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Best bartender ever

Joanie Jan 27, 2010 05:37 AM

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. b
    beandog RE: Joanie Jan 27, 2010 05:44 AM

    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: beandog
      Taralli RE: beandog Jan 27, 2010 06:23 AM

      Cheers for Reggie!

      1. re: Taralli
        hotoynoodle RE: Taralli Jan 27, 2010 07:24 PM

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

        1. re: hotoynoodle
          Taralli RE: hotoynoodle Jan 28, 2010 08:52 AM

          Dry, fresh ginger martinis - mmmmmmm!

      2. re: beandog
        Small Plates RE: beandog Jan 28, 2010 11:27 AM

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

      3. k
        kimfair1 RE: Joanie Jan 27, 2010 05:53 AM

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


        2 Replies
        1. re: kimfair1
          Joanie RE: kimfair1 Jan 27, 2010 05:58 AM

          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
            kimfair1 RE: Joanie Jan 27, 2010 06:20 AM

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

        2. MC Slim JB RE: Joanie Jan 27, 2010 06:18 AM

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


          1. b
            bobot RE: Joanie Jan 27, 2010 12:28 PM

            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
              DoubleMan RE: bobot Jan 27, 2010 06:23 PM

              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
                BarmyFotheringayPhipps RE: DoubleMan Jan 27, 2010 07:33 PM

                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
                  almansa RE: BarmyFotheringayPhipps Jan 28, 2010 11:50 AM

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

              2. re: bobot
                rlh RE: bobot Jan 28, 2010 04:33 AM

                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
                  MC Slim JB RE: rlh Jan 28, 2010 04:56 AM

                  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 drinkboston.com 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
                    rlh RE: MC Slim JB Jan 28, 2010 06:45 AM

                    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
                    yarm RE: rlh Jan 28, 2010 11:58 AM

                    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
                      barleywino RE: yarm Jan 29, 2010 02:36 AM

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

                      1. re: barleywino
                        MC Slim JB RE: barleywino Jan 29, 2010 03:48 AM

                        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
                          yarm RE: MC Slim JB Jan 29, 2010 08:11 AM

                          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
                            jgg13 RE: yarm Jan 29, 2010 08:53 AM

                            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
                              yarm RE: jgg13 Jan 29, 2010 09:15 AM

                              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
                      jgg13 RE: rlh Jan 31, 2010 02:26 PM

                      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: jgg13
                        MC Slim JB RE: jgg13 Jan 31, 2010 03:46 PM

                        That sounds like Scott Marshall: also excellent.


                        1. re: MC Slim JB
                          jgg13 RE: MC Slim JB Jan 31, 2010 04:44 PM

                          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
                            MC Slim JB RE: jgg13 Jan 31, 2010 06:25 PM

                            I found this hambone pic of Scott: http://drinkboston.com/2009/09/12/bee... He makes fine real-Tiki drinks, by the way.


                            1. re: MC Slim JB
                              jgg13 RE: MC Slim JB Feb 1, 2010 07:11 AM

                              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
                            bostonbroad RE: MC Slim JB Feb 1, 2010 08:12 AM

                            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
                              ScubaSteve RE: bostonbroad Feb 1, 2010 09:12 AM

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

                              1. re: ScubaSteve
                                jgg13 RE: ScubaSteve Feb 1, 2010 09:16 AM

                                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: ScubaSteve
                                  MC Slim JB RE: ScubaSteve Feb 1, 2010 09:22 AM

                                  I thought Ben had returned. Not so?


                                  1. re: MC Slim JB
                                    ScubaSteve RE: MC Slim JB Feb 1, 2010 01:16 PM

                                    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
                                      bostonbroad RE: MC Slim JB Feb 1, 2010 01:33 PM

                                      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
                                        jgg13 RE: MC Slim JB Feb 1, 2010 02:14 PM

                                        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
                              Alcachofa RE: bobot Jan 28, 2010 06:16 AM

                              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
                                phatchris RE: Alcachofa Jan 28, 2010 09:08 AM

                                North End

                                1. re: phatchris
                                  Alcachofa RE: phatchris Jan 28, 2010 11:35 AM

                                  Oops, yes, meant "N.E."

                                2. re: Alcachofa
                                  MC Slim JB RE: Alcachofa Jan 28, 2010 09:19 AM

                                  I've seen Casey at both Lucca and Lucca Back Bay.


                                  1. re: Alcachofa
                                    Joanie RE: Alcachofa Jan 28, 2010 09:58 AM

                                    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
                                      rlh RE: Alcachofa Feb 5, 2010 03:27 PM

                                      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. BarmyFotheringayPhipps RE: Joanie Jan 27, 2010 12:39 PM

                                    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.

                                    1. Bob Dobalina RE: Joanie Jan 27, 2010 01:42 PM

                                      Thanks, Joanie. Will check it out.

                                      I would give a shoutout to the two fine lasses who were tending bar at the dining room side of Trina's last Friday night - they were making some mighty fine drinks with speed and grace - and heck, they knew how to make a Green Point with nary batting an eye. That gets an A in my book.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: Bob Dobalina
                                        ponyboy RE: Bob Dobalina Jan 28, 2010 08:06 AM

                                        Emma and Emily

                                        1. re: ponyboy
                                          Bob Dobalina RE: ponyboy Jan 28, 2010 08:28 AM

                                          Thanks, PB - Which gal has the great ink?

                                          1. re: Bob Dobalina
                                            rknrll RE: Bob Dobalina Jan 28, 2010 07:38 PM

                                            And last I knew she was still at Green Street as well.

                                            1. re: rknrll
                                              Bob Dobalina RE: rknrll Jan 29, 2010 08:26 AM

                                              Awesome - thanks. I am a fan - I hope they are roundly appreciated by the hipster crowd at Trina's.

                                      2. g
                                        gyppielou RE: Joanie Jan 28, 2010 09:18 AM

                                        Well you have certainly wet my interest.

                                        My fave bartender is John Gertsen fro No.9Park. Not in the city now so haven't kept up with him, but he has always had an other worldly elegance and humble charm that is hard to define and rare in the industry.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: gyppielou
                                          jajjguy RE: gyppielou Jan 30, 2010 01:50 PM

                                          He is now running the show over at Drink. Rarely tends bar anymore, as far as i can tell, but he very much sets the tone for the place.

                                          1. re: jajjguy
                                            rlh RE: jajjguy Jan 30, 2010 03:03 PM

                                            Actually, John steps in pretty frequently and makes drinks, especially when it's really busy and he definitely keeps the energy focused and amazing most of the time there.

                                            1. re: rlh
                                              purple bot RE: rlh Jan 31, 2010 04:35 PM

                                              Agreed. I see John tending bar almost every time I go.

                                        2. m
                                          majo RE: Joanie Jan 28, 2010 01:28 PM

                                          Alice at the Board room at the TD Banknorth. Her smile even makes the game losses feel okay.She remembers what everyone orders!

                                          1. h
                                            hunterboston RE: Joanie Jan 29, 2010 08:48 AM

                                            Corey at Coppa is turning out some pretty cool cocktails.

                                            1. o
                                              offaly_tasty RE: Joanie Jan 30, 2010 08:45 AM

                                              My vote is for Mr. Borque at Clio. Best food/bartender combo in the town for my $$.

                                              1. j
                                                jajjguy RE: Joanie Jan 30, 2010 02:00 PM

                                                Carrie at Craigie. To take nothing away from Tom (whom I will certainly catch up with wherever/whenever he lands), I learned pretty early on not to be disappointed when he had a night off and Carrie was in charge. She's embracing her new role as senior bartender and has been doing some very tasty experimenting.

                                                6 Replies
                                                1. re: jajjguy
                                                  barleywino RE: jajjguy Jan 30, 2010 02:43 PM

                                                  agree-- as a former pastry chef at L'Espalier, she knows a thing or two about how to satisfy taste buds

                                                  1. re: barleywino
                                                    beandog RE: barleywino Jan 30, 2010 04:21 PM


                                                  2. re: jajjguy
                                                    kimfair1 RE: jajjguy Jan 31, 2010 05:41 AM

                                                    Carrie is awesome and is my new go to bartender at Craigie since Tom left.

                                                    1. re: kimfair1
                                                      bostonbroad RE: kimfair1 Feb 1, 2010 08:14 AM

                                                      We sat with Paul at Craigie recently and he was pretty darn good, too.

                                                      1. re: bostonbroad
                                                        rlove RE: bostonbroad Feb 3, 2010 07:19 AM

                                                        I really like Paul, too.

                                                        Friendly, a conversationist, and cares about his cocktails.

                                                        1. re: rlove
                                                          jajjguy RE: rlove Feb 3, 2010 06:09 PM

                                                          Indeed, Paul and Ted too are doing great.

                                                  3. r
                                                    RoyRon RE: Joanie Feb 1, 2010 11:15 AM

                                                    No one has mentioned the bar staff at Eastern Standard but I feel that Jackson and his crew are as good as any in Boston. Plus ESK has one of the most well stocked bars in the city. Especially when it comes to bourbon and rye whiskeys which are my favorites. I was in there one day for lunch and started talking with Jackson about whiskeys and came away really educated about all the different distilleries and their products. I love their version of a Whiskey Smash and they also do a perfect rye Old Fashion too.

                                                    38 Replies
                                                    1. re: RoyRon
                                                      Joanie RE: RoyRon Feb 1, 2010 12:04 PM

                                                      ES is constantly mentioned, it goes without saying at this point I think. Altho all the people at Drink should be a given by now too.

                                                      1. re: RoyRon
                                                        Canadian Tuxedo RE: RoyRon Feb 1, 2010 12:18 PM

                                                        IMO, while one can certainly single out some great bartenders at ESK, the entire staff does not deserve an automatic nod in this discussion. I've been there on at least two occasions (if not more) when an experienced bartender guided me through my order and then left me to someone obviously not very experienced or particularly skilled.

                                                        While I can't speak to who this might have been, Drink shouldn't be an automatic either according to this scathing review from a DC-area cocktail blogger: http://ajiggerofblog.com/2009/09/09/r...

                                                        In other words, to get mentioned on a thread such as this one you don't just happen to work at a particular bar, but need to do it the old fashioned way: earn it.

                                                        1. re: Canadian Tuxedo
                                                          Canadian Tuxedo RE: Canadian Tuxedo Feb 1, 2010 12:50 PM

                                                          I forgot to throw in a positive comment, however, so how about some props for Max at Deep Ellum?

                                                          1. re: Canadian Tuxedo
                                                            ScubaSteve RE: Canadian Tuxedo Feb 1, 2010 01:18 PM

                                                            Max rocks!
                                                            he always has something new or special for me when i show up during the day.
                                                            i still have dreams about the Gun Shop Fizz he made for me during this past summer.

                                                            1. re: ScubaSteve
                                                              jajjguy RE: ScubaSteve Feb 3, 2010 06:10 PM

                                                              I keep missing Max when I go, so I will give a shout for Dave, Evan, and Jen.

                                                          2. re: Canadian Tuxedo
                                                            davis_sq_pro RE: Canadian Tuxedo Feb 1, 2010 01:16 PM

                                                            Agreed 100%--both ESK and Drink certainly have duds on staff. But Jackson is great. Was there on a recent packed Saturday night at his station and he took the time--in-between making scores of drinks--to chat about various cocktails both on and off the menu, discuss the pros and cons of a few ingredients, and even to pour me sample of a housemade infusion I happened to ask about--without my asking for it. All without missing a beat, taking drink orders simultaneously from across the bar and from the wait staff. Truly impressive skills, great service, and excellent drinks. Best bartender ever? Not sure, but certainly one of the best I've had the pleasure of encountering.

                                                            1. re: Canadian Tuxedo
                                                              jgg13 RE: Canadian Tuxedo Feb 1, 2010 01:25 PM

                                                              I've found Drink to not really be all that great of a spot if it is crowded, once they start having to send waitstaff around for the folks milling around that's when it seems to start breaking down. The drinks are still usually pretty good but the combination of hassle & errors that pop up at times make it not worth it. The bad part is that I'm having a harder and harder time finding times that both mesh with my schedule and tends to be uncrowded there, c'est la vie :)

                                                              1. re: jgg13
                                                                ScubaSteve RE: jgg13 Feb 1, 2010 01:48 PM

                                                                that's why i'm there between 4:15 and 6pm only.

                                                                1. re: ScubaSteve
                                                                  jgg13 RE: ScubaSteve Feb 1, 2010 02:16 PM

                                                                  That's the problem, those times aren't typically easy for me. Of course, that's true for most folks which is why it is easier to go there during those times. :) I was a bit surprised this Saturday, arrived at 5 to find that there was already a decent standing room crowd built up - that was my first weekend foray in quite a while so hadn't realized it was already busy time by then.

                                                                  1. re: jgg13
                                                                    ScubaSteve RE: jgg13 Feb 1, 2010 02:36 PM

                                                                    yah, Saturdays can be hit or miss with the crowds. i usually just call ahead to check the availability of bar seats on Saturdays.

                                                                2. re: jgg13
                                                                  Canadian Tuxedo RE: jgg13 Feb 1, 2010 01:54 PM

                                                                  I know exactly where you are coming from in terms of crowds and timing.

                                                                  Plus, I find that if one is a regular it seems that you can get interesting, creative, new drink creations (or so I've read). But since I cannot make it down enough to be remembered, I always have to start the discussion of what I want and don't want from the beginning. I feel I have to take up time proving my cocktails "bonafides" so I don't get yet another gin/St. Germain variation and really dive into the interesting stuff. The best bartenders don't always make the best interviewers/interrogators...

                                                                  1. re: Canadian Tuxedo
                                                                    jgg13 RE: Canadian Tuxedo Feb 1, 2010 02:21 PM

                                                                    My gf runs into that more than I do as she's much more likely to do the "I'm thinking something that tastes like ..." routine than I am, but her requests are typically offbeat enough that unless it is busy they either suggest something new-to-us or will concoct something on the fly.

                                                                    One friend of mine was disappointed after hearing me talk about how they'll guide you, custom craft things, etc only to realize that the bartender (josey) was mainly suggesting the same handful of drinks (which are now mostly represented up on the cocktail board). I pointed out that these were still all new-to-her and she quite liked them, but I suppose I did too good of a marketing job and she had pictured everyone receiving some sort of custom recipe every time, which wasn't a very reasonable expectation.

                                                                    When I do go down the interview route I'll ask what's on their mind when they say they have something. If I'm not really familiar w/ the drink (if it is not custom) I'll ask what goes in it, and can steer away from that if it sounds like "yet another gin/St Germain variation", to use your words.

                                                                    1. re: jgg13
                                                                      barleywino RE: jgg13 Feb 1, 2010 03:30 PM

                                                                      i once asked for something "dark" and ended up with something pink...sometimes requests are interpreted loosely

                                                                      1. re: jgg13
                                                                        yarm RE: jgg13 Feb 3, 2010 07:08 AM

                                                                        With some of the bartenders there, when you try to steer them away from their ruts, they do get a bit discouraged and walk away from you. It's one way where the menu-less system fails -- you aren't necessarily getting novel drinks, more what the bartender wants to make you, so you end up with less choice, not more (unless you start naming drinks by name or recipe). This is not all of the bartenders there, and the ratio changes depending on how busy things get (a downside of going on a slow night is that they send bartenders home so even that's not a great plan anymore).

                                                                        1. re: yarm
                                                                          jgg13 RE: yarm Feb 3, 2010 07:53 AM

                                                                          Good to know on all sides (didn't realize that about slow nights). It is almost never an issue for either of us as I usually either know exactly what I want or have a pretty good idea and she is more devil-may-care about the whole thing anyways.

                                                                          I guess my main point though was that some people are going to expect the impossible, that every time they order a drink that they're going to get some magical concoction that no one has ever seen before. Even on a slow night that isn't very reasonable, but that definitely is the image that a lot of folks I bump into seem to have.

                                                                          1. re: jgg13
                                                                            MC Slim JB RE: jgg13 Feb 3, 2010 07:57 AM

                                                                            Assuming you avoid the peak-period crowds at Drink, which I agree are ruinous to the experience, you can get a novel experience every time, but it takes some work on the customer's part. Unless you have a really good memory, you'll need to take some notes so you can say, "Done that, done that, done that, ooh, there's one I haven't tried!"


                                                                            1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                              jgg13 RE: MC Slim JB Feb 3, 2010 09:25 AM

                                                                              The memory part is key. Thankfully my 3G reception has improved dramatically at Drink so I can consult yarm's site when I'm trying to jog my memory :)

                                                                            2. re: jgg13
                                                                              Tom Servo RE: jgg13 Feb 3, 2010 08:00 AM

                                                                              I certainly see what you're saying here. And sometimes people do expect too much. On the other hand, if a place bills itself as a place for premium cocktails and charges accordingly, I'm less likely to let things slip. I went to a place once and paid 12 bucks a drink. They were out of the proper glass for it and it was served to me in a tumbler. Ok, fine. They can't control that. But then it was just a really weak drink that tasted out of proportion. Really? For 12 bucks? My girlfriend order a drink too and the sugar rim promised wasn't there. I don't like busting chops but if we're going to spend a total of $24 on two drinks, the little things matter.

                                                                              1. re: Tom Servo
                                                                                MC Slim JB RE: Tom Servo Feb 3, 2010 08:06 AM

                                                                                I'd say there are far more Boston bars getting away with that kind of murder, which is why I take the trouble to patronize the handful of good ones.


                                                                              2. re: jgg13
                                                                                Canadian Tuxedo RE: jgg13 Feb 3, 2010 08:25 AM

                                                                                I'm one that always held Drink to a higher standard, in part because of all the crazy positive talk and the concept of no menu = serious exchange with the customer.

                                                                                I could walk to Craigie, Rendezvous, or Green St. and order off the menu (especially if the place was busy), or ask for some guidance off menu if nothing struck my fancy. So when I went to Drink I would hope for that conversation that would result not in something magical or concocted for the first time on the spot, but a drink that wasn't just the closest thing to my description in the bar's current unwritten cocktail menu.

                                                                                I haven't been since this menu board has gone up, so I hope that helps. But since they prided themselves on having no menu, I don't want something that obviously is in an unprinted menu and not really what I was trying to describe.

                                                                                For example, my earlier comment about getting another gin and St. Germain cocktail resulted when I was being served by Misty shortly after they opened one afternoon. So maybe four other patrons in the bar at that point. I wanted a gin drink, heavy on the vermouth, and mentioned that perhaps it would be along the lines of a "50-50." I received this: http://cocktailvirgin.blogspot.com/20...

                                                                                A good drink and perhaps the flavor profile was in the ballpark. But I realized later that the drink sounded familiar when Misty described it to me because I had read about it on the Cocktail Virgin blog several months earlier.

                                                                                So in addition to the Fort Point (which they were batching for the after work rush), the "Means of Preservation" was obviously another drink on the invisible menu. In my opinion, just write them down and if interested in pushing the boundaries the customer can use that list as a jumping off point.

                                                                                1. re: Canadian Tuxedo
                                                                                  yarm RE: Canadian Tuxedo Feb 3, 2010 08:42 AM

                                                                                  "in the bar's current unwritten cocktail menu."

                                                                                  Gertsen described it to me as something like "Even though we do not have a menu, we do have a bar program." The bartenders all are responsible for the same 500 drink recipes or so. How they decide to mentally access them or ignore them unless the drink is requested by name varies by individual bartender.

                                                                                  1. re: Canadian Tuxedo
                                                                                    jgg13 RE: Canadian Tuxedo Feb 3, 2010 09:32 AM

                                                                                    BTW I noticed this weekend that they've revamped the new menu board into a two column affair. The left column is "if you like this" and the right column is "try this". The left column was most of the drinks in the original menu board.

                                                                                    1. re: jgg13
                                                                                      Tom Servo RE: jgg13 Feb 3, 2010 11:51 AM

                                                                                      Slightly off topic but I've never tried Drink and wanted to do so after work on Friday. If we get there by six, is it still going to be a war-zone do you think? I know it gets packed...

                                                                                      1. re: Tom Servo
                                                                                        jgg13 RE: Tom Servo Feb 3, 2010 11:53 AM

                                                                                        I've never gone on a friday (I don't think), but I'd imagine "war zone" or at least more crowded than I'd prefer.

                                                                                        1. re: Tom Servo
                                                                                          MC Slim JB RE: Tom Servo Feb 3, 2010 12:13 PM

                                                                                          Six pm on Friday is too late, in my experience. Big stupid after-work crowds, sequeing into big stupid Friday-night-out crowds.


                                                                                          1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                                            Tom Servo RE: MC Slim JB Feb 3, 2010 12:17 PM

                                                                                            Hmmm. Duly noted. Maybe we'll try to get there right at opening or try another time.

                                                                                          2. re: Tom Servo
                                                                                            ScubaSteve RE: Tom Servo Feb 3, 2010 12:17 PM

                                                                                            6pm can be dicey on a Friday if you absolutely want a Bar Seat.
                                                                                            i've been there some Fridays at 6 that were half full and some that were fairly busy.

                                                                                            also, on Fridays you can sometimes see a thinning of the herd around 630 as the after-workers leave before the night crowd settles in.

                                                                                            i find it best to call when you get close. if they answer they'll let you know the current occupancy rate and if they don't answer assume they're slammed.

                                                                                    2. re: yarm
                                                                                      Canadian Tuxedo RE: yarm Feb 3, 2010 08:09 AM

                                                                                      Yarm, thanks for that bit of insight. I have not been a regular at Drink, but when asked where to get the best cocktails in town I always point people to Craigie instead. I could never put my finger on it, but I always got the sense that at Craigie it is always about the customer while at Drink it is sometimes about the bartender (and not in the trying to get people to drink good cocktails that don't include flavored vodka, but in the general interaction with guests).

                                                                                      That always seemed a bit like I was accusing Drink staff of being divas, which I'm not. So your explanation sounds right to me.

                                                                                      1. re: Canadian Tuxedo
                                                                                        MC Slim JB RE: Canadian Tuxedo Feb 3, 2010 08:32 AM

                                                                                        I love Craigie, have had great experiences with Carey (sp?) there, but it is painful to try to get seated at that bar 95% of the time.


                                                                                        1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                                          Canadian Tuxedo RE: MC Slim JB Feb 3, 2010 08:37 AM

                                                                                          As the kids (used to?) say, true that.

                                                                                          Probably all situational. I work nearby, and until very recently, lived within walking distance to Craigie. So I could time my visits to beat the rush early or late.

                                                                                          But I find the prospect of avoiding the crowds at Drink also painful. And for me there is a much bigger investment in time getting there, so that factors into my calculations.

                                                                                          I also learned the hard way that if I'm planning on an early visit to call ahead and make sure they don't have any special events going on. Those of us who aren't prolific cocktail bloggers or reviewers don't get invites and have to go elsewhere to wait for the time when the general public can enter...

                                                                                          1. re: Canadian Tuxedo
                                                                                            MC Slim JB RE: Canadian Tuxedo Feb 3, 2010 08:48 AM

                                                                                            I've gotten stiffed at Drink a few times by private parties, too, but I can always use the walk from the Red Line.

                                                                                            FYI, I never accept invites to industry / press events of any kind. My non-reviewer self does attend (and pay for) general-public events like the occasional LUPEC shindig.


                                                                                            1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                                              yarm RE: MC Slim JB Feb 3, 2010 09:02 AM

                                                                                              They have gotten better about posting re:private parties on their Facebook fan page. We've about-faced before and gotten back on the subway, although in warmer months, the Franklin Southie isn't that bad of a walk.

                                                                                              1. re: yarm
                                                                                                barleywino RE: yarm Apr 22, 2010 05:04 PM

                                                                                                just a reminder that Franklin Southie, although friendly, isn't one of those places that measures their drinks out with a jigger (with the exception of the bar manager, Joy), it's more "let's just sling some of this and that into the glass and see if the customer notices"...not a place to go if you're serious about your drinks

                                                                                        2. re: Canadian Tuxedo
                                                                                          yarm RE: Canadian Tuxedo Feb 3, 2010 08:39 AM

                                                                                          Curious to see what direction the Craigie bar goes in now that Tommy no longer steers the ship. Tommy's somewhat edgy drink creation isn't something easily replaced.

                                                                                          Also, I do have to add that I have had bad nights at even my favorite drinking establishments and favorite bartenders. They're allowed a bad day at the office too every once in a while, I guess. Although it comes at the expense of your $$ and time, so I understand the anger (my way of dealing with it skipping them in the rotation and coming back later than normal).

                                                                                          1. re: yarm
                                                                                            kimfair1 RE: yarm Feb 3, 2010 09:25 AM

                                                                                            I'm hoping all will remain well at Craigie. Carrie s a helluva bartender, and we had the six course tasting a while back with Paul s our bartender, and he did an amazing job creating a cocktail matches, both to match with each course, but also as a progression of liquors that worked quite nicely. Will they have new funky Tom creations on the menu as often as now? probably not, but I trust (by experience) that the folks taking over for him know what they're doing.

                                                                                            BTW here is a kink to an article about what Tom's doing these days (taking a break), and where he's going (no clue as of yet).


                                                                                            1. re: kimfair1
                                                                                              Canadian Tuxedo RE: kimfair1 Feb 3, 2010 10:05 AM

                                                                                              Great to know that other bartenders at Craigie will match cocktails to the tasting menu. I saw Tom do that once for another customer and was kicking myself for never going for that particular experience before he left.

                                                                                              1. re: Canadian Tuxedo
                                                                                                barleywino RE: Canadian Tuxedo Feb 3, 2010 10:23 AM

                                                                                                aside from their own original creations, I hope they can also reproduce Tom's corn cocktail and threadneedle cocktail this coming summer, among other things

                                                                                            2. re: yarm
                                                                                              jgg13 RE: yarm Feb 3, 2010 09:35 AM

                                                                                              The "time out" method of patroning? :)

                                                                              3. ipsofatso RE: Joanie Feb 1, 2010 12:46 PM

                                                                                Anyone remember Rack from the old Oscar's on Lincoln St?

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: ipsofatso
                                                                                  michela RE: ipsofatso Feb 2, 2010 03:20 PM

                                                                                  Peter Cipriani from Stella & The Franklin is my favorite.

                                                                                2. t
                                                                                  Tom Servo RE: Joanie Feb 3, 2010 07:46 AM

                                                                                  Though he can only apply his trade in limited fashion these days due to Erbaluce not having a full booze license, James who works there is the best mixologist I have ever encountered. When I met him he was working at Highland Kitchen, he made the best drinks I've ever had. He's also a walking encyclopedia of drink knowledge, both practical and historical. He made his own infused vodkas, his own grenadine-- every thing was fresh. It opened up a new world of drinking for me. Whether that's good or bad, you decide ; )

                                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Tom Servo
                                                                                    yumyum RE: Tom Servo Feb 3, 2010 11:12 AM

                                                                                    WOW!!! I love James as a wine enthusiast, but I never knew he was a mixologist as well. What I do know is that he is one of the nicest, chillest, friendliest bartenders in town. And he remembers names, even obscure ones.

                                                                                    1. re: yumyum
                                                                                      Tom Servo RE: yumyum Feb 3, 2010 11:22 AM

                                                                                      He is the ruler by which I measure bartenders. I absolutely love the food and people at Erbaluce and will be back there as often as I can afford it, but if James moonlighted at a bar one night a week, I'd make it my business to get down there ; ) He just a super nice guy as you point out. My girlfriend used to order drinks by whatever color she was in the mood for and James would always come up with something new and match it, which I thought was really nice of him.

                                                                                      1. re: Tom Servo
                                                                                        MC Slim JB RE: Tom Servo Feb 3, 2010 11:24 AM

                                                                                        He has a very limited palette to work with at Erbaluce. Maybe ought to see what Corey is doing over at Coppa with a beer/wine/cordial license: much broader range and a bunch of tasty cocktails within those strictures.


                                                                                        1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                                          Tom Servo RE: MC Slim JB Feb 3, 2010 11:28 AM

                                                                                          James does cordials over at Erbaluce, too. It's still limited obviously when compared to a full bar, but I was as always impressed by what he came up with when we were there for our anniversary last friday.

                                                                                          1. re: Tom Servo
                                                                                            MC Slim JB RE: Tom Servo Feb 3, 2010 12:16 PM

                                                                                            I love Erbaluce, but I am less impressed with the bar, and I think a broader toolkit would help. Beyond wine, he's barely got more than a bunch of amari, a couple of vermouths, and a few orange cordials to work with. Even a genius will find it tough to do many exciting things with that. Why not sloe gin, more vermouths, monastery cordials, genever, pisco, Pimm's, Heering, some other liqueurs?


                                                                                            1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                                              rlove RE: MC Slim JB Feb 3, 2010 01:59 PM

                                                                                              Also, Erbaluce doesn't carry Fernet Branca (although they do have Luxardo Fernet).

                                                                                              Erbaluce is absolutely wonderful, wowing me dish after dish, but their bar is not the star.

                                                                                              I agree about Coppa; Corey (ex-Drink) is doing impressive things within the constraints of a "cordials" license.

                                                                                        2. re: Tom Servo
                                                                                          yumyum RE: Tom Servo Feb 3, 2010 11:26 AM

                                                                                          Agreed about Erbaluce -- it's one of my serious crushes these days. James makes the experience even better, by recommending wines that are perfect while keeping it fun and easy.

                                                                                    2. s
                                                                                      suziequeue RE: Joanie Feb 4, 2010 06:16 PM

                                                                                      I concur, Casey is the best. I never understood why he has never been part of the "best of" awards. Management over there should start promoting him better.

                                                                                      1. n
                                                                                        NHchicka RE: Joanie Mar 14, 2010 08:11 PM

                                                                                        Love this.....

                                                                                        Red Sox season ticket holder and love eating and sitting at Bars and watching the action
                                                                                        Top Bartenders I have ever seen?

                                                                                        Joe McGuirk - Bside, Game On and Highland Kitchen...Old school and fun to watch...turn me and my husband on to the high life
                                                                                        Cousin Dave Cagle - Bside and Deep Elum...boy I miss that place, southern charming bartender
                                                                                        Jamie Walsh- LaMorra and Game On but does anyone know where he is now? Did he quit the bar scene? Greatest one liner bartender ever he is OLD SCHOOL good. Ask him what are the 3 things that never get talked about in a Boston Bar

                                                                                        The Gang at ES- I love this place I wish I came down more


                                                                                        1. MC Slim JB RE: Joanie Apr 23, 2010 06:57 AM

                                                                                          The new guy at Clio is amazing: very ambitious cocktail menu, lots of original creations, serious versions of classics, and authentic Tiki drinks. A huge upgrade there.


                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                                            Canadian Tuxedo RE: MC Slim JB Apr 23, 2010 10:51 AM

                                                                                            I've yet to make it to Clio. Is there a bar at which one can just have a cocktail without eating from either the Clio or Uni menus?

                                                                                            1. re: Canadian Tuxedo
                                                                                              MC Slim JB RE: Canadian Tuxedo Apr 23, 2010 10:54 AM

                                                                                              Yep, Clio has a full standalone bar. Used to drink and not eat there often when I lived closer to it.


                                                                                              1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                                                Canadian Tuxedo RE: MC Slim JB Apr 23, 2010 11:34 AM

                                                                                                Thanks for the information. Not that I don't want to eat from both the Clio and Uni menus at some point, but that is a slightly more expensive proposition than dropping in for a very good cocktail or two.

                                                                                                1. re: Canadian Tuxedo
                                                                                                  MC Slim JB RE: Canadian Tuxedo Apr 23, 2010 11:51 AM

                                                                                                  Clio has a bar bites menu in addition to serving the full menu at the bar, but it ain't cheap: average plate is probably $10-14.


                                                                                          2. k
                                                                                            kimfair1 RE: Joanie Apr 23, 2010 09:48 AM

                                                                                            Recently spotted Tom Guidelli Schlesinger at Eastern Standard, not behind the bar, unfortunately, he was doing front of house, picking up a few shifts for the cash, he told us.

                                                                                            Eastern Standard
                                                                                            528 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215

                                                                                            1. Alcachofa RE: Joanie Apr 23, 2010 10:22 AM

                                                                                              I've heard very good things about Deni (sp?) at Petit Robert, South End. Alas and alack, I have not yet been there to check him out. Supposedly he's a cocktail-experimenting maniac. Anyone on CH had drinks by him?

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: Alcachofa
                                                                                                Nab RE: Alcachofa Apr 23, 2010 10:30 AM

                                                                                                I've had many drinks by'im, but never any "craft cocktails". He's a great bartender. Hmm, maybe I'll start asking him to mix up something more fantsy-pantsy next time.

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