1. Still bartending.
Nearly 4 years after my first night as a professional bartender, I am still following this career path. March 2017 will make two years at Loyal Nine where I have been the lead bartender since July 2015. There is not too much new to say, but I included this aspect in the previous 3 years of roundups, so why not once again? I am still keeping on focusing on providing good guest experiences as well as creating new recipes that I'll mention later down below.
2. Expanded my voice.
This year saw me teaching my first class (actually two that night) at the Boston Center for the Arts in May on the Margarita and tequila in general based on my travels to Mexico (see 3rd photo below). Moreover, I started writing a monthly column for the USBG national site as well as hopefully the first of many articles for Edible Boston starting with this one on Turkey Shore Distillery's Old Ipswich Rum. Finally, I was also asked to host Reddit's /r/cocktails' first Ask Me Anything in November.
Perhaps one of the biggest bartending honors for me was having Loyal Nine being one of the 12 bars involved in Cocktail Magic, besides the 3 traveling bars, we were one of the 9 bars chosen from Boston. For Boston Thirst this year, I was also selected to head up a Blender Bender team where our sponsor was Angostura. We made good use of their portfolio with including their amaro, rum, and bitters in our drink, and we contributed to a great deal of brainfreeze that night (see photo above). Early in the year, I was a guest bartender for Wink & Nod's Tiki Monday nights bringing four of my recipes from different parts of my drink creating eras to the masses. And I am still the lead cat herder for Mixology Monday which just did its 114th online cocktail party of sorts.
I started my year off with being chosen for an USBG-sponsored trip to Mexico to tour the Patron distillery and experience a taste of Guadalajara. It was a bit of a whirlwind trip for I left to the airport after closing the bar on a Sunday night, flew out early Monday morning and returned Wednesday evening. I should say luckily returned since the airline wanted to send me to Houston since there was no plane to send me to Dallas (which would get me to Boston). I opted to wait for a plane to Dallas in hopes of making it home to open the bar on Thursday. Everything came through with about 30 minutes to spare, but I did miss my chance to visit bars in Dallas and Houston! I also went down to New Orleans for my 5th Tales of the Cocktail. I wrote up my best moments from that trip after attending 12 seminars, a bunch of parties, and a handful of bars. See the rest of the shenanigans and talk notes here. Soon, I will be traveling again in about two weeks to Louisville as I was selected to be a steward for the American Craft Spirits Association competition!
I got interviewed for the U.S. Bartender Guild site thanks to my column writing and other participation there, and Doug Winship wrote up my role in blogging as a means to show how Tiki has come to a forefront. My interest in low proof cocktails got me press in both WGBH and Boston Magazine. My Hot Buttered Malört got some talk in Chicago, and our menu's Blood of the Kapu Tiki (neo-classic Tiki recipe crafted by Bosko) found me running off to photoshoots for the Improper Bostonian and Boston Magazine. I was included in Server Not Servant's 64 Suggestions for Bartenders advice post, and my thoughts on seasonal drinking were included in Boston Common for summer and Tales of the Cocktail for fall. Finally, my Tainted Love recipe was Del Maguey Mezcal's drink of November.
6. Appeared in books.
My hangover cure made it into Lou Bustamante's Complete Cocktail Manual; sadly, I missed the call to get other recipes in there. My Colleen Bawn Knickebein got printed in Gaz Regan's 101 Cocktails of 2016; I actually submitted that recipe for his call for poussé-cafe recipes, but since I was the only one who responded, he slid my entry towards that book. While I mentioned it last year, I finally got to read the part about my Fireball Fizz in Matt Rowley's Lost Recipes of Prohibition. I believe that my contribution to the Oxford Companion to Cocktail and Spirits should be out in 2017.
While I enjoyed staying in my comfort zone of familiar haunts and bartenders, there were a lot of new places to check out (some of which had familiar bartenders as well). Here it Boston, I got to welcome to the city Sichuan Garden II's Baldwin & Sons Trading Co. (their second bar in the same building), Bar Mezzana, The Automatic, and Area Four Ink Block; I also made my first visits to Mooo and Short & Main (Gloucester). In New Orleans, I got to try out the pisco bar at the new Catahoula Hotel as well as being shown the legendary dive bar The Dungeon.
8. Created some drinks.
It was a decently prolific year with 33 posts about new drinks and many others that never made the blog. If I were to narrow it down, here are my 5 favorites from this year:
• Dakkar Grotto, a funky and grassy Daiquiri riff.
• Mount Pelée, an agricole and apricot number inspired by Martin Cate and John Gertsen.
• Intercept, my cross between a Slope and a Boulevardier that someone on Instagram declared had a "legacy drink feel."
• Hey Heywood!, inspired by the Hoop La also know in the Savoy Cocktail Book as the Hey Hey!
• Town Crier, my tribute to a neighborhood local. A drink influenced by New Orleans recipes and served at Cocktail Magic this year.
I finished 27 books this year that included books on whiskey, rum, agave, Genever, vermouth, beer, Japanese bartending, cocktail history, distilling history, food flavor history and theory, booze science, bartending advice, Tiki, Prohibition, the Manhattan, and other topics. My reading schedule for next year might be slowed down now that a lot of my free time is being spent writing, but hopefully I will rebound with a vengeance once that project is over with. If I were to narrow the books to a few:
• Robert Simonson's A Proper Drink
• Martin & Rebecca Cate's Smuggler's Cove
• Barbara Stuckey's Taste What You're Missing
• Matt Rowley's Lost Recipes of Prohibition
• Brian Hoefling's Distilled Knowledge
10. Random thoughts.
In June, I hit a milestone of 8 years of blogging (10 years of cocktail writing in July) and I am finishing up the year with about 470 posts for 2017. My Instagram efforts are still going strong with nearly 3000 followers. And there is consideration of a second book to tie together the last 4 1/2 or 5 years since the first book came out. We'll see what 2017 brings!