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June 05, 2008

Boston: A Little Black Book and Some Summer Cocktails

Lauren Clark
Lauren Clark all Deco-ed out.

Guest blogging for the Daily Traveler today is Lauren Clark, a.k.a. LUPEC Boston's Barbara West, a freelance writer and the publisher of Drinkboston.com.

If you're tired of seeing insipid vodka drinks on bar menu after bar menu, the Boston chapter of Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails (LUPEC) is here for you. Bartenders, drinks writers, and spirits enthusiasts make up this group gearing to resurrect nearly extinct drinks (Hanky Panky or Scoff Law, anyone?) and raise funds for local organizations helping women in need in the process.

The group, of which I'm a founding member, recently achieved both goals with its Little Black Book of Cocktails: Namesake & Favorite Recipes. Try the Chartreuse-based Can-Can (recipe below), a gorgeous summertime sparkler. We are giving all proceeds to the Friends Boutique at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, which provides wigs and other items to people dealing with the side effects of cancer treatment--so the ladies can feel lovely again.

Now, about that thriving cocktail scene: Boston has some of the country's best cocktail bars--Eastern Standard, No. 9 Park, Green Street, and the B-Side Lounge, to name a few--and more and more establishments are mixing with classic ingredients and techniques.

At Ken Oringer's tapas restaurant Toro, bar manager Courtney Bissonnette (a.k.a. Contessa of LUPEC Boston) is one of several Boston mixologists having fun with Britain's famous gin-based cordial, Pimm's No. 1 Cup. Her Taza (Spanish for "cup"--it's a play on the classic Pimm's Cup) mixes the citrusy-spicy liqueur with muddled kumquats, agave nectar, lemon-ginger tea, and a splash of ginger beer.

Brad Fichter, bar manager at the Beacon Hill steak house Mooo, does a sophisticated little thing called a Pimm's 15: Hendrick's gin, Pimm's, muddled cucumber, fresh lemon juice, and simple syrup, double-strained and served straight up.

St. Germain elderflower liqueur is another ingredient--new but inspired by vintage herbal elixirs--Boston bartenders are putting in their summer drinks. At Rialto restaurant in the Charles Hotel (Harvard Square), bartender Todd Maul created the quenching Polaris: Plymouth gin, St. Germain, fresh lemon juice, and a dash of fresh grapefruit juice.

And it just isn't summertime without a good margarita. Tremont 647 is doing a Fresh Watermelon Margarita with Milagro Silver Tequila, Patron Citronge, fresh-citrus sour mix, and, of course, fresh watermelon.

In the Happenings category, Boston's only combination classic-cocktail-and-craft beer bar, Deep Ellum, is about to open a patio. Park yourself at an outdoor table and order bartender and co-owner Max Toste's rendition of the classic tiki cocktail, the Zombie. Forget about the overly sweet, chemical-tasting potions you may (or may not) remember from visits to kitschy Polynesian restaurants. Max uses fresh citrus and good liqueurs. Oh, and lots and lots of rum.

Finally, on June 30, Eastern Standard will bring back the Flowing Bowl, as our forefathers once called a communal bowl of punch. These mysteriously mellow mixtures of strong spirits (rum, whiskey, brandy, arrack), sugar, citrus, and sometimes tea, spices, and liqueur were all the rage in the taverns of early America. Look for details about the punch party on Drinkboston.com.

Can-Can
by LUPEC Boston

5 sour cherries
1 oz. yellow Chartreuse
1/4 oz. fresh grapefruit juice
1 dash Angostura bitters
Sparkling wine

Muddle the sour cherries in a mixing glass. Add the Chartreuse, grapefruit juice, and bitters. Shake with ice and strain into a champagne flute. Top with sparkling wine.

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