All pictures in this post are credit: Sarah Lohman.
Barsmarts Party Continued: the Drinks. Here are a few of the more interesting drinks I made at the party, and some of the reviews I got from the guests.
- Blood and Sand. Equal parts OJ, Chivas Regal Scotch, sweet vermouth, and Cherry Heering, shaken over ice and strained into a martini glass. Cherry Heering is a heavily sweetened cherry flavored brandy, that I certainly would never drink on its own, but might be usable as a dessert drink/digestiff paired with the right meal. While the ingredients sound somewhat intimidating, the drink was actually quite pleasant, and most people enjoyed it. I found it has something of a heavy syrupy aftertaste that wasn't so great, but mileage varied.
- Caipirinha. A traditional Brazilian drink that's fun to make and strong as hell. Half a lime muddled into an ounce of simple syrup, topped with two ounces of cachaca. Cachaca is similar to rum, but apparently you can't say that to a Brazilian. It is fermented sugar cane juice, generally unaged, and has a much funkier aroma than the sort of Puerto Rican rums we're used to. The Caipirinha is the traditional way to drink cachaca, the drink is assembled and then either shaken or stirred over ice.
- The Cosmopolitan. The drink that made Dale Degroff and the Rainbow Room famous (though he modestly claims not to be the inventor of the drink, only its standardizer). Citrus vodka, cranberry juice, lime juice, cointreau, shaken and strained into a cocktail glass. The drink itself is pretty well known these days, and is most remarkable for the traditional flourish: a flamed orange peel. Fresh citrus peel, cut from the fruit right before you use it, has a ton of oil in it. Many drinks are finished with a spray of this oil from the cut "twist." The cosmo has you flame this oil by squeezing it through a lit match, causing a flash of light and all the girls around the bar to go "ooh, what was that?" Which, as far as I can tell, is the purpose of the flamed twist, because I don't think incinerated citrus oil can be adding that much to the drink itself.
- Manhattan. The drink as described in my book isn't that interesting, but is a delicious classic: 2:1 bourbon or rye:sweet vermouth plus a dash of bitters, shaken and strained into a cocktail glass with a cherry. The variant I make based on information from Dave Wondrich's book Imbibe is a huge hit--here a barspoonful of Maraschino liqueur and a few dashes of absinthe are added, and the cherry is omitted. Makes a wonderfully spicy and complex drink.
- Pisco Sour. Pisco is a distilled liquor from Peru, made from grapes but unaged. The traditional drink for it is the sour, which is 2:1:1 pisco to simple syrup to lime juice, a few dashes of bitters, and one egg white. You have to shake the bejeesus out of these. The first one I made wasn't completely homogenized, but the creaminess of the second was highly regarded.
19th Century Pub Crawl. This was the third in the series organized by my sister and the 19th century historical society. The first was in NYC, the second in Cleveland, and now Boston. Victorian dress was encouraged but not required, and a number of people did dress up, myself included. I am in fact now clean shaven for the first time in two years, as I decided that the mutton chops I was sporting on Saturday were not ideal for the job interview I have on Wednesday. Pictures from the event can be found here: http://www.flickr.com/groups/
- Eastern Standard. Our first stop was Eastern Standard who worked with my sister to give us a great start to the night. We had our own reserved area, a lovely menu, and complimentary appetizers. The drinks were 19th century classics, and included their version of the classic Cocktail (rye, sugar, bitters, stirred and served over ice); the Martinez (Old Tom Gin and dry vermouth in a 1:1 proportion, plus maraschino liqueur and orange bitters); the Ward Eight, a drink invented here in Boston; the Japanese cocktail, a concoction of brandy and lime juice invented by "the Professor" Jerry Thomas to commemorate the arrival of the first Japanese ambassador to America, and the Frisco, Rye and benedictine with lemon. I had a Japanese cocktail and a Martinez and enjoyed both, but actually found the Martinez a bit sweet for my tastes.
- Red Hat. The Red Had has been open for more than 100 years, and is right next to government Center. The drinks list is a lot more...we'll say, "pitchers of mudslides" than the Eastern Standard, but the charm is in the location. The bar is restored original, the walls have these really cool murals of Boston circa 1900, and it all and all was a nice place to drink. Below is me pictured with the other sporters of 19th century facial hair indicating the "Gentlemen's" room at Red Hat.
- Union Oyster House. The oldest continually operating bar and restaurant in America. When we showed up, the bartender looked terrified and ran to get the bar manager. He at first told us he didn't know about any bar crawl event and interrogated me on our sobriety level. Once he realized we were just a bunch of tipsy nerds, he welcomed us in and let us proceed. Again, the drinks were not the highlight and no one felt like eating oysters, but its another great bar right downtown, and was actually pretty uncrowded. When I asked the bartender if he had Jim Beam Rye for a Manhattan, he said "I got Jim Beam whatever, I dunno, whatever kind we have." So, when Jim Beam Rye is an exotic drink component, you know their are no mixologists on duty. Still, a nice stop on the crawl.
- Drink. We skipped the fourth official stop on the list, the Bell in Hand Tavern, as there was a line full of preppy clubgoers around the block, so we headed right over to Drink, which is flat out one of the best bars in Boston. Drink only vaguely knew to expect us, and is a very busy club. The doorman was super nice, though warning us it might take 45 minutes to get in, he and the barmaster actually got all 12 of us remaining into the bar in 15 minutes, got drinks in all our hands, and even finished the night by making us the most elaborate set of shots I have ever seen produced, requiring three bartenders and a multi page document, raw eggs, whipped cream, and four part instructions for consuming them ending in bursting the egg yolk in your mouth. I also had another Martinez, here made with Boll's genever, a much maltier style of gin than the old tom, and it tasted like a fabulous boozy cookie.