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Jan 27, 2010 05:37 AM

Best bartender ever

So you all talk about these famous bartenders in town, most of whom I haven't dealt with due to not being a huge drinker and just not getting to those places, but Casey at Lucca (both North End and Back Bay formerly Sasso) is one of the coolest guys and under appreciated. He's fun, funny, makes the bar area feel like a party, turns you on to new stuff (my friend really enjoyed the Huntington) or listens to what you really want (pear and ginger for me). Gives tastes of stuff, both food and drink. The combination of nice patrons and mgmt with good food and drink makes the bar of Lucca (this time in Back Bay) a great place. Standouts were the mushroom risotto, butternut squash ravioli (not too sweet), bacon fritter (with the parsnip soup) and pound cake. Three of us got the $37 prix fixe that's offered until 7PM and had a wonderful time. The dining room is beautiful too but personally, I'll sit at the bar every time. I guess I should add this to the 5 fave thread that's going on right now.

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  1. Reggie from the Blue Room.
    Not sure if he is even still there but a class act and skilled bar keep if ever there was one.
    Sure to be there when you need him and gone like a whisper when you dont.

    4 Replies
      1. re: Taralli

        reggie rocks. mon-fri nights at the blue room.

        1. re: hotoynoodle

          Dry, fresh ginger martinis - mmmmmmm!

      2. re: beandog

        Reggie threatened to retire last year, but it never happened. He is our #1 fav. Lucky is the patron of Reggie St. Paul.

      3. Tom Schelsinger-Guidelli formerly of Craigie on Main, soon to be ??

        2 Replies
        1. re: kimfair1

          Damn, I didn't mean this to be a list of everyone's faves, should have had a different title and given him props within. Oh well, let the list begin.

          1. re: Joanie

            Oops! I'll be sure to check out Casey's skills in the near future!

        2. Completely agree: Casey is a great bartender on all counts. Been following him around for years.

          1. Josey Packard at Drink. Not only does she make a mean drink, she's also been on Rachel Maddow's show many a time which just increases her coolness in my book.

            30 Replies
            1. re: bobot

              Not just that. She is very close personal friends with Maddow. Maddow apparently goes to Drink somewhat regularly, but I have never seen her there.

              1. re: DoubleMan

                Rachel's a well-known proponent of the cocktail renaissance who lives in MA -- I'm not surprised she'd be at Drink on occasion.

                1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                  Yes, but it would be a 2 1/2 hour drive. The drive home would be a nightmare.

              2. re: bobot

                Drink has a truly all-star roster to me, but Josey and Misty (since Green Street) remain my enduring favorites - I am always happy to see John and Scott across the bar as well, and Joe is an up-and-comer in my book - really, really nice guy learning fast and listening very carefully all the time.

                1. re: rlh

                  Agree on Misty and Josey. Misty's another one I've been trailing since her B-Side days, though per the interview I did with her for after she got her B.A.R. certification (google "A Rhodes Scholar of Bartending"), she got her start at Lizard Lounge under Brother Cleve's tutelage. I finally connected the dots on Josey as the singer/guitarist for Chelsea on Fire, whom I'd seen several times at the Middle East or TT's years back.

                  Is Joe the young guy who was working construction a year ago, never climbed behind a bar in his life before Drink? He is excellent, and an inspirational story. Also a testament to Gertsen's training / leadership skills.


                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                    That is precisely the Joe that I mean - and John was even able to get an amateur like me to produce a mighty fine batch of Tom and Jerrys over the holidays - now that's a testament to his skills (and his terrific personal recipe is not exactly the same as the Notes on the Facebook page, BTW)!

                  2. re: rlh

                    I second the Joe nomination. He can go from serving a group of Bee's Knees and other simple cocktails to rather complex ones depending on his audience. And the more enthusiastic you are about things, the more he feeds off of them.

                    Another nomination not mentioned in this thread (plenty that I would 2nd or 3rd) is Derric Crothers at Green Street (was Alchemist Lounge). Has a lot of hustle but is attentive and careful with his drink measurements -- I've seen him work a bar normally staffed by two himself and as a customer, I didn't feel gypped by the experience.

                    A few more would be Scott Holliday of Rendezvous, Max Toste of Deep Ellum, and Matthew Schrage of No. 9 Park.


                    1. re: yarm

                      slightly off topic, but I would like to nominate yarm & co's blog ( ) as the best "virtual" bartender or barhopping blog in greater Boston

                      1. re: barleywino

                        That is a superb blog, my go-to when I'm stumped for something novel to make at home. They are relentless in their research!


                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                          Thanks for the kind words, bw and mcsjb! Perhaps another mark of a good bartender for me is one who will be willing to find a new drink for me to write about (how many Vieux Carres or Manhattans can I write about or people want to read about?). It sifts through who knows just the menu and who does their research (and can mentally access it).


                          1. re: yarm

                            As much as I like the aspect of all of the things that people will concoct for you, it is a blessing and a curse. There have been several times where I've seen you talk about something whipped up custom that looks really tasty but some combination of me not feeling that I have enough cachet to ask for it and/or not always remembering exactly what was involved.

                            1. re: jgg13

                              It's pretty rare lately that there's a post without a recipe, so iPhones and the old fashioned paper method can help out. Otherwise, take the concept and adopt it for your own customer-bartender interactions and seek out novel drinks. Cachet? I think it's more knowing how to ask. Like, "Hey Hugh, what have you been tinkering around with lately?" or the like. If I don't know the bartender, ordering the first off the menu is a good first step for them to understand you. And if the place is new to me, there'll probably be enough novel cocktails that I don't have to go off menu (a lot of places you can drink through the menu in a short period of time).

                    2. re: rlh

                      Speaking of the bartenders at Drink, there's a guy there that I'm not sure the name of. He's tall, lean, short cropped dark/grayish hair, usually has something between scruff & a goatee. Very nice guy.

                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                          That sounds right - I remember overhearing the guy I'm describing talking about the barsmarts exam. I've ended up at his station the last handful of times I've been there and have enjoyed his work

                          1. re: jgg13

                            I found this hambone pic of Scott: He makes fine real-Tiki drinks, by the way.


                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                              Yup, that's him. I'd found a different pic on drinkboston but it was too hard to tell from that one. Thanks. He made a blue blazer for the gf the last time that we were at his station, despite self-admittedly being out of practice it was still a lot of fun to watch.

                              Speaking of tiki, I wonder (ie hope) if they're planning on doing the tiki sundays again when the weather gets warm.

                          2. re: MC Slim JB

                            Scott is usually the guy we go with if Misty isn't available. He's really very nice and has introduced us to some great stuff. We also went to the class he taught at Stir recently on Winter Warmers - we had a batch of the Bishop's Punch at home this weekend and it was a great way to beat the cold!

                            1. re: bostonbroad

                              Scott is my Go-To now that Ben left. next would be Misty then Josey.

                              1. re: ScubaSteve

                                Misty & Josey have been are top two choices for a while now, with Scott (now that I know his name) right up there in terms of enjoyment.

                                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                                    admittedly i have not been in about six weeks and on my last visit he was still absent.
                                    this is great news.

                                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                                      I hope so - he was my go to guy right up until the day he left. But he had left to go work for a liquor distributor so focus on some other aspects of his life, so if he's back, it might be a little bittersweet for him.

                                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                                        I thought that I saw him a week or two ago, but since I'd heard he had left I figured that maybe i was confusing him w/ someone else as it was somewhat busy and I was fairly distracted myself.

                            2. re: bobot

                              Josey was off her game last night. Distracted or something.

                              Back to Joanie's post: Hey Joanie, are you saying Casey works at BOTH the S.E. and B.B locations? Do you know what nights? Haven't been to Lucca in forever. The mussels were a standout back then.

                                  1. re: Alcachofa

                                    I think Back Bay is Tues. and Thurs. and North End is something and Sat. He changed days a while ago so not sure but I'm 100% on Tues. in BB and Sat. in the NE. Maybe I like him so much cuz he took some of my music advice, and actually liked it!

                                    1. re: Alcachofa

                                      Update: Josey was on and better than ever last night - Drink was totally swamped, but she (along with Misty, Scott, and Joey, in particular) were really on top of the crowd doing great things with the spirits and creating smiles all around.

                                      My awesome new short list cocktail a la Josey is the Oaxacan Old Fashioned - wow ! - she suggested it after a first round 1919 and my request for something else with the mole bitters. The final round Tipperary was also a pleasant surprise but not as truly special and unique.

                                      Also, the revised menu has some great food at fair prices now as well - specifically the gougeres without filling at 6 for $2, the thick handcut very crispy fries with garlic mayo dip, the wings (a little high at $10 for 5 but so amazing), and the grilled cheese.

                                  2. Is Lolly Mason still in town? Last I heard, she was at Upstairs. I wouldn't call her "best" by any stretch of the imagination, but she's certainly among the most entertaining: Allstonian and I used to watch her public access show on Friday nights just to see what utterly insane, vile-sounding thing she was going to make that week.