Tuesday, September 10, 2013

:: five boston bars to open soon ::

In late 2011, I made a post about four Boston bars to open soon that I was excited about. One, Hair of the Dog, never materialized due to issues with the building's owner, but the other three -- the Hawthorne, Brick & Mortar, and Backbar -- helped to reshape the landscape of the Boston cocktail universe. This edition will cover another cluster of four five Boston bars that are soon to open, and like I said last time, some of this information is based on firsthand knowledge from the people involved, some of it is hearsay from Chowhound, Facebook, Twitter, or other. So take it with a grain of salt since I will abstain from fact checking and will confirm it all when I am drinking at their bars once they open. I did communicate with people involved with each of these projects and received some interesting tidbits back from them.

Kirkland Tap & Trotter, 425 Washington Street, Somerville, Harvard-Union-Inman Square.

With Tony Maws' success with Craigie on Main, he seeks to expand his reach by taking over the space of the old Kirkland Café, a neighborhood dive bar that had epic wood paneling and a decent live music scene. While I will leave the aspects of the wood-fired grill and food to the restaurant writers, I will hone in on their bar program. The first wisps of information that I heard was that the B-Side Lounge and Brick & Mortar founder Patrick Sullivan was consulting on the project and later learned that Misty Kalkofen was helping to get the program up and running. Their first job was finding a bar manager, and I am quite pleased with their pick -- No. 9 Park's Tyler Wang. Tyler cut his teeth in the bar world at Drink before staying within the Lynchian realm across town; I remember the day that he popped into Russell House Tavern when I was at the stick to tell me of his new position. I kept it quiet then, but with Maws' restaurant about to open and the news being a bit more public now, I feel more comfortable sharing. Tyler describes the bar project as one designed after "the best neighborhood bars in the world"; being right near Bergamot and Trina's Starlite Lounge, this theme will be right at home. Tyler continued, "My team is prepared to talk about and serve under-appreciated but over-performing wines and a great selection of craft beers. Our cocktails will be a compact but compelling mix of simple classically-oriented selections, and unique highballs like our City Side Soda featuring a house-made Pineapple-Celery Soda and Del Maguey Vida Mezcal." Also, on the bartender roster there is Kenny Belanger, Patrick Sullivan's star from the Legal Seafood days that he brought along with him to help open Brick & Mortar.

Beat Hotel, 39 Brattle Street, Cambridge, Harvard Square.

Beat Hotel has certainly been a topic of conversation at work, for Harvard Square is gaining a new cocktail spot to add to the roster that includes the Sinclair, First Printer, Russell House Tavern, and Park. The project is a parallel universe to the owners' other venture, the Beehive, and to some, crossing the Charles River is indeed a formidable gateway to another world. While the owners have sat at my bar at Russell House Tavern for lunch, I regret not quizzing them on the bar program. However, through checkins via the OnTheBar app, I spotted a familiar name checked in at Beat Hotel one day, Ian Strickland. I first met Ian at the Boston Cocktail Summit last year as he had wrapped up his work with the Milky Way in Jamaica Plain and started at Pigalle to update their bar menu. When Pigalle closed for renovations in May, he switched to the Beehive. In contacting Ian, he confirmed that he is indeed the head bartender there and that they will be opening in the next week or two.

Sarma, 249 Pearl Street, Somerville, Winter Hill-Gillman Square.

Up in my neck of the woods used to be the Paddock; I always thought the Paddock was a steakhouse until I heard that one of my friends went on date there for the pizza. We ventured in a few times for the Italian food, divey decor, and occasional neighborhood serenades from the karaoke lounge. The decently sized bar there was always filled with colorful locals quaffing cheap beers and simple Highballs. After it closed, I learned that the folks behind Oleana and Sofra were taking it over to serve Middle Eastern-inspired food and calling the joint Sarma. I was not sure whether they would have a bar program of note being that far out in the 'ville, but I was delighted to learn on a thread in the Chanticleer Society forum that Vikram Hegde last seen at Island Creek Oyster Bar will be the opening bar manager. I have been impressed with Vik's drinks at ICOB, and I am excited to see what he will do with some freedom from the more food-friendly ICOB cocktail menu constraints. Vik just wrote me describing how, "the general concept is going to be to try and reflect some of the fascinating spice elements that are used in the Middle Eastern/Mediterranean style food, so cocktails incorporating flavors like fenugreek, Aleppo pepper, mastic, etc. I'm hoping that as we evolve and grow into our own, we can develop some well integrated twists on classics (think a Sazerac with mastic and using Raki instead of Absinthe...) without making the classic mistake of just trying to create something different, regardless of whether or not it's an improvement."

Fairsted Kitchen, 1704 Beacon Street, Brookline, Washington Square.

I was surprised when I learned via the Boston restaurant blogs that Steve Bowman was opening up his own restaurant, the Fairsted Kitchen. When I first met Steve, he was working at Cirace's Fine Wines & Spirits in the North End. Later, he worked at Russell House Tavern before departing to Menton to be a captain and sommelier. The restaurant will join the neighborhood along with the beer Mecca, the Publick House, as well as the recently opened Ribelle; Matt Schrage first alerted me to Ribelle's cocktail program since he helped as a consultant on the project. Moreover, through Boston.com's Straight Up column, I learned that Patrick Gaggiano will be leaving Trina's Starlite Lounge to be a member of the opening roster of Fairsted Kitchen's bar staff. When I later contacted Steve, he described how the bar "will focus on classic cocktails, both traditionally executed and updated with tongue in cheek riffs. We'll also forge new ground offering bottled and carbonated cocktails as well as cocktails on draft. Late night brings an off beat and fun energy, drawing the emerging Brookline industry scene. Patrick Gaggiano will helm the program, joined by Alex Homans." When I spoke to Alex last week, he did not mention this, so this is a surprise to me. I met Alex when he was managing Temple Bar; he then went on for a short stint managing Russell House Tavern before ending up at Backbar. While Patrick recently had his last day at Trina's, I am not sure if Alex will be working one or both places.

State Park, 1 Kendall Square, Cambridge, Kendall Square.

In discussing this article, I was alerted that I forgot an establishment or two; however, only one of these did I know anything about the bar program. State Park, the second establishment from the owners of Hungry Mother, will be opening in the old Think Tank space. Hungry Mother's Heather Mojer will be making the move across Kendall Square to lead the program there which is a loss for Hungry Mother but a gain for State Park. I was able to reach out to Heather and luckily get some information. She expects an opening at the end of October as "a bar-focused spot with old neon beer signs, a screen door, maybe a diorama, and amusements; shuffleboard, 2 pinball machines, a juke box and a coin-op pool table are in the works... The bar will feature fine mixed drinks (and crushed ice!), a very fun magnum list for our wines by the bottle, and a good range of beer for all occasions."

Also Alden & Harlow is opening in Harvard Square (40 Brattle Street, Cambridge), but I know nothing of the people running the bar program. I did read in a BostonMagazine post that while they will have a complete liquor license, the program will hone in on wine.


Matt G. Coole said...

Great read. I'm excited to eat and drink at these new establishments. In the case of Kirkland and State Park, I'm happy these will be more accessible than their (stunning) alma maters. State Park should be a hoot for the Kendall after work crowd, which I count myself apart of.

As you alluded to, I can't wait to see if/how these places will shape the ever expanding food and drink movement going on here in Boston.

Any word on Commonwealth's bar program?

frederic said...

The only names I know involved with Commonwealth is Nookie. And he hasn't said boo about beer, cocktails, or wine that was noteworthy. I generally focus on programs where they announce or I find out that there is a name behind a bar program. Otherwise, I rely on word of mouth after they open.

Unknown said...

Great article. Lots of info in there. As far as Commonwealth goes, Tom Mastricola of Clio and Number 9 will be heading up the beverage end. Really simple seasonal cocktails with heavy emphasis on technique and impeccable ingredients. The wine list will also be very approachable and featuring some great lesser known domestic wineries. More info to come on the whole program as we are still putting our finishing touches on it. Keep up the good work.


frederic said...

Nookie, thanks for writing and filling in the blanks! Look forward to your new venture!

Unknown said...

If you haven't yet, I recommend that you check out Olé Mexican Grill's newly revamped bar area, "El Trago" in Inman Square. The bar manager, Michael Florence, is doing some really good things with milk punches and house-made tepache.