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December 17, 2011

I meant to mention my visit to Barbara Lynch’s highly praised craft cocktail bar last week, but I got caught up in judging my first Boston Debate League tournament and being summoned home for the rest of the weekend to be with the just-got-into-college boy. Reviewing last weekend just reminded me that I should respond to an email from Boston Debate.

We started off at this glass and wood waiting bar that runs along the outer edge of the entire space made up of little natural history displays and soft lights but did make it to the actual bar for our second round of drinks. I enjoyed watching one of the bartenders chip and hack large blocks of ice in her hands with a long silver mixing spoon. She also demonstrated considerable commitment to shaking her cocktail shaker. Sometimes I stare at artisans.

But anyways, Drink was a very nice experience. I think it might be the first craft cocktail bar that I have been to – I differentiate The Violet Hour as a revival speakeasy with craft cocktails because the projected atmospheres were pretty different. Certainly, both places had poised and knowledgeable staff, but The Violet Hour invested in the mood of the entire experience whereas Drink lets the drinks do the talking. Me being me, I did my little bit of research ahead of time and already knew that I would be starting the evening with The Fort Point: invented at Drink, named for the upscale neighborhood Drink calls home, and attractive to me because of my fondness for whiskey, bitters, and cherry. I’m far less adept at analyzing alcohol than food, but to me, The Fort Point was mellower than the Manhattan while still maintaining an assertive flavor. I liked it a lot along with the expensive candied not-s0-bacon cashews and very tasty, long, and fluffy (on the inside) french fries we had as bar snacks. In fact, I read that the Fort Point is two drinks separated from the Manhattan – its more immediate inspiration The Red Hook, a variant of the Brooklyn. So I might have some cocktail lineage tracing and tasting to do.

Is Drink Boston’s first craft cocktail bar? At least, the first one to indirectly yet effectively encourage everyone to give their bartender a flavor profile and see what is made? Because when Drink comes up in conversation, I hear the most excitement over being able to tell your bartender what you like in a drink and having a drink made to your liking – but isn’t that the whole idea of a craft cocktail bar? Maybe other craft cocktail bars don’t generate buzz around this foundational drinker-bartender information exchange and production. But anyways, I have had a hankering for St. Germaine since the summer of 2010 when St. Germaine + sparkling white wine seemed to be at every food event in Chicago. My Drink bartender was kind enough to give me my St. Germaine in grapefruit juice with fizz and it was a wonderful refreshing drink that was very easy on the eyes.

My company had a fine Dark and Stormy made with the house ginger beer – while I was very impressed with the burst of fresh ginger, I prefer my Dark and Stormy to be a little more dark and stormy. I wonder what rum they used. My roommate told the bartender he liked garlic and received a yellow libation labeled as BONECRUSHER on our bill. There was cocktail salt in it that did look like bits of minced garlic. It had a strong odor that almost resembled garlic and was salt. I’ve decided that salty is not a taste I like in my cocktails. I much preferred his first drink which looked dark purple (in the bar light, at least) and tasted of herbal grasses and preserved plum (to me – it was supposed to be savory and I think my impression was very different from theirs).

The cocktails were $11.21 each and I felt like Drink was a great experience except for the mess of a bathroom I visited right before leaving. I think one might get the most out of Drink if one is looking to explore a particular set of their preferences for cocktails with an able bartender. Or, you know, if you want to impress someone by taking them to the craft cocktail bar everyone in Boston is talking about. I think Drink lives up to the hype but the hype could be bigger so that Drink could rise to the occasion.

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