Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thursty: Back Bay Social Club

I didn't spend much time at the Vinny Testa's on Boylston, but I'm pretty sure that “Harvey Wallbangers everywhere!” isn't something the bartenders said there too often. Bar manager Tom Mastricola is slinging them out though at Back Bay Social Club, the brand new brasserie that's taken over the space. His variation adds bubbles to the traditional recipe of vodka, orange juice and Galliano. “You don't see many bars going through bottles of Galliano now,” Mastricola says.

That recipe, alongside other unfortunately maligned mid-century cocktail staples like a White Russian mixed with house made coffee liqueur in place of syrupy Kahlua and topped with soda, Mai Tais made with orgeat and falernum and a Stinger with brandy and white crème de menthe, is emblematic of the bar's resuscitating approach. “These are cocktails that people made fun of. I don't think it's fair,” Mastricola says. “A White Russian is a good drink. It doesn't matter what drink you're making as long as you're using fresh ingredients and good spirits.”

Mastricola, who returned recently from a few years in California, was an instrumental part of Boston's cocktail revival. The opening bartender at the influential No. 9 Park, some of his cocktails are still on the menu there ten years later. How does he find the Boston scene changed since he left it? “A lot of people took the ball and ran with it. We at No. 9 and the B Side Lounge had a lot to do with it in the late 90s. It's cool to see what people have done. It's a whole different ball game.”

What He's Having

I'm having the Club High Ball (Sazerac rye and Maine Root ginger beer)”, Mastricola says. “It's a nice spicy rye, and the ginger beer we have, made with real cane sugar and real ginger, is unbelievable. I can drink these all day.”

Back Bay Social Club
867 Boylston St., Boston

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