Booze Époque. Mission statement: "boutique cocktails & spirit alchemy for private parties and events." Honestly, that is just the tip of the iceberg, co-creators Meaghan Sinclair and Harmony Dawn Kelly bring even more to the table. Wow, did they blow me away with a high level of skill (leaps and bounds over me) and more importantly, hospitality. We were friends who had not yet officially met; I was graciously welcomed into Meaghan's home, which by the way, is laid out for epic parties. I felt like a wide-eyed kid in a candy store, peering into a case full of bottles, baskets of fruits and herbs, glassware and bar tools.
These ladies both have worked esoteric jobs from therapist to tarot reader (that's pretty much what a bartender is anyway, right?). Harmony's family owned the Honey Lounge on the site that now houses The Pour House in the back bay, Meaghan's father (bartender and chef) worked on Legal Sea Foods original chowder recipe. The bar and hospitality world is clearly in their genes. But it took days of bartending at 2011 Burning Man to achieve their eureka moment (lots of people, I'm sure have these moments at such a festival and never end up acting on their epiphany). "We were sick of our jobs, thought let's get serious and jump in." Meaghan continues, "we knew the hurdles we might have, but let's elevate this and make it fun!" That's an understatement, by the way- Booze Époque has done more- weddings, pop-ups, competitions, drinks in a peach orchard on Martha's Vineyard, classes at Cambridge Adult education, even Kentucky Derby parties. They make an event an experience.
For me, they lined up careful rows of syrups, tinctures and garnishes which added to the kitchen's wonderful apothecary feel. Lemon, lavender- fennel, lemon grass, lemon thyme- cinnamon- Cocchi Americano (aperitif wine like Lillet) soaked raspberry- brandied maple cranberries- home-brined olive- ginger peppercorn- burnt Taza chocolate and caramel- hot pepper shrub- I was wonderfully overwhelmed. Meaghan's husband Pete arrived and showed off his very clean, pure, orange bitters. He makes his own bacon (as if I didn't love this group enough) which led to a taste of bacon infused Bourbon, then spicy pickled green beans, perfect for a Bloody Mary- or the juice for a pickle-back sip after a shot of whiskey. Flavors and smells swirled around me, I was, indeed in a different era.
Harmony and Meaghan kept my mini-event going, time for a Spring cocktail, a play on the famous Ramos Gin Fizz. Harmony called it the "Ostara, goddess of Spring, who's celebration eventually became our modern day Easter." These women are fabulous, I guarantee you'll being seeing a lot more of them in every season.
2 ounces Barrel Aged Ethereal gin
1 ounce Meyer lemon juice
1 ounce Ostara Syrup (see recipe below)
1/2 ounce cream
1 egg white
1 sprig lemon thyme leaves removed
2 inch piece of fresh lemongrass separated
1 ounce NOS'd Ostara Soda (see recipe below)
Add all ingredients to a shaker, muddle lemon thyme and lemongrass, dry shake. Add ice, shake vigorously for several minutes. Strain into glass. Garnish with thyme, lemongrass, and fennel.
1 Meyer lemon zest twist
1/4 cup lemongrass
1/3 cup chopped fresh fennel
1 sprig lemon thyme with leaves pulled off
1/8 cup fresh fennel fronds
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
Bring to boil then simmer for 40 minutes (see note below)
Strain out fennel at 20 minutes, add same amount of fresh ingredients at 20 minutes and cook together for another 20 minutes. Strain.
NOS'd Ostara Soda
3 ounces water
1 ounce Ostara syrup
Add to whipped cream maker, discharge nitrous cartridge, shake.
Flaming an orange peel’s oil imparts a wonderful burnt orange character that enhances a variety of cocktails. Plus, it looks super cool.
The legendary Dale Degroff even flamed an orange peel over Madonna’s Cosmopolitan in the late 80’s at the Rainbow Room in New York- could this have been the start of our present cocktail revolution?
I guess I need some kind of disclaimer, like... professionals only (assuming I'm a professional in the first place). Here’s what you do: slice a quarter-sized peel off an orange without going deep and removing too much pith. Hold the circular sized peel with the outside rind facing the drink (the oil is on the exterior of the orange skin) between your thumb and index finger. An inch above your cocktail, light a match with your opposite hand and snap the orange peel near the flame by pressing your index finger and thumb together. This action sprays orange oil toward the match flame, catching briefly on fire and covering the cocktail with burnt orange.
If this seems too complicated here’s more fire fun (insert second declaimer here: fire is dangerous, even Beavis thinks so). Pour some Green Chartreuse onto the rim of your close friend’s Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. Its high proof will allow it to catch flame and presto- hipster beer Pu-Pu Platter! Blow it out, don't get burned and enjoy.
Martinez 2 oz Gin, .75 oz Sweet Vermouth, .5 oz Maraschino Liqueur, 1 dash Angosura bitters (original recipe calls for orange bitters).
Stir ingredients with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Burnt orange peel garnish.