Thursday, July 9, 2015

:: boston cocktail allstars - ryan lotz ::

For the fourth installment of the Boston Cocktail Allstars series, I figured that I would change gears for a moment. The first three, Tommy, Misty, and John, have all gotten a lot of press around Boston and across the country to varying degrees. However, often there are gems that fly under the radar a bit. In this instance, bartender Ryan Lotz has shown a great deal of creativity, hospitality, and scholarship in the 5+ years that I have known him. Early in 2010, Ryan called both Lauren Clark of DrinkBoston and me out on Twitter to come visit him at Lineage in Brookline. Being a ways off the beaten path, Lineage's drink program was not getting that much notice back then. One of the first things that Ryan was doing that caught my attention was that he was working his way through Ted Haigh's Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails. Each weekend, he was featuring a pair of drinks, and he progressed through the book over the next several months until completion; the first one we got to try was the Curaçao Punch. We rather enjoyed visiting Ryan at Lineage from March 2010 on for we could go at the tail end of the crowds and catch dinner without a wait; and after the throngs had left, we had plenty of undivided attention from the barstaff and talk about cocktails. Ryan later departed Lineage to become one of the opening barstaff of the Hawthorne, and after that, he found a home at No. 9 Park.
1. The Fritz
One of the first cocktail recipes of his that Ryan offered me that intrigued me was the Fritz -- a drink that was inspired by one of my recipes, the Gerty. Here, he balanced a four equal part drink where one quarter was Peychaud's Bitters in an inverse Martinez-like formulation. He dubbed this one after Fritz Bultman, an abstract expressionist from New Orleans. Also on the absurd tip was the Monk's Thistle that was his riff on Ben Sandrof's Green Chartreuse-laden Silent Order.

2. Final Voyage
Ryan's drink making prowess was not just freakist and extreme, but he ranged from classical to Tiki as well. For a proto-Tiki-inspired one, perhaps the Final Voyage, a Jamaican rum riff on the Last Word that fell somewhere between a Periodista and the Culross given the apricot liqueur. The Exhibition Swizzle also had a tropical feel despite being a tribute to Aperol's launch; Haitian rum, falernum, and lime helped to set that stage.
3. Black Cadillac
One of the drink styles that Ryan enjoyed tinkering with were egg drinks, and the egg drink that I featured in the Drink and Tell: A Boston Cocktail Book technique section was this one, the Black Cadillac. This stout ale Flip bolstered by demerara syrup, Scotch, and Jamaican rum had all the makings of early 19th century libations but with a flavor profile that fit in quite nicely with modern mixology.

4. Andorra
At the Hawthorne, Ryan had less control over the cocktail menu than he did as bar manager of Lineage, but he still was able to offer guests some excellent libations. One that sums up this era was the Andorra. Comparing it to a Negroni would sell it short, but Cognac as the spirit, sherry as the wine element, and Amaro Nardini as the bittering agent in equal parts gave way for a complex tipple. Add in a little salted rooibos syrup to mollify the amaro's bitterness, and the flavor profile offered chocolate, toffee, and nuttiness that complemented the brandy.
5. Riviera de Ponente
I think that the Hawthorne's refined elegance prepared him well for the current stage of his career at No. 9 Park. Strangely, he has been churning out some of the most interesting Tiki drinks in town using inspiration from Italian ingredients and classic cocktails. The Riviera de Ponente pictured above mixes in amaro and other liqueurs in something akin to a Zombie. And his Negroni Week offering, the Amaro di Cocco beautifully merged a Rum Negroni with a Piña Colada into what could have been dubbed the Piña Negrada. Also, his Tiki prowess has led him to teach classes with Beachbum Berry where Ryan offered up the Benny & the Jets.

For these reasons, I am adding Ryan to this small but growing list of Boston Cocktail Allstars. Indeed, of this group, he is the first that I have covered that is still dedicating himself full time to bartending in Boston. And perhaps one day I'll make sure to get a decent picture of Ryan (opposed to the one above from Boston Thirst 2014) instead of taking pictures of his exquisite drinks alone. So cheers to Ryan!

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