Chatting with Jason Percival, beverage manager at Post 390, is like sitting in on a PhD-level seminar on cocktail creation. He can speak at great length and astounding depth not only on cocktail technique and philosophy but also the nuances of flavor, the ways in which ingredients interact, and the challenges of creating a beverage program that incorporates seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Such encyclopedic knowledge comes in pretty handy when you’re in charge of drinks at a restaurant that emphasizes seasonal dishes made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Post 390’s food program is creative and dynamic, much of its menu changing with the seasons and reliant on the availability of local farmers’ wares.
The cocktails echo that philosophy. Which means Jason’s got his hands full ensuring that what happens behind the bar coincides with what’s going in the kitchen. It also means that the drink menu changes frequently (and some of the drinks listed here have already turned over).
The refreshing Postmaster is one of the mainstays, although its composition changes depending on what’s in season. It was made with Bully Boy vodka, strawberry, black pepper, yellow chartreuse, lemon, and cava when I was there, but Jason said the strawberries would soon give way for peaches or apples.
Lines in the Sand is a tiki-like cocktail that combines gold and dark rum, falernum, Pedro Ximenez sherry, pimento dram, and fresh lime. It’s strong and spirit-forward, but summery and drinkable nonetheless.
The barrel-aged Post Negroni is made with the exceptional St. George Terroir gin, vermouth, and Bruto Americano, St. George’s take on a Campari-like aperitif.
But no drink better demonstrates Jason’s approach than Up from the South, made with tequila, mezcal, suze, lemon – and tomato water. To me, nothing about tomato water sounds particularly interesting or appealing.
But Jason explains in detail the process of making it, the local farm that provides the tomatoes, and why tomato water works in a cocktail. The result – a savory, smoky, vegetal drink with balanced flavors – is outstanding.
The drink also demonstrates a characteristic of the cocktail program that’s easy to overlook: simplicity. With odd elements like tomato water or butternut squash, it may seem like every drink requires an explanation. But the cocktails are actually fairly simple in composition and approachable in flavor. There aren’t overloaded with ingredients, and none of the flavors are so funky that they render the drink a mere boozy novelty.
And just because there are some unusual items on the menu doesn’t mean the bar can’t rock a good ol’ classic.
When I ordered an Old Fashioned, the bartender asked me if I wanted it “traditional, or with fruit”; in other words “do you want a proper Old Fashioned or some abomination with a bunch of mashed orange slices, cherries, and soda water?”
Address: 406 Stuart Street, Boston
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