Naomi Levy Is Shaking Up the Bar Program at Eastern Standard
The Jackson Cannon protégé is bringing a ‘culinary’ philosophy to cocktails.
Naomi Levy had been working in restaurants, both as a server and bartender, for over eleven years before she joined the opening staff at Hungry Mother. But one night, a guest she was waiting on unexpectedly changed her life.
“One night at Hungry Mother I got to serve Jackson Cannon and his wife Beth on their anniversary,” Levy says. “For years I had knowledge of what Jackson was doing over Eastern Standard, but actually getting to meet him and serve him and see what he was all about; it was immediately clear that I wanted to work with him. About six months later I applied for a job and he very clearly remembered that night and hired me on the spot.”
It’s no secret that Eastern Standard has consistently had one of the best bar programs in Boston, largely due to Cannon, who is now the Beverage Director of Eastern Standard, Island Creek Oyster Bar, and The Hawthorne. But it’s also a reflection on the talented staff Cannon helped train, bartenders like Kevin Martin and Nicole Lebedevitch, who became quick mentors to Levy.
Now, four years after starting at Eastern Standard, Levy has assumed the role of Bar Manager. Levy has already trimmed the menu down to “make it a little more focused” and to give her the freedom to change it up more frequently. She also says she’s “bringing a more culinary mindset to the bar” with a seasonal farm-to-table focus.
“I’ve been working closely with one of our chefs here, Matt Garland, on sourcing local ingredients,” Levy says. “He’s been great about getting us some great produce from Eva’s Garden in Dartmouth, stuff that maybe you can only get once a year. We’ve always used a lot of seasonal ingredients, but we’re really honing in getting them even more local and ‘farm-to-table,’ where we’re really focused on the ingredients themselves.”
You can already see Levy’s influence at play in her seasonal section and cocktails like the Sunny Days made with a spring pea-infused tequila or the Peter Cottontail with Lillet Blanc infused with baby carrots and lovage. There’s also her rotating milk punches and Levy’s signature Guayaba Arabica made with guava, lime, coffee, and cilantro—a cocktail which won her top honors at the UCBG’s esteemed Bacardi Legacy Cocktail Competition.
“Eastern Standard is always going to be about the classics, cocktails like the Prospect Park and the Dartmouth Highball,” Levy says. “But I’m interested in putting my own twist on them and really exploring unique ingredients.”
In addition to her culinary philosophy, Levy is continuing to groom the rare craft beer program, a passion project of her predecessor, Kevin Martin. She’s also a Scotch and sherry enthusiast who will be incorporating them more frequently, both straight up and as cocktail components.