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Boston's Brightest

A peek into the world of some of Beantown’s biggest bar talent.

 

In our January/February 2011 issue, we travel to Boston, where you can find some of the most inventive and well-crafted cocktails in the country. But to find out a little more about the people behind those amazing cocktails, we recently checked in with six Boston-area bartenders on everything from where they find their behind-the-bar inspiration to what drink they’d rather never mix again. Here’s what they had to say.



jackson-cannon_qa_200x245JACKSON CANNON, Eastern Standard

Bartending since: 1998.


I knew I wanted to work behind a bar when: I had my first drink at the B-Side Lounge.


Proudest accomplishment behind the bar: Turning the reins over to a young lieutenant when he or she is ready to run a night, hanging back to let the magic happen.


Definition of the perfect cocktail: Balanced objectively, but calibrated subjectively to please the recipient specifically.


I find inspiration in: Cookbooks (for flavor combinations), travel writing (for understanding the mood and vibration of places I may not have been able to visit yet) and historical fiction (naming game!).


Can’t mix drinks without: Bitters.


At the end of my shift I pour myself a: Smith & Cross and sometimes a Jever.


Favorite thing about working behind a bar: A combination of kitchen-like camaraderie with staff with the immediacy and satisfaction of performing for and with the guests.


Least favorite thing about working behind a bar: Re-stocking.


Favorite drink to mix: an Old Fashioned.


I’d be happy never mixing another: Pickleback shot—it's crap, people!


The one thing I wish more people understood about bartending: That they need to participate if they want the best service.


If bartenders had superpowers, mine would be: Jedi mind tricks—“these aren't the cosmos you’re looking for...."


If I wasn't bartending I'd be: A stay-at-home dad.

 

 

 

carrie-cole_qa_316x200CARRIE COLE, Craigie on Main
Bartending since: College (1991), but there was a long stretch where I was in the kitchen as a pastry chef. I’ve been bartending this time around since 2005.


I knew I wanted to work behind a bar when: When a bartender in a club wiped the mouth of every bottle of beer I ordered. It was such a simple, caring gesture that made me feel special. I wanted to do easy things that had big impact.


Proudest accomplishment behind the bar: The welcome I feel when I go to another bar.


Definition of the perfect cocktail: The one that makes a person close their eyes and sigh.


Most unusual drink request I’ve ever received: "Bartender's Choice: bitter, kinda sweet, very dry, strong and light."


I find inspiration in: The colors I think of when I take the cap of a bottle and take a long deep whiff of the aromas inside.


I can’t mix drinks without: Jiggers.


At the end of my shift I pour myself: A beer.


Favorite thing about working behind a bar: The relationships I get to have with guests. Watching and guiding them on their little journey with me for a while is exciting and fun.


Least favorite thing about working behind a bar: The number of things that can be sticky. Sticky makes my skin crawl.


Favorite cocktail to mix: A Negroni.


I’d be perfectly happy never mixing another: Toronto. Haze all you want, I don't love this drink.


The one thing I wish more people understood about bartending: How helpful it is to give some direction until I have made you about 10 drinks. Walking into a new bar and saying, “Bartender's Choice” is just gambling for us both. Help me learn what you like and then we can have some fun.


If bartenders had superpowers, mine would be: Universal charm. I have charm in abundance, but when people don't get me/like me they really don't get me or like me.


If I wasn't bartending I'd be: A UN diplomat.




evan3_qa_216x301EVAN HARRISON, Deep Ellum
Bartending since: I realized my liberal arts degree was practically useless.


I knew I wanted to work behind a bar when: I set foot into the B-Side Lounge.


Proudest accomplishment behind the bar: Meeting the woman of my dreams and all of my closest friends.


Definition of the perfect drink: Balanced, honest and stiff.


Most unusual drink request I’ve ever received: "Something interesting—with vodka."  Though not as uncommon as I would like.


I find inspiration in: My peers, co-workers, neighborhood bars and our gracious regulars.


I can’t mix drinks without: Ice.


At the end of my shift I pour myself an: Ice-cold Budweiser and a shot of Fernet.


Favorite thing about working behind a bar: Playing music for the crowd.


Least favorite thing about working behind a bar: Being thirsty with wet feet, bad knees, muscle spasms and glass cuts.


Favorite cocktail to mix: The one that won them over.


I’d be happy never mixing another: Dirty Martini.


The one thing I wish more people understood about bartending: Our job is to accommodate our guests, so relax and let us take care of you.


If bartenders had superpowers, mine would be: Telepathy.  It would avoid so many awkward interactions.


If I wasn't bartending I'd be: In graduate school.

 

 


misty-kalkofen_qa_200x297MISTY KALKOFEN, Drink
Bartending since: 1996.


I knew I wanted to work behind a bar when: I was thrown back there one night when one of the bartenders pulled a no-call, no-show. I was hooked after one night!


Proudest accomplishment behind the bar: Any time a guest leaves happy and satisfied.


Definition of the perfect cocktail: Balanced.


I find inspiration in: Cookbooks and my guests.


I can’t mix drinks without: Water of some sort, preferably frozen.


At the end of my shift: John Gertsen cracks open a Reading Lager for every member of the staff.


Favorite thing about working behind a bar: The people I meet.


Least favorite thing about working behind a bar: The hours.  I love working nights, but I wish they didn't go quite so late.


Favorite cocktail to mix: Old Fashioned.


I’d be happy never mixing another: Long Island Iced Tea.


The one thing I wish more people understood about bartending is: That making drinks is only a small portion of the job. A good bartender is at times a therapist, a professor, a comedian, a concierge, a matchmaker and so much more.


If bartenders had superpowers, mine would be: To read minds!


If I wasn't bartending I'd be: Doing something that would allow me to travel frequently.

 

 

 

todd-maul3_qa_300x198TODD MAUL, Clio
Bartending since: 1998.


I knew I wanted to work behind a bar when: I took a couple years off from tending bar full time and found myself working somewhere part time just because I missed it.


Proudest accomplishment behind the bar: What I’m doing now at Clio with the help of Doug, Renae and Chris.


Definition of the perfect cocktail: Having a beginning, middle and end.


Most unusual drink request I’ve ever received: In 1998, from a gentleman (with whom I later became friendly) who came in and asked for a Jimmie Roosevelt. When I didn't know of it, he quietly pushed in his barstool and said he would be back when I knew how to make one. That led me to find Charles H. Baker’s book.


I find inspiration in: The kitchen at Clio—the technical way they approach food can be translated to the bar.


I can’t mix drinks without: A jigger.


At the end of my shift I pour myself a: PBR.


Favorite thing about working behind a bar: Meeting people. I’ve made some very dear friends.


Least favorite thing about working behind a bar: When you’re having an off day—everyone has a front seat.


Favorite cocktail to mix: The one for a regular, so they don’t have to ask.


I’d be happy never mixing another: Drink for “Cosmo experts,” and I’m not ragging on Cosmos.


The one thing I wish more people understood about bartending: That the old myth is true—bartenders can solve all of your problems.


If bartenders had superpowers, mine would be: That guy who hangs around the Hall of Justice and drinks bad beer and critiques the real super heroes with comic relief.


If I wasn't bartending I'd be: I have no unfulfilled wish—I’m a husband, a father and I get to make drinks and furniture on the side; I’m really lucky.




hugh-reynolds_qa_200x267HUGH REYNOLDS, Temple Bar
Bartending since: 1989.


I knew I wanted to work behind a bar when: In 1986 I had a job as a server at the Ground Round where they asked me to help on the weekends and dress as Bingo the Clown during lunch to entertain kids. Well, the kids were more terrified of Bingo than anything else, so the GM told me to stand outside on the sidewalk and hand out balloons. While I was out there, the only thing diverting my attention from the burning sensation the old, cheap clown make-up was giving my face were the occasional insults hurled from the windows of cars driving by. After about 45 minutes of this, one of the bartenders pulled into the parking lot in his new shiny red IROC-Z, blaring Billy Idol and his car stuffed with big-haired girls. I have never been that excited about muscle cars or big-haired girls, but at that moment I thought he probably had a better thing going on than I did, and I decided bartending might be the way to go.


I find inspiration in: The kitchen. During my tenure in the restaurant business I have had the good fortune of working with some very creative chefs and find myself constantly drawing from my experiences with them.


I can’t mix drinks without: A Boston shaker and a pint glass.


Favorite thing about working behind a bar: When a guest comes in to the bar after having a bad day and I can lift them up with some great drinks and help them shake the dust off the day.


Least favorite thing about working behind a bar: The late hours. While it’s not without some benefits, I’m not always fond of having the opposite work schedule of the rest of the world.


At the end of my shift I really enjoy: A Pisco Sour. In fact, I'd love one just about any time.


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Check out our Jan/Feb 2011 issue for a full feature on Boston's best bars.