When we first heard about Hit Wicket, the cricket bar that opened earlier this summer in Inman Square, we had a some questions. Namely, what the hell is cricket, anyway?
OK, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but the sport — hugely popular throughout the rest of the world, particularly in the former strongholds of the British empire — is still largely ignored around these parts. They'd like to remedy that at Hit Wicket. At the very least, they'd like to provide a place for converts and old fans to watch a game, says co-owner Nada Heredia. The bar's walls, decked out with cricket bats and game photos, might tip you off to this mission.
“The idea behind Hit Wicket is to provide a platform, in the mainstream concept of a sportsbar, for Americans to get to know cricket and for die-hard cricket fans to have a meeting point to watch, discuss and debate cricket,” she says, noting that — this being Boston — there's plenty of room for our hometown teams on the tube as well.
The bar menu, like the food, focuses on beers and spirits from major cricket playing nations, with a decidedly Indian focus. Kingfisher, India's most popular beer, is on tap, a rare find around Boston watering holes. Old Monk 10,000, an Indian “American malt liquor”-style beer, is available in 22 oz bottles, though it must be said that it's a bit of an acquired taste. The Indian Old Monk rum, on the other hand, is a must try. Be warned, though, that it's intense, with an extraordinary vanilla, caramel, and molasses profile. Try mixing it with cola, coffee, or — better yet — soda water with lime.
Many of the cocktails on the menu take their names from cricket terms. The Sticky Wicket (the euphemism comes from a cricket term describing difficulties caused by a damp pitch), for example, which starts with salty caramel vodka, rinsed with Glenfiddich, and comes finished with a salt rim. It's an intriguing sip and, thankfully, the smoke from the Scotch and the salt rim dial back the sweetness. You wouldn't want to have more than one, and would be best off saving it for after dinner.
Another interesting recipe is a cocktail that serves as a dinner within itself. The Vodka Puri is made with vodka, date chutney, pani puri mix (traditional Indian cooking style spices), mint, and cilantro. It's served with little pani puri bites (crispy flour shells filled with potato) into which you pour the cocktail before eating. It's the most savory, spicy cocktail I've ever had — and certainly something of a novelty — but, like the game of cricket itself, it's worth trying...if only to see what the rest of the world is so excited about.