For the past decade, Extreme Beer Fest in Boston has been the spot to snag the strangest, rarest, and most innovative beers from around the world. Here are the 10 weirdest, awesomest beers we tried.
'Boston' on Serious Eats
For nineteen years—long before every magazine was telling us that "hard cider is easy choice for fall"—farmers and cider makers in western Massachusetts have gathered to celebrate autumn and their region's long relationship with apples. Originally a small harvest festival for local producer West County Cider, CiderDays has grown into the most recognized cider event in the United States.
Determined to find the tastiest and most creative Bloody Marys here in Boston, I penciled in a couple of weekends worth of boozy brunches, and set out to sacrifice myself for the cause.
When your normal beat is geeking out on snack chips, it's a breath of fresh air (and...uh...fresh breath) to be asked to investigate romantic spots to sip cocktails. I've been living, drinking, and dating in Boston for a few years now and have gathered quite a bit of on-the-ground intel on where it's best to bring a date. Each of these cocktail destinations offers warm lighting, plenty of cozy seating for two, and most importantly, top-notch drinks.
Next up in our "Where Bartenders Drink" series? Boston. The area has more than its share of faux-Irish pubs, Sox/Patriots sports bars, and campus-adjacent underage drinker targets—but you can get fantastic cocktails in this town, too, or find a place to try beers you've never heard of. We asked eight Boston bartenders where they drink; here are their picks around the city (with lots of Cambridge, Somerville, and Allston, too).
Beef cheeks are braised until meltingly tender, the rich liquid enhanced by the rendered fat from the beef. If you're lucky, you'll get there on a day when they couple the beef cheeks with a few chunks of corned beef tongue. Tiny cubes of potatoes, turnips, celery root, squash, and onions are roasted until deeply browned, and the whole mess is topped with a perfectly poached egg.
Making its debut appearance this past weekend, Drink Craft Beer's Summerfest was a community celebration of New England's best summer-friendly craft beer, from farmhouse ales and saisons to witbiers and sours.
Modern beer drinkers may associate Boston with the Boston Beer Company and Samuel Adams, but beer has been an important part of the city's identity since its earliest days—and it's been home to more than one eponymous beer company.
I first encountered salep shortly after stepping off the plane in Istanbul, when I emerged from the metro into the touristy area surrounding the Blue Mosque. It was unusually cold outside—snowing, even—when I visited, so when I noticed a street vendor ladling a steaming, unfamiliar-looking beverage into cups for fellow tourists, I promptly joined the line. Not quite knowing what I was purchasing, I nevertheless felt sure I was in for something good, as my nose detected notes of vanilla, cinnamon, and something I couldn't recognize. With my first sip, I was hooked: the drink was sweet, creamy, and complex-tasting, and for the remainder of my trip, I treated myself to a hot cup each night.
Sour cherry fans will go wild for this. It's like sipping pie filling through a straw, except that the iced tea gives it a cleaner, more refreshing finish and mellows the sweetness.
We're here to take a look at The Hawthorne, the first bar in which barman Jackson Cannon actually has a personal stake as proprietor. His partner is Garrett Harker of Eastern Standard and Island Creek Oyster bar. We asked Cannon to share five recipes with us from their menu, which focuses largely on stripped down, updated classics.
The production that goes into making eggnog at my family's holiday party each year is such a ritual that it's borderline sacred, and buying eggnog is considered sacrilege. So forgive me, family, for I have sinned. But when I saw that High Lawn, the Lee, Massachusetts dairy farm that produces some of the most widely available premium milk in the Boston area, had gotten into the eggnog game, I figured it was worth a try.
Hangover Helper: Jalapeno Chicken Sausage, Black Bean, and Egg Flatbread at Tory Row in Cambridge, MA
There are several nice egg options, but my current favorite when I've got some cobwebs to clear is the jalapeño chicken sausage, black bean, and scrambled egg flatbread with Vermont cheddar and pico de gallo ($9). Doesn't that sound at once filling, fog-cutting, and borderline healthyish? It certainly feels like all of those things early on a Sunday afternoon.
Although Bully Boy Distillery's official unveiling to the Boston public was just a month ago, the brand of spirits sure is burgeoning. Will and Dave Willis (yep, they're brothers) work in a small, shiny warehouse in the Newmarket district of Roxbury, Massachusetts, doing everything from selecting the organic wheat to hand-labeling each and every bottle.
Ted Kilpatrick helms the bar program at No. 9 Park and has set his sights on pushing the limits of drinks that function alongside the fine dining menu. "Over the last year or so, I've been trying to get each menu a little more aggressive than the one before it," he said. He's well-versed in the classics, but Kilpatrick has a penchant for modern twists, as his summer drink menu makes apparent.
Everyone knows about the terrific sandwiches at Cutty's. What doesn't get the chatter it deserves is the limeade. Maybe most versions aren't bad, but a limeade that nails the sweet-tangy balance is strangely elusive. I imagine most of what makes or breaks any limeade is all in the proportions, but owner Charles Kelsey has a few tricks that make his stand out.
Green's Street Big [Cocktail] List runs the gamut from the Colonial period through the Golden Age right up to the modern moment. It's a wonderland, an imbiber's amusement park with too many rides to explore in a month, let alone a weekend.
The ginger base consists of two components, raw and cooked. For the former he combines fresh lime juice, lemon juice, ginger juice, and pineapple juice; for the latter, he simmers ginger pulp extracted from the juicing step, cinnamon, clove, and cardamom for half an hour and strains the mixture. Then he combines the two parts, dilutes the mixture with water to the proper concentration, and carbonates it by putting it into a soda siphon.
Sherbets and sorbets require a spoon, but they date back to the Persian Empire, when vividly flavored fruit- or flower-based syrups were mixed with snow to make a cool, refreshing drink called sharbat.