Thursday, April 17, 2014

poppin' tags

1 oz Beefeater Gin
1 oz Campari
1 oz Kronan Swedish Punsch
1 oz Orange Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a Collins glass. Top with ice and ~3 oz soda water, and garnish with an orange twist.

One of the new drinks on the Russell House Tavern is the Poppin' Tags created by Caleb Linton. In his beta testing days, he was dubbing this "Negroni Juice" as an easy drinking variation on an Americano or Negroni. The Swedish Punsch provides the extra botanicals, sweetness, and depth that sweet vermouth would otherwise provide, and orange juice along with the soda water help to smooth out the Campari to make this even more refreshing. There is the possibility that Caleb was also influenced by State Park where he has requested Campari Highballs with orange soda off of the soda gun. Bar manager Sam Gabrielli loved the recipe but switch the name for the menu; Sam paid tribute to how Caleb's resemblance to Macklemore has been mentioned by various people, and he named it the Poppin' Tags after Macklemore's Thrift Store song. Caleb may violently glare at you if you mention the resemblance though.
The Poppin' Tags began with an orange oil nose that was accented by the Campari. A carbonated orange juice sip led into gin, Campari, and the Punsch's tea flavors on the swallow. Overall, this is an Americano variation perfect for the upcoming warm weather patio season.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


3/4 oz Cold River Gin
1/2 oz Amaro Nonino
1/2 oz Earl Grey Tea Syrup
1/4 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a flute glass. Top with ~3 oz Lambise Belgian Lambic.
A few Tuesdays ago, Andrea and I were in Central Square, and we headed over to Craigie on Main for a nightcap where bartenders Ann Thompson and Jack Styczynski were behind the bar. For a drink, I asked Ann for the Apparition, a beer cocktail created by beverage director Jared Sadoian. Once prepared, it offered juniper and bergamot aromas from the gin and Earl Grey tea syrup, respectively; over time, the nose gained funk notes from the beer that worked rather well with the orangy ones from the tea. Next, the sip shared carbonated caramel and malty flavors with a lot of body and mouthfeel, and the swallow began with gin followed by herbal notes and a bergamot finish.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

[queen's slipper]

1 oz Smith & Cross Rum
1 oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
1/2 oz Nux Alpina Walnut Liqueur
1/2 oz Averna

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Twist an orange peel over the top.
For a second drink at the Baldwin Bar in Woburn's Sichuan Garden II, Ran asked if I wanted "something weird" that he had been working on. While it lacked a name, I dubbed it the "Queen's Slipper," a name of an Australian playing card brand as a follow up to the Pair of Queens drink (and because the Smith & Cross does add some funk). Once mixed, it offered an orange oil, grape, and Jamaican rum funk to the nose. Next, the sip was mostly about the Carpano Antica's robust grape notes, and the swallow's flavor highlight was how well the Smith & Cross funk melded with the Averna and walnut for an earthy finish.

Monday, April 14, 2014

pair of queens

1 1/2 oz Bulleit Rye
3/4 oz Ramazzotti Amaro
1/2 oz Lustau Amontillado Sherry
1/4 oz Fraise de Bois

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist-cherry flag.

A few Sundays ago, we made the trek up to Woburn to have dinner at Sichuan Garden II. There, bartenders Ran Duan and Vannaluck Hongthong welcomed us and found us a pair of seats at the end of the bar. When I spotted the Pair of Queens on the drink menu, I figured that if it was good enough to propel Ran into the Northeast regional finals for Diageo's World Class competition, it would be a good enough place to start. Wish Ran good luck for the next stage of the competition is April 23!
Once Ran made his drink, it greeted me with a orange oil aroma that brightened the darker notes from the Ramazzotti and Luxardo cherry. Next, the sherry and amaro provided a grape and caramel sip, and finally, the swallow shared the rye flavors, the sherry's nuttiness, and a dark fruit note from a combination of the sherry, Ramazzotti, and wild strawberry liqueur.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

:: twelve buzz-worthy boston bartenders ::

MC Slim JB bestowed a great honor by including me in his article Pouring Reign: Twelve Buzz-worthy Boston Bartenders Spill All in the Improper Bostonian. The magazine itself comes out Monday but the online version came out last night! Check out the link for the interviews and the photos of myself and 11 other Boston bartenders who Slim picked out, but here are some of the interview questions that ended up on the cutting room floor (or were greatly abridged):

Measure or free-pour?
I originally thought I was only going to jigger everything, but after working a few busy brunches, I got tired of the amount of washing it took to get all traces of serrano pepper-infused mezcal that we use in our Mezcal Mary out of a jigger. I tested out my free pour, and my count is pretty solid for a 2 ounce pour. I will not free pour for anything other than simple drinks like Highballs and Bloody Marys though.

Most annoying customer behavior?
Impatience, feelings of entitlement, and lack of sense of humor when things get busy. If guests want a more perfect experience, they should go on the off hours and slower nights. Then again, that suggestion would fall on deaf ears to those types.

What’s the best day of the week and time of day for a customer to engage you in a leisurely, educational five-minute conversation about drinks?
Lately, I work mostly day shifts during the week that only can get busy during the lunch burst and the pre-dinner rush. Still, I can generally find time to talk to guests at length save for some Fridays, holidays, and brunch shifts, especially if they are fine with interruptions as I attend to drink tickets and other guests. (Postnote: since I did the interview, I gained a semi-regular Wednesday night 6-10pm shift -- check the OnTheBar app for confirmation.)

What’s your typical end-of-shift drink?
When I have worked nights, it has been Fernet Branca and/or a shift beer from our bottle and cans collection. During the day, my shift drinks have to be done elsewhere. Often, I just wait until I get home, but on a bad day, it's often stopping in somewhere close by or on the way home for a beer unless I can think of an out of the way place that has a new cocktail on their menu to check out for the blog.

Dr. Bartender, what’s the best cure for my hangover?
For settling the stomach, ginger beer or Angostura Bitters works well, as does dried candied ginger. For the headache, Advil and coffee will be your friend. Getting fluids is key, but water alone will not provide the lost electrolytes. I am a fan of toughing it out, but if the malaise cannot be shaken by mid-afternoon, sometimes a single drink can even things out.

What bartender or bar manager, currently working or retired, is your first-ballot lock for entry into Boston’s Bartending Hall of Fame?
John Gertsen for having a vision and enacting on it to elevate Boston’s stature in the cocktail world, and Josh Childs for showing that keeping it simple and focusing on warmth and hospitality is just as important as what is in the glass if not more so.

Offer a sentence or two of advice to aspiring bartenders:
Two sayings that stick in my head are Sam Treadway's "Bartending is about watering down spirits and babysitting adults" and John Gertsen’s "If you know where everything lives and know how to smile, you'll be a great bartender." Both of those sayings remove the ego-driven ideals that plague a lot of bartenders, for a great bartender is one that makes the guests feel special and not one that reinforces the idea that the bartender is the star. And lastly, always keep learning. Read, taste, discuss. And know when guests just want a drink instead of even a hint of pleasantries much less a lecture.

Say a few words about your most influential bartending mentor; name them if you like, too:
I would be remiss if I did not name Sam Gabrielli who helped shape me from a restaurant industry newbie into a bartender. I am also thankful for fellow bartender Adam Hockman; when I have complained about certain situations, instead of just giving me a "that sucks" reply, he offers solid advice gathered from his years of experience behind the stick.

What's the most surprisingly useful life skill that bartending has taught you?
Always be closing. Bartending is a job that relies on salesmanship, and less about glorified ideals. Success at previous jobs meant completing projects by a deadline, but that was not tied to my salary which was pretty much fixed. One of the barbacks agreed that learning to close is an important life skill, whether for money or for romance, that should be learned as early in life as possible. Indeed, the movie Glengarry Glen Ross has taught me that coffee’s for closers.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

d.c. flip

3/4 oz Plantation 3 Star Silver Rum
3/4 oz Old Monk Rum
1/2 oz Velvet Falernum
3/4 oz Cocchi Americano Rosa
1/2 oz Grenadine
1 Egg

Shake once without ice and once with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass, twist an orange peel over the top, and garnish with freshly grated cinnamon.
For my final drink at West Bridge, I requested the D.C. Flip from bartender Chris Danforth for I had not had an egg drink in quite a while. Chris described how the Flip as a collaborative effort of a few of the bartenders; moreover, he explained that the "D.C." stands for District of Columbia as a riff on the El Presidente. Once prepared, the D.C. Flip greeted the nose with orange oil and cinnamon notes. A creamy sip shared fruit flavors from the grenadine and Cocchi Americano Rosa, and it led into a rum, clove spice, and lime swallow. Over time, the cinnamon from the garnish entered into the flavor profile on the finish.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


1 oz Tanqueray Gin
1 oz Dimmi Liqueur
1 oz Amaro del Capo
1 oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Twist a lemon over the top.
For Andrea's first drink at West Bridge, she asked bartender Chris Danforth for the Blow-Up. Chris described how it was a creation of bartender Mike Fleming, but I neglected to ask if it was named after the late 1960s film. Once mixed, the Blow-Up shared a lemon aroma that led into a grape sip with bright citrus notes. Next, the swallow offered the gin followed by the amaro's caramel giving way to an herbal and menthol finish. Indeed, Andrea commented how this drink would make for a perfect aperitif.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

an end to feral days

1 1/2 oz Avuá Amburana Aged Cachaça
1/2 oz Lustau East India Sherry
1/2 oz Amaro del Capo
1/2 oz Averna
2 dash Mole Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a coupe glass.
Two Wednesdays ago after my double shift, I met up with Andrea at West Bridge for a drink. The cocktail that I requested from bartender Chris Danforth was the An End to Feral Days. Chris described how this was his drink and how the cachaça aged in amburana wood gave an interesting spice and smoothness that made it easier for mixing in straight spirits drinks instead of needing to resort to the more common citrus-driven ones. Once mixed, the An End to Feral Days offered a funky grass aroma with dark herbal notes. A grape and caramel sip led into a funky grass and grape swallow with minty and herbal accents.

Monday, April 7, 2014

laughing boy

1 1/2 oz Plantation Barbados 5 Year Rum
1/2 oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
1/2 oz Fernet Branca
1/2 oz Amaro Meletti
1 dash House Aromatic Bitters
1 dash House Orange Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass with a large cube. Garnish the ice cube with a pinch of salt and garnish the drink with a lemon twist.

Two Mondays ago, we stopped into Deep Ellum for dinner. For a cocktail, I selected the Laughing Boy which just appeared on their menu. The pairing of Fernet Branca and Meletti stood out for it is one that bar owner Max Toste rather enjoys, and the drink did remind me of the one I dubbed the Brooklyn Roasting Company. Instead of coffee notes in that one, this one had sweet vermouth and utilized the salt on the ice cube trick made famous in the Little Giuseppe.
The Laughing Boy offered lemon oil aroma over that of aged rum notes. A caramel sip from the amaros gave way to the dark rum on the beginning of the swallow. Finally, the swallow finished with a medley of herbal, menthol, and floral notes that were softened as the ice melt brought salt into the mix.