Thursday, June 25, 2015

:: boston cocktail allstars - misty kalkofen ::

As a result of discussing various Boston bartenders and their long lasting contributions to the Boston cocktail scene, I began a series last week called the Boston Cocktail Allstars. For a starting point, I selected my first craft bartender, Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli, and soon assembled a list of local shaker heroes that needed to be covered in future editions. Next on the docket is Misty Kalkofen which temporally might have been our next craft bartender in Boston. I know that we were drinking at Green Street back in mid-2007, about a year after Misty started there, and followed her to Drink in late 2008 and then Brick & Mortar in the vapors of 2011. I am not sure whether her infectious laugh or her recipes travel further, but for now, I will deal more with the recipes (note: bring field recording gear next time). And with great difficulty like last time, I will narrow this down to five drinks that define my version of her Boston legacy.
1. Fort Washington Flip
While Misty is frequently known for her early adopter status with St. Germain, mezcal, and sherry (more on that in the next few drinks), one thing that she brings to the table, er... bar is a love of egg drinks. In fact, for Easter 2007, she assembled a egg-forward cocktail menu, and DrinkBoston quoted her as saying "You hard boil your Easter eggs. We separate and shake ours." This is not to say that she was the first, for No. 9 Park was definitely doing their share and Eastern Standard had already started their "oeuf" section on their menu. As one of her best egg drinks during this time period, Misty brought a bunch of Fall flavors together and named it after a Revolutionary War-era fortification, Fort Washington, which still exists as remnants several blocks away from Green Street. While my first egg drink was at Eastern Standard, my love of the style blossomed at Misty's bar. Though not her drink, her choice to put Angus Winchester's Peanut Malt Flip on the menu made my nightcap drink choice easy -- I would just ask Green Street bartender Derric Crothers for a "PMF."

2. Maximilian Affair
Before her love of sherry reared itself, it was St. Germain and mezcal. One of the first drinks that had both in it was the Maximilian Affair which was symbolically named after a French intervention in Mexico during the mid-19th century. When I asked Misty about the drink later, she explained how she created the drink at Green Street for Ron Cooper of Del Maguey after he pulled a bottle of mezcal out for her to try. The Del Maguey products were not available here at that time, so luckily she still had enough of a sample to use it in a St. Germain recipe competition. Until quality mezcals became available, she was often forced to use a blanco tequila in its place. Floral and fruit notes from the St. Germain intervene with the heat and smoke of the Mexican spirit, and the combination is magically bound with Punt e Mes and lemon. Perhaps her Bohemian is a better introduction to St. Germain, but I personally return to the Maximilian Affair for personal consumption more often.
3. Armada
During the Drink era, Misty did not have the benefit of getting cocktails on a menu for that bar lacks (a written) one. New ideas were more fleeting and often required them to be made by the creator. Luckily, we had quite a few of these during the time period. Originally, I was going to go with the Dunaway that showcases Misty's finesse with sherry. However, I spotted the Armada which included sherries as well as Genever -- a spirit that Misty also produced great recipes with including the 1820. Genever is less forgiving of a spirit than gin or whiskey which lie on either side of it on the flavor spectrum, yet Misty was able to craft gems like the Armada.

4. Teardrop
Once Misty moved on to Brick & Mortar, she created some of the most intriguing combinations on paper that turned out to delicious medleys in the glass. The first that I tried at Brick that December of 2011 was the Teardrop which Misty described as one the first successes for the opening menu. It also showcased a new tool in her cocktail arsenal -- having a person who could generate names. Bar co-owner Patrick Sullivan had a notebook of names that he wanted to find homes for, and Misty had a bunch of cocktail ideas that needed names. Here, Cardamaro takes center stage to balance the gin; while Averna donates a bit of richness, it is the light touch of absinthe that makes things work by brightening up the drink. Not overpowering in any direction or proof. The latter part was not so true on the Bullet for Fredo that I had that night. No, it was balanced, but this chilled but undiluted number packed a punch (see serving size below!). It also displayed how aged grappa could be utilized elegantly as a based spirit. Apparently, during Brick & Mortar training, the staff greatly enjoyed drinking Nardini Aquavite Bassano Riserva Aged Grappa over other spirits, perhaps due to its vanilla, spice, chocolate, and tobacco notes.
5. Streets of Gettysburg
For a second drink to sum up Misty's time at Brick & Mortar, I was torn between two cocktails that featured sherry and Benedictine. The one that I did not choose is the amusingly named Honky and the Donkey. Perhaps it should have gotten the nod, but Misty's love of mezcal has been mentioned a few times above. Instead, here is a rye whiskey one, but what does it have to do with the name? Legend has it that Patrick Sullivan had spotted it as the caption to a friend's photo on Facebook and put it his drink name notebook, and it later called out to Misty. The trio of sherry, Benedictine, and coffee liqueur is just magic in this drink.
Currently, Misty has taken her love of agave spirits to the next level and the next stage in her career, that of being an educator as well as working for Del Maguey Mezcal. I remember the first time that Misty visited me at Russell House Tavern shortly after making that move. I had to figure out what drink would match her tastes, and the one I chose was my Downtown at Dawn which features mezcal, apple brandy, and Benedictine that she has utilized in many of her drinks over the years. If I could have fit sherry, Lillet/Cocchi Americano, Drambuie, and egg in there as well, the world might have exploded. So let us all raise a stigi of mezcal to Misty. Cheers!

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