Thursday, December 30, 2010

:: fred's top 10 cocktail moments of 2010 ::

I was recently asked what my favorite drink of 2010 was, and in pondering it, I began to think about the year in general. I might have a problem narrowing down my choices for a best drink overall, but I can definitely narrow it down to best drink out and best drink at home for each month. I will save that list for tomorrow, as I figured that I should start with a re-cap of my year. These are numbered but not in any particular order, and I am sure that I missed plenty as I reflected over the last few days.

1. The Chee Hoo Fizz Story
Randy Wong, beside creating Tiki recipes, travels around the country as the bassist and band leader for the Waitiki 7 exotica band. When he was in Atlanta, he got to talking to a bartender about Tiki drinks. Soon the bartender wanted to make him a drink, namely the Chee Hoo Fizz, which surprised and amused Randy greatly. Turns out that the bartender reads this blog and unknowingly made the drink for its creator. It is stories like these that make me realize that the blog is more than a drink diary but a disseminator of recipes and a way for Boston bartenders and their creativity to be acknowledged (without having to win a contest or other).

2. Bottling Day at the Bittermens
I got the chance to help out the Glassers for one of the Bittermens Bitters production runs. While my bitters batches are usually a quaint handful of bottles each, it was rather intriguing to see how things are done on a much larger scale done as well as properly in a commercial kitchen. Best wishes to their business (and new product releases) in 2011!

3. Interviewing Brian Rea
This year I was formally a writer for the Tales of the Cocktail blog. One of the duties was to pick a seminar and hype it through an interview or other writeup. I was really curious about hearing the life story of Brian Rea who had bartended through some of the bleakest decades of American mixology; however, I had never interviewed anyone before. Luckily, Brian made it easy and entertained me with his stories, so it was not stressful in the least after the first few seconds.

4. TDN: Bumwines!
During Mixoloseum's Thursday Drink Nights, I kept joking that the theme one week should be "Bumwines" to see what glorious cocktails could be made with wretched ingredients (akin to what Prohibition-era bartenders might have done). Finally, one week they took me seriously and asked if I would host it. Instead of people avoiding it, they embraced it with an enthusiasm; I was quite impressed that someone even mulled Wild Irish Rose and used it in a cocktail! While I produced a few with interesting names (like the Last Word variation, the Right to Remain Silent, using Berry-flavored Cisco), the most tasty resorted to a Prohibition trick -- using honey. My bright red Bee's Knees variation as a tribute to the Red Dye #40-colored bees in Brooklyn tasted pretty decent as the honey syrup smoothed over the horrid aftertaste of Berry Cisco.

5. Rum Tasting at Steve Remsberg
Right after Tales of the Cocktail was over, we had the privilege of attending a rum tasting at Steve Remsberg's house. It was Andrea's inquiries about Old New England Rum during the week that scored us the invitation, and she relays the story better than I. I think the pre-Castro Cuban Rum aged in sherry casks was the most memorable spirit to have hit my lips this year.

6. Bartender on Acid
One of the drinks I came up with at a Thursday Drink Night was a "revamped classic" of the Surfer on Acid, but switching the coconut rum and Jägermeister to Smith & Cross and Fernet-Branca, respectively. I come to find out that Drink in Fort Point heard about the recipe and made up a pitcher of it one night which completely sold out (apparently, it has gotten made other times as well). Perhaps that could make it my most influential drink of 2010, with the Stamos Gin Fizz being the winner of 2009 (download a PDF of drink cards that contain this recipe and others).

7. Hanging out at the Boston Shaker
When Adam Lantheaume re-opened up the Boston Shaker store in Davis Square, Andrea became his first employee. Her job had just ended and this opportunity provided her a good sabbatical. Over the months that Andrea worked there, I got the chance to hang out there and watch the business grow and succeed. Best wishes to Adam and the Boston Shaker in 2011!

8. Birthday Bar Crawl
Well, since Andrea was working at the Boston Shaker store on my birthday, I decided to celebrate on my lonesome by visiting Eastern Standard. Followed by Clio. And then meeting up with Andrea at Trina's Starlite Lounge. Many thanks to Hugh Fiore, Todd Maul, and Emma Hollander for making my birthday this year quite amazing.

9. Absinthe Bar Crawl
Speaking of bar crawls, we got invited on the Pernod Ricard Absinthe Bar Crawl. Beside the great food and drink at Stoddard's, Russell House Tavern, and Drink, the transportation in gangster era limousines capped off the night. That and a late night round of Rittenhouse 100 shots with the bartenders of Drink. Yeah, maybe I did not need that last shot, but it was well worth it later.

10. Wait, I need a number 10?
I will probably think of something crafty after I hit submit (sort of like the naming of this drink), but what can I say -- it has been a great year and this post is #400 for 2010. Between Tales of the Cocktail, local events like Bartenders on the Rise, attending a Cognac blending seminar, hosting Mixology Monday: Tea, and other zaniness, I guess having I am a little indecisive on how to wrap it up. One memory worth that comes to mind was a minor sense of accomplishment I experienced during Tales of the Cocktail. On Sunday night, we returned from a last visit to the Cure bar (post rum tasting). We bumped into Paul Clarke in front of the Monteleone, and we all decided to get a nightcap at the Carousel Bar. After a Vieux Carré and much slurring conversation, the carousel just stopped. Wow, we closed the Carousel Bar! While it was a pleasure to have the disorienting spinning cease, it was a symbolic moment that our adventure was over (save for us getting up a few hours later to catch an 8am flight out). So I guess there is a number 10 after all.


Devin said...

It was a true pleasure to be able to share a drink with you, Andrea and Paul at the Carousel bar on that last night of Tales. You guys, Adam and the Glassers were my shepherds on that ride. Cheers to another great year of posts, Fred!

frederic said...

Oops, I forgot to name drop you in the "we". Indeed, thanks for helping to make Tales what it was.

Alexander Kern said...

I have to say that I love what you said in item number one on this list. I live in Seattle and go to see Murray Stenson at the Zig Zag every Wednesday night and I would say a good third or more of the recipes I bring to him are from your blog. I think one of the best things about blogs like yours is that it provides new inspiration for all of us and the spreading of new ideas across the country or even the world can only be great for us all.

I only discovered your blog this past year, but you have a devoted fan for life. Thanks for all your hard work.

-Alex K

Unknown said...

Hello. My name is Miles Macquarrie and I am the Atlanta bartender that made the drink for Randy. That was certainly and amazing cocktail moment! You're blog is one that I check every day. Keep up the good work for 2011.

Sunday Cook said...

I am long-time reader of this blog and thank you (and your livers) for allowing me to visit Boston's best bars from the comfort of my living room and liquor cabinet.

I'm opening a restaurant in Newburyport, MA and am working on designing a house cocktail built around the history behind Old Newburyport Rum. Since you've tasted the original rum, I am curious as to whether you have any modern rums you can compare it to.

Thanks much and cin cin!

frederic said...

SC, I have tasted nothing like it, but in a cocktail, the differences would diminish.

If you want to keep it local, Thomas Tew from Rhode Island has some of the richness but finishes differently. Some of the other dark rums like Zaya might have similarities, but they're no match either.

Sunday Cook said...

Thanks for the pointers - I'll let you know what we end up with.

Randy said...

Wow. I just discovered this list now. Holy kowloon, sorry for being late to the party! Thanks Fred for including me and the Chee-Hoo Fizz on this list. And what a rush to see that Miles posted a comment too!! Cheers to you all!!!