whiskey and matured slowly. 6 Year-Old Straight Rye Whiskey is macerated with three citrus peels: lemon, grapefruit and orange, pure cane rock candy, honey and a hint of horehound" (a wild bitter herb). 98 proof, about $32 in liquor stores.
is more than industry terminology (i.e. who's on the bar at Deep Ellum tonight?), it's also an app. That's right, pick your bartenders and find out when and where they're working on a given night to find them in action.
A simple, intuitive idea, how come I didn't think of it? Ok, hold off the jokes.
Luckily, the guys at onthebar did, and we have founders Ian Stanczyk and TJ Connelly to thank. The team is rounded out by Corey Bunnewith (industry advisor) and Anthony Roldan (software development), but I met up with just Ian over coffee the other day.
Born in Connecticutt, he began web building in the 90's when he was just 10 (personal computers didn't exist when I was 10, by the way), so he had a big head start when he got to Northeastern, also studying economics. After graduation he worked short-term with a software company and figured it was time for business school, got accepted, and prepared to enter Dartmouth for the fall term of 2011. The only thing in the way was a Summer off- 4 months, which I probably would have goofed around and gone to bars. Well, Ian did too, but his savvy parlayed into a great idea of how to find bartenders, in his case his Northeastern roommate, Ted Killpatrick, now of No. 9 Park.
"We grew up on the same street, were roommates, I dove into the bar world visiting where he worked- Radius or Sel de la Terre at the time. I thought how great it would be if he had a button on his phone when pressed would let me know he was working… It was maybe selfish, but I wanted kind of a 'bat signal' alerting me." The app now tells a bartender the 'bat signal' has been sent when they sign in.
Ian first called the app Bostonflip after his favorite drink Ted made him, and didn't want it to fall through the cracks when he went off to school. Enter the awesome TJ Connelly, who people had been telling Ian he had to meet, and did, over brunch at Toro, and prepared to hand off the baton. I've got a feeling a lot of great things have happened over brunch at Toro. Turns out TJ had been thinking of a similar platform- a match made perfect sense. At the 11th hour, the night before heading off to school, his eureka moment happened, and he stayed, all in. The team revamped the name, and the rest is history. "Grass roots, it heightens one's relationship and experience with a bartender," Ian says, "they are often the face of an establishment." Presently the focus is Boston, but bartenders from New York, Providence, Portland, Arizona and San Francisco use it. I love onthebar's nonjudgmental nature where there's no rating system, any and all bartenders may use it from local joints to high end lounges, a level playing field.
Download the app, if you're a customer, bartender or both, find when and where people are working- I use every night, if you can call what I do work.
George Dickel died in 1894, but his legacy lives on. I have always been a fan of the Tennesse Whisky, but after just trying the recently released 5 year rye- well, it's on. 95% rye mash whisky (no corn at all, the remaining 5% is barley), chilled, charcoal filtered- spicy, caramel and oak, with cherry fruit notes- very dry.
Good solo, even better in a Manhattan.
Its journey is a bit different from the sour mash whisky- distilled and aged in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, then true to house pedigree, onto sugar maple filtering in Tullahoma, Tennessee. 45% ABV, about $25 in stores.
Thanks to Derek McClusker, there is a delicious drink at Saloon in Davis Square- refreshing enough for dreams of warmer evenings but rich and spicy for winter with rosemary and ginger beer. Continuing further with this idea, check out the upcoming Escape Your Winter Woes Mezcal dinner, Thursday, February 28th. Now that's something to warm up to.
Green Thumb: Blanco Tequila, cucumber, lime, rosemary simple, ginger beer.
True to bartender form, Derek's personal shift drink is a bit more of a straight shooter and right up my alley. A Shlitz and shot of Riverboat Rye (Redemption Rye's younger brother). Cheers, and keep the great drinks flowing.
What’s better for Valentine’s Day than a battle of the sexes? I’m not much for the cheesy hoopla anyway- it can end up being a worse night than New Year’s Eve to go out.
In one corner,
Heather Mojer (Hungry Mother) vs. Evan Harrison (Highland Kitchen)
in the other.
This is quite a battle of not only the sexes but, without a doubt, two of Boston’s best bartenders who just happen to be my favorite couple.
Valentino Cocktail by Heather Mojer
1.5oz Tequila Por Mi Amante*
.75oz Espinheira Ginja (brandy-based fruit liqueur from Portugal)
.75oz Lemon juice
topped with 1.5oz sparkling wine
Build the first three ingredients in a tin, shake with ice, and strain in to a coupe or flute. Top with sparkling wine. Garnish with a lemon twist or ginja cherry. Get housed.
*Tequila Por Mi Amante: Wash, hull, and slice in half 3 pints of fresh strawberries and place them in a clean, sealable container. Add 750ml of 100% agave blanco tequila (reposado works well too). Seal the container and let steep in cool dark place for 2-3 weeks. After steeping, strain out solids and pour tequila into a clean sealable container (perhaps the original tequila bottle or mason jars). Keep refrigerated. Adapted from Charles H. Baker Jr's The Gentleman's Companion.
Heather: "While thinking about a Valentine's Day cocktail, and after tossing around a few ideas, I opened my fridge and saw jars of tequila por mi amante from last June. Though usually Evan and I carry it with us in a flask to enjoy amongst ourselves or share with friends at weddings and other special occasions, the name "tequila por mi amante" lends itself quite nicely as a base for a Valentine's themed drink. Citrus and Ginja round out the spirit, and bubbles always pair well with romantic celebration."
Basilica Cocktail by Evan Harrison
1oz Cocchi Americano (aperitif wine from Asti- like Kina Lillet)
1oz Cinzano Rosso
.5oz Suze (a French aperitif bitters)
1 dash Angostura Orange Bitters
Build all ingredients in an old fashioned glass. Add one large ice cube (or a few small ones) and stir. Express orange oil over the drink. Cheers.
Evan: "For my Valentine's Day drink I decided to go with something inspired by the Old Hickory, a vermouth based old-fashioned variant. Over the past couple of years I've found myself drinking Old Hickory cocktails on date night because it tastes like a real drink, but it's relatively low in alcohol content. The Basilica fits the same description, but it has a slightly more bitter, more herbal character, and a blood red hue that fits our Valentine's day scheme. I imagine an ideal Valentine's Day cocktail to be something delicious and sophisticated that you can drink all night without slurring your sweet nothings.
The name refers to the Basilica di San Valentino in Terni, Italy, which actually has nothing to do with Saint Valentine. I just thought it sounded cool."
Tough to pick a winner here (although Heather is much, much cuter- well, Evan is kind of dreamy too), but I do have Valentine’s Day advice. Go have a surprise romantic dinner on another night (this will impress your sweetheart more), instead find a bar and have a cocktail-
or maybe two.
A friend asked me if I had planned to post anything about Mardi Gras, which happens to be this Tuesday. Yes, Fat Tuesday (The English translation from the French), before Ash Wednesday. But no, I hadn't.
Hunkered down in the storm over the weekend however, I got thinking about New Orleans and warm weather revelry. I fantasized about sipping elegant, classic drinks there like The Sazerac and The Ramos Gin Fizz- but they don't really remind me of Mardi Gras. I think of The Hurricane cocktail, maybe even in the ubiquitous and non-glamorous plastic cup.
Pat O'Brien, a New Orleans bar owner, came up with the drink in the 1940s, kind of by mistake. He had been forced by distributors into having a lot of less popular rum sitting in his liquor room (before they would sell him could any whiskey) and had to do something with it. His brainstorm was to give it to sailors by adding some passion fruit juice, lime and put it in a glass that had a hurricane lamp shape. As my friend Kitty (Kirsten Amann of Fernet Branca) would say: Boom, cocktail! The bar Pat O'Brien's now has many locations, is pretty commercial, and the drink is unnaturally red and syrupy.
However, let's see if we can get back to its basics- pretty much a Daquiri dolled up a bit.
Hurricane: 1oz White Rum, 1oz Dark Rum, .5oz Over Proof Rum (like Smith & Cross 114 proof), .75 oz passion fruit syrup, .5 oz lime juice. Shake ingredients with ice and strain over fresh ice with an orange and cherry garnish.
Passion fruit syrup: 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar, .5 cup passion fruit pulp (about 6 ripe passion fruits- also can use frozen from most supermarkets).
Heat all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil, when sugar dissolves, bring to low heat and reduce syrup for 15 minutes or so. Remove from heat and let cool, keep refrigerated- it should last a week.
Steve Shur, behind the venerable Boston College Club bar. At my urging, he thoughtfully contributes a personal essay this week.
Why it's best to visit bartenders rather than bars- by Steve Shur.
“I visit bartenders, not bars.” I first heard those meaningful words spoken by “the Yoda of mixology” Gary Regan a few years ago in a seminar at the Museum Of The American Cocktail in the wonderful city of New Orleans. During a very tiring Jazzfest week it was amazing I made it to the seminar at all, but I was not going to miss the chance to meet anyone compared to Yoda. In the seminar I remember Gaz talking about his favorite bartenders from all over the world. When Josh Childs asked me to contribute to this blog I figured it would make sense to talk about my favorite bartenders since, frankly, they are a huge reason I am a full-time bartender which has been the best job I’ve ever had. Loving what you do for work is something we all should be able to say although few people can. I am grateful I can, and it is in large part due to some of the greats I have met along the way. It is impossible to name all of the people in the industry who have influenced me, but they have all played a part in what has become both an obsession and a career that I truly love.
Being a bartender was my first job out of college back in the 20th century (great cocktail), but it wasn’t until the 21st century that I finally realized what the key to being a great bartender was: making people happy. In 2008, while in New Orleans during Jazzfest, my girlfriend Michelle and I decided to have dinner at the legendary Arnaud’s restaurant. Not necessarily because of the great food or the rich history of being open since 1918 or for the chance to get the fiery Café Brulot for dessert. The main reason we went to visit was because of an article I had read in the Boston Globe about a specific cocktail Chris Hannah had made for the writer called the Curari, a libation made with rye whiskey, ruby port, Amaro Cora, and orange bitters. The descriptions of the writer’s experience had me more than curious, making it an absolute must to make Arnaud’s.
We were sat in a beautiful dining room adjacent to Bourbon Street with a jazz trio belting out classic jazz standards which created a most pleasant atmosphere that could never be forgotten. Our waiter approached us and asked us what we would like to drink. My response was basically a busy bartender’s nightmare which went something like: “Yeah, I saw an article about a drink that some guy makes here but can’t remember the name of the drink or the guy...” The waiter knew I was talking about Chris so he escorted me to meet the weeded barman and had me repeat my embarrassing request to him while he was trying to make drinks for the extremely busy restaurant. Chris didn’t have time to look at me much but, to my amazement, assured me he knew which drink I was referring and told me it would be right over to my table. Shortly after I returned to my table the drink arrived with a napkin doubling as a personal note from Chris. He included the name of the cocktail’s creator (Ted Haigh aka “Dr. Cocktail”) and the recipe. This was as impressive as the taste, which was a fresh new experience to my inexperienced palate. We had been at the restaurant for less than 10 minutes and my experience was truly special before I had even looked at the extravagant delicious-sounding menu. I enjoyed the cocktail so much that when the waiter came back to serve me another cocktail my request was simple: “Have Chris make me whatever he wants.” Not the best thing to tell a busy bartender when sitting at the bar, but telling a waiter there is no guilt to worry about. Soon came another fascinating libation, another napkin, another note with the drink’s history and recipe, and another terrific experience. Our 3-hour dinner was perfect in every aspect including the Café Brulot for the finish. Before I had even ordered any dinner an important rule of the service industry had been demonstrated: “Good service can save a bad meal, but a good meal can’t save bad service.” This place was great on both ends.
When I returned to Boston there was a new door to enter into the world of bartending--not only some new concoctions but a new way to make a guest’s experience special. Since then I have strived to make my customers happy and have written many a recipe on many napkins.
About a month later a few friends and I went to the Green St. Grill in Cambridge to test out a large portion of their illustrious cocktail menu. Misty Kalkofen was there that evening, very busy and smiling wide every time she approached us to take our many requests. Everything we had that evening was exceptional of course, most importantly my first Old Fashioned: simply but perfectly made with whiskey, sugar, water, and bitters. I inquired about the history of the drink and got not only everything I needed to know on how to make one of these gems but Misty, knowing I was a bartender, told me about Tales Of The Cocktail, B.A.R. (Beverage Alcohol Resource) program, and she introduced me to The Savoy Cocktail book. I had just found the Holy Grail all in one visit. In one month, my passion for the industry had multiplied 100 times. I remember telling Misty all about Chris Hannah in New Orleans whom she did not know at the time. “Well, you gotta meet him” I said.
Another experience that must be shared is a visit with Josh Childs at Silvertone a few years ago. My good friend Bruce was in town from Kansas City and the night before he went home I took him to the comfort food speakeasy-like bar we all know and love. We didn’t really know what we wanted to drink so we asked Josh to make us something nice. Two Captain Shaddock cocktails were put in front of us and it was just want we wanted: nice and light, refreshing, and balanced. The cocktail was great, but it was Josh’s casual but professional and friendly demeanor that made us feel exceptionally comfortable, the way everyone should feel when visiting a bar or tavern.
The other night a couple of co-workers and I got out of work at the same time and went to Stoddard’s Bar for a quick cocktail before going home. As soon as we arrived at the crowded busy bar I made certain to say hello to Jamie Walsh, bar manager and friend who always makes us feel more than welcome. We had some stellar cocktails and when I asked Jamie what he was passionate about these days in the industry he took us all downstairs to The Friday Club, a place that will primarily feature spirits and beer from local and independent producers. One cocktail turned into a few and into another great night out.
Exceeding a guest’s needs should be the goal of every bartender. Friendly service is infectious and everlasting and will make people come back and feel welcome. Trying new bars can be fun and a great experience, but when you are looking for a guaranteed good time out for some drinks and maybe some dinner, visiting bartenders instead of bars is always the way to go.
A Tribute to Film, Italian Bitters and American Whiskey
At the Blue Room every Monday this February from 9:00pm to 1:00am, the bar is mixing up Fratelli Branca Italian bitters, Bully Boy American Straight Whiskey and Spaghetti Western flicks. Guest bartenders will be slinging specialty cocktails paired with Italian-American snacks during weekly screenings of Sergio Leone's Dollars Trilogy.
February 4: A Fistful of Dollars with bartenders John Henderson (Scholars) and Tyler Wang (No.9 Park)
February 11: For a Few Dollars More with bartenders Katie Emmerson (The Hawthorne) and Fred Yarm (Cocktail Virgin Slut)
February 18: The Good the Bad and the Ugly with bartenders Noon Inthasuwan (Moksa) and Sam Treadway (Backbar)
February 25: Once Upon a Time in the West with bartenders Evan Harrison (Highland Kitchen) and Ted Kilpatrick (No. 9 Park)
Cocktails and bar bites served à la carte for $9.00 to $13.00, One Kendall Square, Cambridge.