Monday, December 31, 2012

:: fred's top 10 cocktail moments of 2012 ::

In 2010, I was asked what my favorite drink of the year was and I decided not only to start a list of my favorite drinks I had out and in, but I decided to list the top 10 moments of the previous 12 months. The one for 2010 can be found here and last year's there. The list for the best drinks of 2012 out and in will most likely be posted on January 1st and 2nd, respectively.

1. Still Around
Despite hearing about the Death of Cocktail Blogging, CocktailVirgin is still here and growing in terms of followers, page hits, and infamy. Indeed, the blog is mentioned and used as a reference and resource by a variety of print and web magazines. 2012 saw the blog's 5th anniversary in September and my 4th anniversary with it in June. Speaking of the strength of blogs in general, I also took over MixologyMonday in September to keep the event that Paul Clarke found in 2006 going for more years to come; it definitely serves as a monthly community center meetup that provides some sense of unity in the blogosphere.

2. Visited New Bars in Boston
The Hawthorne, Backbar, and Brick & Mortar all got visits shortly after they opened at the end of 2011; I definitely learned to love each of them for very different reasons. The list for 2012 contains both new and new-to-me bars. One of my new favorites, the Blue Room, has been around for years; however, Matthew Schrage has recently taken over their bar program. It also helps to solidify Kendall Square along with new comer West Bridge and old standbys like Hungry Mother and Abigail's as well as Catalyst which I have yet to visit. Likewise, Local 149 has gotten my attention ever since John Mayer left Craigie to manage the bar there. Other bars that have been around that I have added to the loop are Scholar's, Sichuan Garden II, and Art Bar. Finally, other new bars for 2012 are J.M. Curley across from Stoddard's and Park in Harvard Square; technically, J.M. Curley opened in the last week or two of 2011, but it was not until early 2012 that I first visited.

3. This, That, the Other
During the first week or so of 2012, we paid a visit to the Independent in Somerville, and Andrea ordered the This, That, the Other that I had enjoyed so much. The bartender declared that they had run out of one of the key ingredients since "some blogger" had written it up as one of the best drinks of 2011 and people came in and cleared them out of Maurin Quina (it is back on the menu again, so go order one!). Also, another side effect of that best of 2011 cocktail list was Eastern Standard being touched when I named the Rapa Nui not only the best drink of January but one of the best Tiki drinks I had that year as well. Thus, they changed the drink's description on the menu:
eastern standard tiki tikism boston
4. Winning Contests!
One of the first contests I won this year was for Drinking in America's Cabin Fever Cocktail Challenge with my Pokey Crocus. I also won the Hiram Walker Margarita Madness contest with my Diablita -- a Diablo-Margarita hybrid. My Pegu Club riff, the Tanglin Club, also got picked by TheDailyMeal as the best drink on ShakeStir when they looked.
grandten privateer turkey shore distillery
5. Visiting Distilleries
2012 had more involvement with distilleries than previous years. Part of the fun was helping GrandTen in South Boston develop their Wire Works Gin through two rounds of tasting. It was great not only seeing the improvements after each round but their ability to take abstract commentary and interpret it into changes in the botanical choices and ratios. I also met people involved in the two rum distilleries in Ipswich during the Boston Cocktail Summit. They invited me up for a split day of tours first at Privateer and then Turkey Shore. I did meet the distillers from Ryan & Wood at the Cocktail Summit, but I have yet to make it up there.

6. A Cocktail Book?
If you had asked me at the end of 2011 if I was planning to write a book, the answer would have been no. However, a freeing up of personal time mixed with a wise old lady telling me that I should write a book, and 4 months later, Drink & Tell: A Boston Cocktail Book was born. It has been selling well at the Boston Shaker Store and at Amazon (see links on the upper right of this page). Writing the book was a lot of hard work but it wasn't that challenging to me, but everything that came afterwards was uncharted territory. I had a great series of interviews with the first few hunting me out immediately. These include ones that appeared in Eater, Boston Magazine,, and the Metro not to mention a great writeup in SeriousEats. I am still getting a handle on how to promote things better, but I am thankful that everything I have gleaned from this learning experience.

7. Portland Visit
While attending the Boston Cocktail Summit was definitely worth mentioning, going to a distant city to tour the bars was great. We were there for Portland Cocktail Week, and as a fringe benefit of Drink & Tell, I was invited to speak at the conference on publishing a book. There, I also took and passed Barsmarts Advanced and with that came a year's membership to the USBG. We are currently working our way through both seasons of Portlandia in its afterglow.
portland cocktail week pdxcw
8. Future Things Lined Up
One of my recipes, the Knickroni, will be in Gary Regan's Negroni book slated to come out in the first half of 2013. I also submitted a recipe for his 2013 cocktail recipe book so perhaps there too? At the end of January next year, I will be teaching a class with John Gertsen at Stir with a tie in to the book I wrote. And mid-February, I am slated to have my pro-bartending debute; I will be teaming up with the Hawthorne's Katie Emmerson to do one of the Blue Room's Monday night special events.

9. Great Boston Events!
This year, Boston threw its own cocktail week, and I covered it as media. Other great Boston parties, competitions, etc. that I attended included the Hawthorne's Farewell to Bathtub Gin, TheThing at Locke-Ober (shortly before it closed), Fernet Barback Games, Speedrack, Appleton's Remixology, J.D. Salinger 9 Stories-themed charity event, Single Malt Scotch Whisky Extravaganza, and the American Craft Beer Fest to name just a few.

10. I knew I should have paced myself...
I think I combined too many ideas together in some of the previous 9. Then again, I had a similar problem with the last two year end roundups, so perhaps I should make it a yearly top 9 (except that I'll probably get stuck after #8 that way). Instead of mentioning any accomplishments, I should probably give thanks to everyone who has helped me along the way with these goals (besides all the bartenders who have helped to give me great source material to write about!). This list includes but is not limited to Camper English, Paul Clarke, Josh Childs, Sahil Mehta, Luke O'Neil, Stephanie Schorow, Dave Stolte, Natalie Bovis, Adam Lantheume, Jamie Walsh, Alexei Beratis, Mike Dietsch, and John Gertsen. I know I am missing plenty, but these guys have helped me with the book, various events, and the like.