Tracy Witkin of Saloon (a fellow bartender pictured is here) digs the libations at new Kendall bar State Park.
Given what I write about, people always ask me what the best cocktail I’ve had recently is, and I always give the same answer: “How did you get this number?”
In truth, I usually don’t have a good answer — choosing between cocktails is like picking which of your children you love the most. (The bitter, dry one from France, of course.) Clearly, this is a subject I’m unfit (as a parent and otherwise) to answer, so I reached out to a bunch of bartenders and managers to ask about the best cocktail they’ve had lately.
Tracy Witkin, Saloon “The drink I’ve had recently that I particularly enjoyed is a house cocktail at State Park called Master Cleanse. It’s a simple play on a Jack Rabbit but with much tastier results.” (It’s made with Laird’s Bonded Applejack, lemon and orange juice, smoked maple syrup, a dehydrated orange peel, dried Tabasco “mash” and sugar rim.) “Together it is savory, sweet and spicy. ... It keeps your attention the whole way through. That rim is the best part of the cocktail, and the smoked maple syrup almost has this meaty applewood smoked taste. It was awesome.”
Sean Woods, Ribelle "Nick's in Worcester stands up to any bar in Boston. A portion of 'American Hustle' was filmed there for authenticity. Aesthetically, the place is awesome. The bartenders are in their 60s and 70s, so those classic cocktails that have come back into popularity today are the same ones they grew up making. I had a Worcester Sazerac. I like any kind of refreshing take on this. It wasn't cheeky, it was just delicious."
Rob Dunn, Lineage “Park in Harvard Square have a really talented bar staff, with a great cocktail list, and it’s one of my favorite bars for craft cocktails. They have a cocktail which I have appreciated on more than one occasion called The Giant Killer.” (It’s made with Four Roses Bourbon, lemon, lavender rose honey syrup and Limoncello.) “It is an easy way to start the night and/or to have before a dinner.”
The bartenders at the Sinclair (pictured here) have Nick Ryan coming back for more. Credit: Erin Baldassari/Metro
Nick Ryan, The Painted Burro "The Jim Reeves at The Sinclair, a blend of El Jimador Tequila Reposado, Fiery Apple Shrub, Cardamaro, Jerry Thomas Bitters and grapefruit, is approachable yet complex. Great herbal balance with the tequila and cardamaro, subtly fruity, slightly bitter yet light. More importantly, I liked it because we work with so much tequila at The Painted Burro. It was refreshing to see and taste a different tequila-based cocktail."
Todd Lipman, Bistro du Midi “The Queens Park Swizzle at The Hawthorne is as bright and vibrant to look at as it is to drink. It has the perfect balance between lime, rum, mint and bitters with a beautiful stratified presentation; if you turn the glass sideways (not recommended) it shows the colors of the Jamaican flag.”
Chris Balchum, Park “While I usually drink straight whiskey drinks, when I’m in the mood for a fun cocktail I go to Toro and get the Verdad y Amor. They infuse hibiscus into tequila and add lemon and ginger. I can’t get enough of it. It also has a house pepper mixture on the rim. It’s delicious and just boozy enough. Toro always has a lively atmosphere to boot, which makes it a great place to be. I usually have a couple of those before moving onto the all-Spanish wines by the glass.”
Phil Marshall, Zebra’s Bistro and Wine Bar "The Hawthorne’s Sherry Cobbler, made with Lustau East India sherry, orange Curacao, muddled fresh berries, and garnished with berries, orange and mint. The sherry cocktail is an old classic, which is cool, but it also tasted awesome, and looked not just beautiful but also fun, with crushed ice, lots of fruit and a funky straw. I thought it was just a really fun cocktail, and it looked like the bar manager was having a good time making it.”
Erin Murtagh, The Salty Pig “I had a cocktail for brunch from Lord Hobo, the James Baxter, that I thought was so perfectly bizarre. They took Green Chartreuse, infused it with Cocoa Pebbles, and mixed it with an egg white, Punt e Mes and Lilet. So many ingredients that sound inharmonious on paper came together soundly in an interesting ode to breakfast. I loved it.”
Tom Tellier, Dante and il Casale “My wife and I recently went to Stephi’s in Southie and I had the Horse and Buggy.” (Made with Buggy Whip whiskey, Pavan orange blossom liqueur, Aperol and Peychaud’s bitters.) “I ordered it because it was a bourbon I’d never had before. It was good. Definitely get it on the rocks. Well balanced, food-friendly.”