Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The bartender recommends

You’re heading up to the bar, it’s crowded, and you don’t have much time to think before you order. You’re probably gonna go with an old standby out of habit alone. For a lot of people that’s either going to be predictable, passe, or straight-up dull. To help you break out of your routine, we asked a few barkeeps what drinks they’re over and what they’d recommend instead.

Vince Donley, bartender, 28 Degrees

Working at a bar with such an abundant and diverse martini list, it always puzzles me when I get asked for something so standard like a Sour Apple Martini (vodka, sour apple pucker, orange liqueur). Starting my bartending career back in college, this was always the drink of choice for young and beginning martini drinkers. Leaving the college and inexperienced drinking days behind us, this drink should be a treasured memory of our past. However, knowing there are martini drinkers out there that prefer a sweeter flavor profile, I try to recommend to them something like our delicious Lemongrass Drop (Hanger One Buddha’s Hand Citron vodka, fresh lemon juice, lemongrass). This tasty martini is a sure winner for anyone looking to deviate off the beaten path. 1 Appleton St., Boston. 617-728-0728. www.28degrees-boston.com

Stefanie Nyberg, bartender, Lucky’s Lounge

The Red Death (vodka, Southern Comfort, Sloe Gin, Triple Sec, orange juice, lime juice) shot is the worst drink to make because it has several liquors in the recipe and it’s nasty. Instead I’d recommend the Washington Apple (Crown Royal, Amaretto, and cranberry juice). 355 Congress St., Boston. 617-357-5825. www.luckyslounge.com

Bertil Jean-Chronberg, general manager, the Beehive

Martinis seem to be over-ordered and a safe choice. I also think people should speak to their bartenders just as they would a waiter. It can be intimidating walking up to the bar. Don’t be afraid to talk to the bartender about what you like and what he or she recommends. Just as the culinary world should not be pretentious to people eager to learn more, the same should go for the world of mixology. I’d really like to see people ordering more cocktails that feature champagne, like the Yellow Jacket (Yellow Chartreuse, St. Germain, lemon). 541 Tremont St., Boston. 617-423-0069 www.beehiveboston.com

Danielle Gage, bartender, Harvard Gardens

Ugh. The French Martini [should disappear] because the ingredients are all sugar-based and poor quality. There are so many other great cocktails with similar ingredients such as a Marlene Dietrich (rye or Canadian whiskey, Angostura bitters, Curacao). 316 Cambridge St., Boston. 617-523-2727. www.harvardgardens.com

Matt Aylward, bartender, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar

The one drink that I could do without ever making again would be the quintessential Long Island iced tea (vodka, tequila, rum, gin, Triple Sec, sour mix, coke) because it makes people go from zero to annoying in one drink most of the time. If you want something with the same bang and effect, I would recommend a Kettle One Vodka dirty martini. To tone it down a notch a Captain Morgan and ginger-ale or a really nice pinot noir before dinner. 217 Stuart St., Boston. 617-292-0808 www.flemingssteakhouse.com

Jessamyn Gangi, bartender, Scampo

To tell the truth, I always try to talk my guests out of a cosmopolitan. Not that it’s passe, or even a bad drink, that’s not the issue. I just feel as though cosmopolitans are ordered out of habit, or because a good bartender has never tried to offer something more exciting or interesting. For instance, I’ll make said guest a Citrus Pomegranate Tea-tini (Sweet Tea Vodka, pomegranate juice, Cointreau, cranberry juice, fresh lemonade). Chances are, they love it. Now I’ve not only gotten them out of their bubble, but they just went from the normal routine to perhaps beginning a memorable night. Say the cosmo is non-negotiable, then why not add ginger or muddled kumquat? I’m just saying, classics are such for a reason and we shouldn’t mess with them. But in my experience, cosmo drinkers are a little more adventurous, they sometimes just don’t know it yet. 215 Charles St., Boston. 617-536-2100. www.scampoboston.com

Patrick Sullivan, director of bar operations, Legal Sea Foods (multiple locations)

Replace a gimlet with the Deadrise. Why? Even though the gimlet is easier to make, we think that the extra effort required to make the Deadrise is worth it. The Deadrise infuses the flavor of muddled cucumbers and grapefruit bitters with the gimlet base of vodka and lime. And it is also great with gin, too. Nothing against the gimlet, it is a tried and true classic and easy to make, but the Deadrise is simply an alternative that has more layers of flavor and tastes delicious. Multiple locations, www.legalseafoods.com.

Boston Globe