Chat with Lauren Clark -- August 16, 2007Lauren Clark of DrinkBoston.com chatted with Boston.com readers about mojitos, single malts, and the perfect martini.
Lauren_Clark: Hello Bostonians, drinkers and curious onlookers. Welcome to this chat. I'm Lauren from drinkboston.com. What're we having?
Aja1__Guest_: Hi Lauren, I'm constantly searching for a "go to" cocktail. I'm not big on fruity drinks, and I've had too many g&t's and martinis. I tend to favor gin, but like most liquors. Any thoughts?
Lauren_Clark: If you like gin, the Negroni is a great go-to cocktail. Most (not all) bartenders know how to make it or can at least be easily walked through it: equal parts gin, Campari and sweet vermouth, on ice or straight up and chilled, with an orange twist. It's a classic.
Jesse__Guest_: Hi Lauren. I would like your opinion in this subject that I feel strongly about. Namely: vermouth, and its importance as an ingredient in order for a drink to be called a "Martini." I don't understand how bastardized drinks such as the "Appletini" or "Chocolate martini" can be even be called martinis at all, since they contain NO vermouth. After all, the martini itself is named after vermouth, is it not? Can we start a campaign to prohibit any establishment from calling a drink a "martini" if it does not actually contain vermouth?? I?m sorry, but apple schnapps and vodka does NOT equal ?martini.? It would be like called an appetizer with bacon and tomatoes a ?fruit salad.?
Lauren_Clark: Oh, you are preaching to the converted, Jesse. It's a losing battle that many of us have been fighting for years. Many young drinkers think that "martini" is synonymous with "cocktail"! But if you set a good example, others may follow. Order your martinis with liberal amounts of vermouth. I talk about the importance of vermouth in a recent post on drinkboston.com.
doog__Guest_: In your opinion, what are the best bars for cocktails in the Boston area that have opened up in the last two years?
Lauren_Clark: In the last two years? Certainly Deep Ellum in Allston -- great beer selection, great cocktail selection. Also Green Street (formerly the Green Street Grill) in Cambridge. For brand new bars, I think the Beehive is way cool -- Boston was long overdue for a joint like that -- but their cocktail list is short as of now.
freelancewinetaster__Guest_: attending a pub crawl on saturday, i think i'll be safe with white wine and not mix. Do you ever mix (i.e. margarita, mixed drink, beer, wine) I think I am too old, so will stick to one genre of beverages. plus i really dont want to deal with a hangover
Lauren_Clark: I only mix if I really pay attention to pacing myself and stick to quality ingredients. Even then, I try to stick with one type of spirit. The killer is having too many drinks of any kind, period. And stay away from the sugary stuff.
bringthedoo__Guest_: Hi Lauren, Great idea for a blog... In your opinion, where can I find the best selection of single malt scotches in and around Boston?
Lauren_Clark: I have seen a great selection of single malts at the Federalist, which is now a steakhouse called Moooo (15 Beacon St.). Don't know if the new incarnation held onto the scotch. Let's see... I'm drawing a blank on other options.
DoubleMan__Guest_: Hi, I am regular reader of your blog and absolutely adore it. I'll start with a tough question. Boston is clearly undergoing a cocktail renaissance, but it seems that most of the focus is on resurrecting classic or forgotten cocktails. Where do you go and who do you look to for innovation and new cocktail creation?
Lauren_Clark: Thanks very much. It is a really good question. At present, I look to the same places for both classics and innovative cocktails. I find that the bartenders who have a good command of the classics -- and I don't just mean recipes but understand balance, temperature, etc. -- are the best at innovating. That said, the places for new, innovative, cocktails I hear suggested a lot include Om in Harvard Square, City Bar in the Lenox Hotel, and Radius, to name only a few.
Mr__Pibb__Guest_: Hi Lauren, what's a classy broad like you doing in a dump like this?
PK__Guest_: Lauren, I love the atmosphere of Eastern Standard, it's a huge step from some Boston bars that have a frat house feel. What other bars have a great mix of cool drinks and cool sophisticated atmosphere?
Lauren_Clark: My short answer is to take a look at the Best Boston bars page on drinkboston.com. Most of my faves are there.
Aja1__Guest_: pronounced as it is spelled? Sounds good...is it shaken? Would you recommend on ice? Served in a martini glass?
Lauren_Clark: Yeah, basically. Stir this drink very well over ice if you're drinking it straight up (yes, in a martini glass or a short rocks glass). I really like it both ways.
cambridge_drinks___Guest_: where is the best Mojito served?
Lauren_Clark: Chez Henri in Cambridge has long been known for its Mojitos. Also try Cuchi Cuchi on Main St. in Cambridge. Just about any swanky bar in the city is serving a pretty decent Mojito, I expect.
DoubleMan__Guest_: A mini-trend right now (hopefully it stays around) is the use of the all-important egg. What do you think might be the next mini-trend on Boston's cocktail scene?
Lauren_Clark: Yes, the egg trend is most welcome. It's a very old, worthy technique that deserves to stick around. Next trends? More newly created cocktails that use the classics as a launching pad. More herbal liqueurs like Benedictine and Chartreuse. Gin is really taking off, and I hope that more people embrace putting whiskey in their cocktails.
Aja1__Guest_: regarding pronounciation: is it a long e or a short e
Lauren_Clark: Ah. Short e (for Americans, anyway).
tina__Guest_: Hi Lauren, I am also a former bartennder and love classic cocktails. Have you ever been to Masala Art in Needham and met Jason Pierce? He creates "custom" cocktails. He has no set drink list. Rather he asks his customers what flavor spectrum they're interested in and then builds them a drink from scratch. He uses a mortar and pestle and blends up spices like green caradmom then tops some of his drinks with Veuve Clicqot demi-sec. i just read a little about you and thought you'd love his work.
Lauren_Clark: Wow, that's awesome. Topping a cocktail with Veuve Cliquot! Oo-la-la. I'll have to pay him a visit. Thanks.
grizzledizzle: Hi Lauren - All time favorite drink that NO ONE in Boston seems to have, Pimm's Cup. Do you know a place in Boston that serves up the Queen's favorite Cup?
Lauren_Clark: You're right, it is rare in this town. You should be able to get a Pimm's Cup on demand at Eastern Standard, No. 9 Park, and Green Street.
Tom__Guest_: What's supposed to be in a Dark-n-Stormy?
Lauren_Clark: This is traditionally Gosling's dark rum and ginger beer. I recommend cocktaildb.com for just about any cocktail recipe out there.
Fernet_Fan__Guest_: Lauren, I love the four places that seem to come often as the top classic cocktail bars. These places seem to have a good selection of Gin and Rye and know how to make classics. The places are 9 Park, ESK, Green Street and B-Side. Are there any places that are flying under the radar in terms of the real classics?
Lauren_Clark: Yeah, check out Deep Ellum and the Independent.
greg__Guest_: so what is your favorite cocktail?
Lauren_Clark: There is not enough time or gigabytes to list them all. Short list: Negronis, Martinis (the classic kind with gin and vermouth!), Seelbachs, Corpse Reviver IIs, Manhattans, Red Hooks, Pegu Clubs...
WikiTikiRoom__Guest_: Hi Lauren. I thought it was a myth that you shouldn't mix different types of spirits. Is it truly a problem?
Lauren_Clark: I think if you are truly all over the place, drinking lots of different kinds of spirits with sugary mixers, you're going to be in trouble. It really comes down to quantity, though, not mixing.
freelancewinetaster__Guest_: no sugary stuff..got it! i do still love malibu and pineapple juice though
Lauren_Clark: Oooh, guilty pleasure. We all got 'em.
bringthedoo__Guest_: If I were stocking the bar in my house, what are my essentials to ensure enough variety for my guests without breaking the bank?
Lauren_Clark: Well, you have to have vodka. Get a basic gin like Plymouth or Beefeater. A mixable rye like Old Overholt. A decent bourbon like Maker's Mark. A couple of liqueurs, like Cointreau, go in a lot of recipes, and don't forget the Angostura and orange bitters. And the fresh-squeezed citrus.
michaelmr__Guest_: how about a great margarita? I figure I should look for white tequilia, but want to know where to go and what to ask for specifically.
Lauren_Clark: Most margarita enthusiasts go for a 100% agave tequila. I don't think you have to use anything really fancy. Just get the proportions right and use fresh lime juice. The triple sec or Cointreau should provide all the sweetness you need.
DoubleMan__Guest_: We have a number of great cocktail bars and a good selection of great beer bars, but where are the good (and affordable) wine bars? Beyond Les Zyg and Troquet I can't think of much. It's strange to be lacking in that genre in this city.
Lauren_Clark: Yeah, I love Les Zyg. I've heard good things about Bin 26 Enoteca. Vinalia's OK. I think we could use more down-to-earth wine bars, for sure.
jme_2__Guest_: These old taste buds are seeking bars and stores where I can find rye whiskies other than Old Overholt and Jim Beam.
Lauren_Clark: Of course! Try Blanchard's, Marty's, the Wine & Cheese Cask, and even NH State liquor stores. Look for Sazerac and Rittenhouse. The demand for rye in recent years has kind of caught the quality producers with their pants down -- there's a lot of rye aging in casks right now, I think.
SamAdams__Guest_: Hey Lauren, What's your take on the new Boston Lager glasses? Do you feel as though we may see other beers get their own glass or is it more likely the traditional glasses will stay in favor?
Lauren_Clark: I think it's a cool idea. The Belgians certainly understand that certain beers are better in certain glasses, and that the shape of the glass can affect how you perceive hop aroma, etc. We Americans brew so many different types of beer that getting on board the glassware train makes sense.
Flat_Top__Guest_: Hey Lauren, congrats on the oub!
Lauren_Clark: Thanks. Sorry, but what's an oub?
Wally__Guest_: Lauren, which Boston area bars come to mind for nice selections of Singlemalt scotches?
Lauren_Clark: Someone already asked that question; take a look at the transcript.
bconn__Guest_: who was the best expresso martini in the city
Lauren_Clark: This is either someone who knows me really well or doesn't know me at all. Trick question. There's no such thing as a good "expresso martini."
DoubleMan__Guest_: Many chefs offer cooking classes at their restaurants, do you know of any bars that offer bartending classes? I would pay a decent amount to learn some hands-on drink-making from John Gertsen (Or Jackson Cannon, or Misty, or....), for sure.
Lauren_Clark: Yeah, so would I! Off the top of my head, I can't think of any bars that offer classes (these folks are too damn busy making drinks). But I believe there is a mixology class at Harvard Extension School.
Vegas__Guest_: As a previous bartender myself, finding a cocktail made right is a 50/50 thing. Which bar/pub are among some of your favorite(s)?
Lauren_Clark: You can find the answer on my Best Boston bars page on drinkboston.com.
WorkWithBierGuy__Guest_: So What's in a name? I want a vodka w/simple syrup and pom juice, I ask for a Pom Martini (yes, I know . . . shudder), I get what I want. So who's hurt by that?
Lauren_Clark: Absolutely no one. Cheers!
Vegas__Guest_: what's a popular drink today? cosmos are kinda out, so what now?
Lauren_Clark: Mojitos are still hugely popular. I would say, forget about what's popular and think about the flavors you like. Then find a knowledgable bartender who can mix a drink to your specs.
Aja1__Guest_: In Greece, a common drink was a gin fiz (not sloe gin). It was gin, superfine sugar (not a lot), lime juice and club soda. I've ordered it in the states twice and was dissapointed to receive a sloe gin fiz...is what I had in Greece not a recognized drink here?
Lauren_Clark: Yeah, that's a shame. When I learned to bartend, I learned that a Gin Fizz was with Sloe Gin. I didn't think there was any other kind. Only the bartenders who know their cocktail history would know how to make a (non-Sloe) Gin Fizz.
elsie__Guest_: why do they only partly fill wine glasses, even small glasses
Lauren_Clark: So that the wine can breathe and the aroma swirls around in the bowl of glass. Mmmm.
Mikki__Guest_: Lauren - Unfortunately, my taste for cocktails is not that strong anymore, and I am becoming quite the beer goddess. Where do you think you can grab a pint of something decent, with a good selection to choose from. (Miller High Life is NOT a selection!!)
Lauren_Clark: A woman after my own heart. The Publick House and Deep Ellum are absolute must-visits. The two Bukowski Taverns (Boston and Cambridge) and the Sunset Grill also have great selections of beer from all over the U.S. and the world. Prost!
the_hajj-inator__Guest_: wow lauren... you're such a cool cocktail maven... that's a fantastic title
Lauren_Clark: Thanks, Laura. Now get back to work.
doog__Guest_: What bar do you think has the best martini? manhattan?
Lauren_Clark: Eastern Standard, No. 9 Park, Green Street, B-Side, the Blue Room, Silvertone, Deep Ellum. That's my short list.
elsie__Guest_: How are bourbon and rye used in cocktail? How are different from whiskey or scotch?
Lauren_Clark: When I say whiskey I mean bourbon or rye. I specify scotch, because its flavor is more distinct and it should be used with care in cocktails. My advice? Go to cocktaildb.com and type "bourbon" or "rye" into the Ingredients window. Then be amazed at the number of recipes that come up. These spirits were a staple in old cocktails.
KenLac__Guest_: Hello, I'm a newbie to the scene who is getting up to speed with enthusiasm (and will be spending a LOT of time reading your blog!). -- Sometimes I toy with the idea of opening a lounge someday. Where do you see the Boston scene being in 3 to 5 years? And will we ever become a true cocktail town instead of a beer-and-wine town?
Lauren_Clark: We are becoming a true cocktail town as we speak. From what I know, the biggest barrier to opening a bar in Boston is the scarcity and thus the cost of liquor licenses. I don't see that changing anytime soon, unfortunately.
Chatty_Kathy__Guest_: I love Zima, are there any mixed drinks that you can recommend that may include Zima? Thanks, love your website!!
Lauren_Clark: Yes, try Zima, Hawaiian Punch and milk with a dash of bitters over ice. Mmm.
Butchrod__Guest_: Can yuoui give me your receipe for a great cozmo
Lauren_Clark: Not a big Cosmo fan myself, but Dale DeGroff perfected the drink and includes it in his excellent book The Craft of the Cocktail.
hajjinator__Guest_: hey lauren... what's your hangover cure trick?
Lauren_Clark: Constantly drink water as you consume alcohol. Eat something. In the morning, Exedrin or BC Headache Powder and a big breakfast.
arntzville__Guest_: Hi Lauren, I'm really looking forward to the Chartreuse event on Sunday, and I enjoyed the champagne one as well (I keep meaning to throw a Black Velvet party one of these days). Any plans for "what's next" for an event, or are you making it up as you go?
Lauren_Clark: I'm pretty much making it up as I go. If you want to get on my events-announcement list, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MilkandHoney__Guest_: Hey Lauren - I agree with you that people should embrace whiskey in their cocktails. I also think that Scotch if mixed properly can make a mean cocktail - although Scotch purists faint at this idea. Have you tired anything good with Scotch in it?
Lauren_Clark: Yeah, Scotch purists have to relax a bit. I wouldn't put a top-notch single malt in a cocktail, but a decent blend or lower-end single malt works fine. I know John Gertsen at No. 9 makes a great scotch cocktail (the name escapes me), and Misty at Green Street mixes a Peanut Malt Flip with scotch. Seriously, you have to try it to believe it.
Smafu__Guest_: Hi Lauren, love the site. Do you venture out of Boston much? I have heard good things about a martini bar in Reading, MA called The Venetion Moon. It seems to have a wide variety of alcohol and Italian cuisine. Has this been on your radar???
Lauren_Clark: I don't know that bar, will keep it in mind.
doog__Guest_: What is in a Red Hook? I'm assuming the one on the ESK cocktail list? There is no such drink listed on the cocktaildb website. Thanks.
Lauren_Clark: Red Hook: 2 oz rye, 1/2 oz Punt e Mes (a sweet vermouth-like spiced wine), and 1/4 to 1/2 oz Maraschino liqueur. Stirred very well over ice and served straight up.
Lauren_Clark: Thanks to everyone who chatted today. I've gotta go now. Feel free to contact me through drinkboston.com. -- Lauren