Beer cocktails are not easy, but when they succeed, well, everyone's happy, including me. Chris Balchum pouring the other night at Park in Harvard Square is doing just that with:
Tom Terrific by Daren Swisher
1 ¾ oz. Hayman’s Old Tom Gin (slightly sweeter style than London dry)
½ oz. Cherry Heering (Brandy based cherry liqueur)
½ oz. Demerara Syrup (richer simple syrup made with sugar in the raw- named after a formerly colonized area of Guyana)
½ oz. Lemon Juice
2 oz. Great Divide Titan IPA
Combine ingredients over ice. Shake and strain over fresh ice in a Collins glass.
Top with 2 oz. IPA; roll back and forth in a shaker tin.
Garnish with an orange and cherry flag. Sweet, sour, pleasantly bitter hops, perfectly balanced and ready for Spring refreshment.
A sure indication of a cocktail's fame is a international day of celebration. The first Saturday in February (this year Saturday the 2nd) is officially International Pisco Sour Day, perhaps the most famous drink in South America- maybe all the Americas.
Victor Vaughn Morris, an ex-patriot invented the drink in his Lima bar sometime before 1920, using Pisco (a grape spirit from the Peruvian town of the same name), sugar, lime juice- a take on the classic sour- Pisco for Whiskey, lime for lemon. However it wasn't until a few years later (middle 1920s) that Mario Bruiget, working in Morris' Bar, perfected the recipe by adding egg white and bitters, the version that continues to be popular today.
Like any great drink, controversy swirls, and many Chileans site evidence that, in fact they can claim its origins. Countries battling aside, historians seem to lean toward Peru, and as far as I can tell so do all bartenders that I know.
Where better to have a Pisco Sour than at the source, or at least as close as we can get in town? I headed over to the terrific Peruvian restaurant in Somerville's Union Square, Restaurante Turistico Machupicchu, a completely authentic, family operation owned by Rosy and Hugo Cerna. Between shifts can often be a pleasant down time for restaurant employees, I most likely would be the last person anyone would care to see. However, Carlos Yamo, from the western coastal town of Chiclayo, about 450 miles north of Lima, greeted me as warmly as an old friend. He poured the traditional version, adding some customers do like it sweeter and cinnamon can be added instead of bittters- which he gladly will accommodate. He made me a delicious version with Pisco Portón- the category equivalent quality of a fine single malt scotch. What a treat to have a traditional cocktail in a space where Boston seemingly drifted away- with a soccer match on in the background, a wonderful lighted picture box of Machu Picchu behind the bar and gracious, friendly service.
If you can't stop by this weekend, do so soon for live music, ceviche and of course a Pisco Sour. Salud!
Pisco Portón is a called a mosto verde pisco- distilled from partially fermented grape juice. Because of an incomplete fermentation, slightly higher sugar content remains. The resulting distillation creates a smooth, elegant, full bodied character. What this really means it's delicious straight too! Rich and malty, with tropical fruit flavors, 43% ABV, about $40.
The French 75 is one of my favorite drinks- citrusy, a hint of sweetness, juniper and effervescent - delicious. In 1915 Harry MacElhone created a mix of gin, Champagne, lemon juice and sugar behind the stick at his famous Parisian Harry's New York Bar. The 'kick' of the drink was likened to being shelled by the French 75mm field artillery gun, and the name stuck. Original printed recipes use gin, but there is some debate that the drink is Cognac based (I'm sticking with the 1930 version printed first in the Savoy Cocktail Book).
Great cocktails are all around us, and not just at the very visible well regarded bars. It's certainly a great time to be drinking in Boston. Surprising places, that fly under the radar, have commitment to fresh ingredients and care in their drinks. So, speaking of the French 75, Haru restaurant on Huntington Avenue is celebrating the New Year with a Japanese-French hybrid, their Yuzu French 75. Best part? They will be pouring it through February for only $7- now that's an alliance I can get behind.
Yuzu French 75 1.5 oz Bombay Sapphire, .5 oz lemon juice, .5 oz simple syrup, .25 oz pure yuzu juice (East Asian citrus akin to sour mandarin- looks a bit like a small grapefruit), Champagne float, lemon peel garnish.
Mariposa in Spanish is butterfly. Indeed the liqueur kind of flutters (sorry) around the idea of Tequila being made from Tequila, Vodka, agave and rose water. Even the bottle is softer. Purists might find issue here, but I have to say that it is well made and tasty (Heaven Hill Distillery also makes Lunazul Tequila, Rittenhouse Rye and Elijah Craig Bourbon).
Non-cloying sweetness, spicy floral, almost orange peel citrus notes makes it a good substitute for Curacao or other orange liqueurs.
Enter the lovely Erin Surprenant: Tequila and all-things-agave lover, also happens to fittingly be the general manager of Masa in the South End. Who better to drink Mariposa cocktails with? I suggested an ounce of Mariposa with sparkling wine; her staff split 50-50 on it, the results coming down to personal preference. I better leave this up to Erin.
Below is their standby Margarita, which precedes her time; and then a new creation which has a wonderful seasonal, fall take. A spicy, cool weather Tequila cocktail? Yes, please.
Troy Clarke and Elizabeth Powell are helping redefine the hotel bar at Artbar in Cambridge; to call your seasonal drink menu "Artbar Fall Canvas" is ambitious, to succeed is dramatic. For the cocktail adventurous, tucked in the northern side of the Royal Sonesta Hotel, this place is, I'm telling you, worth a trip.
What I think I like most though, is the fact that you can find a cocktail geek sitting next to a business traveler (or guy like me) drinking a Corona. Now, that's New England hospitality.
Try these from the Paint Box:
I can count the days of summer remaining on one hand, so I'm going to keep pretending. Rob Macey at Area Four in Kendall Square decided to barrel age a perfect summer spirit- Cachaca, the Brazilian sugar-cane based, rum-like distillate. Rob happened to get a hold of a used Bourbon barrel from Hudson Valley and let the spirit sit inside for a month. By itself, even a high quality one like the Ypioca he uses is a bit rough and tumble; it benefits considerably from the process. Softer, it shows spice and vanilla from the wood.
His late summer sipper is the Ay Caramba:
1.5oz Ypioca Barrel aged Cachaca
.75oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth
.5oz Luxardo Triplum (orange liqueur)
.25oz fresh lime juice
The result is a citrus (even creamcicle like?) honeyed cooler, perfect as I sat with Emma (Trina's Starlite Lounge) and chatted with Michele working the floor and Rob graciously behind the bar. It was almost like a weekend in July- I somehow even convinced pastry chef Katie Kimble to stay for a few, even though she'd been working since 5:30am.
Get it while it lasts, Rob thinks maybe only until a couple weeks into October. But that's after Summer is officially over, so maybe more than an illusion, we really can keep it going.
In Brookline, at Lineage, I am not surprised to find great seafood courtesy of chef/owner Jeremy Sewell (also Executive Chef and co-owner of ICOB and Executive Chef of Eastern Standard) and Chef du Cuisine Rich Morin. Nor am I surprised to discover a wonderful, professional staff and wine program led by Amy Audette.
The added bonus?
Great cocktails thanks to Brendan Pratt, mentored by Ryan Lotz (now at Hawthorne) who revamped the program over a year ago. Brendan is continuing to run with it. I asked for his favorite drink of the moment and he reached back to a friendly cocktail competition with Ryan.
Brendan filled me in on some details:
“Amy said she wanted a cocktail and we both had to make her one that was completely new and original. I don't remember who won, but I do remember that we were all pleasantly surprised with how mine came out, given the seemingly random batch of ingredients I threw together. Honestly, I came up with that early version of the drink because we had a bottle of Plymouth Sloe Gin behind the bar that we hardly ever touched, so I decided the give it a try. The second ingredient I knew I wanted in the cocktail was Campari, which is one of my favorites. The rest of the ingredients I threw in to up the alcohol and smooth everything out.”
Necessity and love of a good Negroni are, clearly, the mother of invention.
1.5 ounces Beefeater Gin
0.75 ounce Campari
0.5 ounce Plymouth Sloe Gin
Barspoon Royal Combier
2 Dashes of Regan's Orange Bitters
Stir ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled rocks glass. Squeeze all of the oil out of a large grapefruit twist, rub the used twist around the rim of the glass, and discard the twist.
Brendan gives Ryan a lot of credit for this drink, loving his addition of the grapefruit peel instead of orange giving it an extra “pop." Brendan had the nickname “Moses” from both staff and regulars, so it only made sense for Ryan to name the drink appropriately.
Next time you're in Brookline looking for a bite and drink, don't be surprised- you now know where to go.