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).
Before I get into why this is the best pasteurized milk I've ever had, I should backtrack and say that I love raw milk and have long been a fan of Mermaid Farm, which for years was Martha's Vineyard's lone source of unpasteurized milk. But the pasteurized milk that Grey Barn and Farm proprietors Eric and Molly Glasgow and their herd of Dutch belted cows are producing in Chilmark, MA is astonishingly good.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Healy moves his small heard of cows back and forth between Mermaid Farm and a nearby field, where the ladies have more space to roam and graze. I always figure that it's this variety in the cows' diet—plus the time of year and the lack of pasteurization—that's responsible for the subtle flavor differences in the milk from batch to batch. Sometimes the rich, nutty cream flavor is more forward; other times there's a mellow sweetness, as if a few drops of honey dripped into the bottle.
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.
I spotted my first crocus of the season last week and knew exactly what I had to do next: get to Burdick's for an iced hot chocolate.
Quieter nights tend to attract more serious cocktail geeks, and that's when I encourage you to go. For although it has been joined since its opening by some fantastic places in the top tier, Drink remains the sine qua non of craft cocktails in Boston, the single best place to explore the near-infinite richness of the craft cocktail world.
Straddling the Cambridge-Somerville line, Trina's Starlight Lounge seemed to come with a bar full of neighborhood regulars when they opened in the fall of 2009. It quickly became the post-shift living room for industry folk. You would be well-served to order one of the craft cocktails, such as the Inmanhattan ($9).
Hugh Reynolds of Temple Bar in Cambridge uncorked his first batch of Negronis in October. Into the cask goes gin, campari, and sweet vermouth. Over a couple of weeks the cocktail transforms into a rounder, smoother, extremely drinkable version of itself.
Jackson Cannon of Eastern Standard and Island Creek Oyster Bar in Boston describes the Jack Rose as "a lost classic." Constructed with house-made grenadine, Laird's Applejack, a bit of lemon, and a dash of Peychaud's bitters, it's spirit forward with a refreshing fruity undercurrent.
American rye, gin, applejack, cognac? Interesting vermouths, bitters, monastery cordials and housemade Swedish punsch? Smoked ice? Barely a jigger of vodka anywhere? Hallelujah! At Clio, Todd Maul works more cleverly with cane spirits than many bars that boast about them.