We’re excited to introduce the Boston.com Cocktail Club, a weekly subscription box and event series highlighting local bartenders who will mix a drink of the week with host Jackson Cannon of Eastern Standard and The Hawthorne. Sign up for our newsletter and join us every Thursday evening to learn about mixing your own cocktails, the local bar scene, and how you can support the industry during COVID-19.
The Boston.com Cocktail Club recently caught up with Craigie on Main’s general manager and The Hawthorne’s former assistant bar director Jared Sadoian who will mix tequila cocktails with host Jackson Cannon on Thursday, Jan. 7 at 7 p.m. Ahead, Sadoian talks about using tequila as a base for Old Fashioned cocktails, getting through the pandemic with a toddler, and how you can support the hard-hit hospitality industry.
What’s your favorite part of the job?
Bartending is such a cool mix of creativity, technical ability, and hospitality. We’re tasked with putting together delicious drinks consistently and quickly, often being asked to be the creative force behind coming up with those drinks in the first place. But you also have the joy of serving that drink directly to a guest, who you can observe (and even talk to) while they drink it — instant feedback! It’s ultimately all part of taking care of the folks who are in your space. The work is balanced in a way that I sometimes feel like being a cook, where you are plating food but often not seeing the guest enjoying it, or a server, where you are taking care of people but have less responsibility over the construction of what you are serving, is not.
What’s something you love about making classic tequila cocktails?
Tequila had, for a long time, such a bad rap — mostly from bad swill many of us endured when we were younger. For some, it was the first and last time! I’ve spent the better part of my bartending career getting folks back on the tequila train, showing them a delicious, well-balanced, and complex spirit. One of the best ways to do this is with cocktails. Something like an Old Fashioned is a very popular drink and to use tequila as a base spirit just pushes the boundaries enough to show off a new spirit in a familiar context to most.
What’s getting you through the pandemic?
The pandemic has been frustrating, depressing, demoralizing — I could certainly go on. That said, the silver lining my wife and I had come to appreciate through it all is the extra time we got to spend with our son, who will turn two this March. We’re very lucky that he is at an age where he will benefit from the added interaction with mom and dad, but not old enough to really remember all the stress, frustration, and cynicism that passed through our household during the year. With a kiddo who learned to walk just after the shutdowns began, we were readily able to make days pass by in a flash chasing a toddler around our apartment.
How will the bar and restaurant industry look in a post-pandemic Boston?
I’ve read a few opinions out there with a doomsday message for restaurants and bars — sure, there are plenty of other ways for folks to get their food and drink, but we provide a social backdrop that is as important (or perhaps more important) than whatever is on the plate or in the glass. I don’t think restaurants and bars are going anywhere. That said, it is absolutely going to be a very different landscape. On a macro level, with so many closures of bars and restaurants across the city, when we’re finally able to put the virus behind us and start getting back to “normal,” what will stand in those now-vacant spaces? Corporate money and larger chains will have the means to spin up faster than the small, independently-owned outlets. And if that turns out to be true, I think we will have an ocean of mediocre options the next time we want to dine out. On a micro level, I think we’ll see some changes to some previously-accepted practices in restaurants, like communal seating, or bars packed to the gills.
What do you miss most from before the pandemic? What don’t you miss?
I have been very fortunate to be able to travel extensively as part of my work. Conferences across the country, touring excited young bartenders through Mexico’s tequila-making region, guest shifts in other countries, etc. Experiencing new locales, new cultures, and the perspective gained from being an observer to “same thing, different place” has been invaluable to my personal and professional life. This is the longest stretch of time that I haven’t been on a plane in probably a decade, and the travel bug is definitely itching bad. On the other hand, the proliferation of bars and restaurants around the city and certainly across the country had led to staffing shortages on both the front and back of house that made for challenging stretches of times when you’d have trouble filling out an entire kitchen schedule, for example.
What’s the one ingredient you always have in your kitchen to make a great cocktail?
Fresh citrus — we always have a few lemons and limes in the fridge at the ready. When I teach cocktail classes to aspiring home bartenders, one of my main tenets is that you can make an exponentially better cocktail with fresh citrus juice than however much money you were planning on spending on top-shelf booze.
What are you hopeful for in 2021?
Other than what I assume everyone else is thinking, “I hope we can put this behind us and get back to normal,” I think I am hopeful for a fresh and healthy re-start to the restaurant and bar scene in this city. We’re an industry of creative types and problem solvers, and through this pandemic — whether we worked through it, closed up shop temporarily or permanently, or were laid off or furloughed, I think we have learned quite a bit and hopefully can apply some of those findings when things return to “normal” to give us the best opportunity to create welcoming, hospitable, and safe environments for our guests and staff alike.
How can people support you or your colleagues right now?
There’s lots that can be done. Order takeout from your favorite local restaurants. Skip the third-party delivery apps (UberEats, DoorDash, Caviar, etc.) and get over there and pick it up. Wear your mask. Say hello to the staff and that you’re rooting for them. Tip well.