Drinkstajam 2019

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I’ve said many times that the best thing about running this blog is that I get to be part of Boston’s vibrant cocktail community. That means lots of opportunities to learn, grow, and get to know some very cool and talented people.

And in that regard, this past Sunday was a high-water mark of sorts.

Earlier this year, a few of my fellow cocktail bloggers and I decided it was time to do more than just periodically check out new bars and talk shop. We wanted to do something collaborative and productive – a project that would enable us to be supportive of one another’s work while we collectively take a further step into the cocktail world.

The result? Drinkstajam 2019.

Cocktail Collaboration

After a few brainstorming sessions and a couple hundred emails, this is what we landed on: we’d host an event at a bar that would feature an original cocktail menu developed by the eight of us. And it wouldn’t be strictly self-promotional – we’d focus on sustainable cocktail practices, and drink proceeds would benefit the Boston Green Academy, a Boston-area school that prepares a diverse student population for careers in sustainability.

A shot from the prep room.

A shot from the prep room.

The event would be held at Earls Cocktail Lab, would be open to the public, and our base spirits (mostly rum) would be donated by local distilleries.

With that, all we needed to do was come up with a drink list.

Rookie Card

We split up into four teams of two, each charged with crafting a delicious and Instagrammable rum cocktail. Adam Cohen, aka @mrmuddle, and I teamed up and were assigned Bully Boy Boston rum.

Scenes from R&D night.

Scenes from R&D night.

After a week or so of exchanging ideas over email, Adam and I got together for an R&D night. There we made up four drinks, narrowed the field over the course of the evening, and settled on a cocktail we called the Rookie Card (on account of this being our first drink to appear on a bar menu).

  • 2 oz Bully Boy Boston rum

  • ¾ oz fresh grapefruit syrup

  • ½ oz Taylor’s velvet falernum

  • ½ oz grilled pineapple syrup (homemade)

  • 2 dashes Bittermens Elemakule tiki bitters

  • Mezcal rinse

  • Garnish: charred pineapple cubes

Shake all ingredients except mezcal with ice. Rinse a chilled coupe glass with mezcal. Double-strain ingredients into the glass. Garnish with charred pineapple cubes. Photograph relentlessly.

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I can’t tell you what a treat it was to see this drink printed on a menu and to watch people order it. I’d never really collaborated on a cocktail recipe before, and I think Adam and I were both really happy with the final version.

And while I hope this doesn’t come across as self-congratulatory, I can say with all honesty that I would happily order any of the drinks that the eight of us created. I thought everyone rose to the occasion with clever, original cocktails, and I was excited to try the drinks that we’d been talking about for weeks.

The Big Reveal

Katie Stryjewski, better known as @garnishgirl, and Griffith Gall, @beantowncocktail, created a swizzle called the Gov’t Sanctioned Piracy, made with Privateer Amber rum, lime, grapefruit cordial, Aperol, and mint.

Photo by Katie Stryjewski.

Photo by Katie Stryjewski.

Not to be outdone on the swizzle front, Only Med I Can Afford was the work of Claudiane Philippe – @nailthecocktail – and Anthony Mottla, master of branded pins and bitters and known to all as @youngoverholt. This one combined GrandTen Medford Rum, lime, fino sherry, and orange-vanilla syrup.

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Josh Terrill (he goes by @joshterrible, even though he’s not really that terrible) and Alyssa Matesic (@boozy_boston) threw everyone for a curve with a coffee rum/rye milk punch called 42nd Parallel Punch, made with Boston Harbor Putnam rye and Berkshire Mountain Ragged Mountain rum, clarified coffee milk, lemon, amaro CioCiaro, dry curacao, and cinnamon.

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A Thousand Thanks

We had a sellout crowd on Sunday, and I’m so appreciative of everyone who joined us. Needless to say, no event like this is possible without a great deal of guidance and generosity, and we have a bunch of people to thank for making this a reality.

First off, thanks to Amanda Freestone, bar manager at Earls Cocktail Lab, for taking a chance on our unproven idea, and to Earls Kitchen + Bar for hosting us and letting us use their resources.

Thanks also to Lonnie Newburn, owner of the Boston Shaker, for serving as a guest bartender, and to Cocktail Kingdom and the Boston Shaker for donating several beautiful cocktail kits that were raffled off.

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Of course, big thanks to our booze sponsors – Bully Boy Distillers, GrandTen Distilling, Privateer Rum, Berkshire Mountain Distillers, and Boston Harbor Distillery. They all make great juice and they’re generous to boot.

L to R: yours truly, Josh, Alyssa, Adam, Claudiane, Katie, Griff, Anthony, Lonnie.

L to R: yours truly, Josh, Alyssa, Adam, Claudiane, Katie, Griff, Anthony, Lonnie.

And on a personal note, I want to thank Adam, Katie, Griff, Claudiane, Alyssa, Anthony (who doubled as a guest bartender), and Josh (who did more for this event than I can possibly include in this post). You’ve gone from casual acquaintances to good friends, and now collaborators as well. I loved working on this, and I can’t wait for our next adventure.

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