Drinks

Virtual Happy Hour Alert: Tip These Nine Boston Bar Teams for Their At-Home Cocktail Recipes

Miss going out to a bar? Us, too. Here, local bartenders share drinks you can make at home (really!)—and online funds where you can "tip" out-of-work staff.


Sam Treadway at Backbar

Sam Treadway at Backbar. / Photo by Alex Lau

Massachusetts bars and restaurants are in the midst of their second week of being closed for on-premise service—which means that tipped employees, like bartenders, are out of work. However, in lieu of government support for the service industry at this point, many local establishments have taken matters into their own hands and shared online funds where fans can support these workers. As for those of us working from home? Well, at this point you’re probably getting pretty darn tired of making run-of-the-mill gin and tonics to satisfy cocktail cravings over a virtual happy hour. So we asked bar managers with accounts set up for their employees to share some recipes: From simple at-home infusions to spiced syrups, these will add a few new tricks to your home-bartending game. Check out the at-home cocktail recipes below, then “tip” the team that provided the tips.

Backbar

Venmo: @backbarunion

Sam Treadway, who owns this whimsical speakeasy in Somerville, has been keeping busy by sharing cocktail demos on YouTube. He is also selling $10 raffle tickets via Backbar’s online store, with 100% of proceeds going to benefit out-of-work staff (75% of other merchandise sales support them at this time). Also available in Backbar’s online store: A clove-infused aromatic spray, which is used in this house classic, Model-T, named for the Backbar building’s history as a Ford dealership built in the 1920s.

Model-T

1.75 oz.  aged bourbon (like Jim Beam Black)
.75 oz. sweet vermouth (like Carpano Antica)
.5 oz. yellow chartreuse
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Clove-infused aromatic spray (available at backbarunion.com)

Stir ingredients together with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass that has been rinsed with a clove infused aromatic spray. Garnish with a cherry if you have it.

The Beets Kneets is one of Joe Choiniere’s most popular drinks at Forage. It uses a simple infusion made with beets and aquavit. / Photo courtesy of Forage

Forage

Venmo: @foragecambridge

Bar manager Joe Choiniere uses small-batch spirits and seasonal, local ingredients to complement the farm-to-table ethos of this Cambridge restaurant. He shares a recipe for one of Forage’s most popular drinks, the Beets Kneets, which calls for beet-infused aquavit. A common Scandinavian spirit that has herbaceous flavors of caraway and dill, any brand of clear aquavit will do, says Choiniere. To make “aquabeet,” add one chopped-up beet to two cups of the spirit in a nonreactive container. Allow to infuse for 24 hours. Strain into a bottle and use within one week.

The Beets Kneets

1 oz. vodka
1 oz. Aquabeet (recipe below)
.5 oz. lemon
.5 oz. honey
1 dash ginger bitters (Angostura will do as well)

Build in a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake hard for 20 seconds. Strain into a coupe. Garnish with a lightly charred sprig of rosemary.

Alden & Harlow, Waypoint, and Longfellow Bar manager Dan Pontius created this cocktail at home, for home. / Photo provided

Longfellow Bar

Venmo: @LF-AH-WPStaff

Bar manager Daniel Pontius oversees the award-winning bar programs at all three of chef Michael Scelfo’s restaurants: Alden & Harlow, Waypoint, and Longfellow Bar. The latter orchestrates its seasonal cocktail menus around inspiring albums, with drinks named for each track on the record. For this at-home cocktail, though, Pontius was inspired by the simplicity of making cocktails in his pajamas for his girlfriend at home. “This seemed appropriate,” he says. Cheers to that. Pontius used the French amaro, Suze, which is earthy, bitter, and floral, but he says any bitter amaro will do for this drink.

M.A.S.H

2 oz. gin
.75 oz. simple syrup (equal parts white sugar and water, simmered on low heat until sugar is dissolved, then cooled)
.5 oz. dry vermouth
.5 oz. Suze (use whatever bitter you have, though)
4 grapefruit wedges
Large dash of salt
2 oz. tonic

Mash up the grapefruit wedges with the simple syrup in small cocktail tin or mixing glass. Add all other ingredients besides tonic, plus three or four ice cubes. Shake hard. Double strain into glass over fresh ice. Top with tonic.

Billy Pola at Tres Gatos. / Photo provided

Tres Gatos

Venmo: @TresGatos

In exchange for supporting the staff at this unique Spanish tapas bar and book and record shop, Tres Gatos is giving donors gift cards based on 20% of their Venmo tips. Plus: Stay tuned for curated playlists and social media content during the shutdown, like wine education, and mushroom identification tips. Bar manager Billy Pola starts things off by sharing the recipe for this fan-favorite drink, which uses smoky mezcal and an easy-to-make spicy pepper syrup. To make the pepper syrup, first make a simple syrup: Simmer together equal parts white sugar and water on low heat until sugar is dissolved. Blend three peppers with 8 oz. simple syrup, then strain through a fine sieve (remove the seeds if you’d like; it’s up to you and your spice tolerance). At Tres Gatos, Pola makes his syrup with guajillo and habanero chilis, but he says jalapeños will work just fine as well. “What you are really now addressing is how simple it is to make a sweet and seasoned syrup simply at home, to make wide range of ingredients,” Pola says. Try cucumbers, some cilantro—the possibilities are endless.

Kitty’s Got Claws

1.25 Vida Mezcal
.75 lemon
.75 guajillo-hab syrup
.5 apricot juice

Build in a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Palo also shared the recipe for what he’s been drinking lately: Something stiff.

1.5 oz. rye
.75 oz dry vermouth
.25 orange curacao
1 dash orange bitters

Stir over a big ice cube.

Josh Childs’s original cocktail, the All Heart 50/50, is a wet martini variant full of heart, and garnishes. / Photo provided

Trina’s Starlite Lounge

Venmo: @TrinaStarlite-ParlorSports

Before he co-owned popular Somerville hot spots Trina’s Starlite Lounge and Parlor Sports, Boston’s Audubon Bar, and the Paddle Inn in Newburyport, Josh Childs was a bartender at Silvertone who helped usher in modern cocktail culture in Boston. During the shutdown, his close-knit teams are staying connected to their communities via social media—and using online platforms to help show folks at home where any donations they make to the staff Venmo account will go. (Think: baby pictures! Selfless acts of kindness!) Here, Childs shares a house favorite riff on the classic Astoria cocktail, a wet (sweeter) martini.

All Heart 50/50

1.5 oz. Monkey 47 Gin (a particularly fruity, floral, and complex gin)
1.5 oz. dry vermouth
Bar spoon olive brine
4 dashes orange bitters (or substitute)
lemon peel and three cocktail olives

Build in a mixing glass, add ice and stir for 20 seconds. Strain into a martini glass. Garnish with lemon peel and three olives on a cocktail pick.

Troquet on South

Venmo: @Mattteeeooo (bar manager Matt Marini)

Matt Marini has been in this business for a long time: An alum of Hojoko, he also started a hospitality events company called Pineapple Crossing. For the latter, he had a cool logo created featuring a symbol of hospitality: the pineapple. Marini is selling off his inventory of Pineapple Crossing T-shirts with all proceeds going to the staff at Troquet on South, where Marini is now the bar manager. He also shares a unique espresso martini recipe for anybody who needs a pick-me-up right now. This drink calls for cinnamon syrup: This ingredient is made by simmering three cinnamon sticks along with water, then straining out the cinnamon, adding sugar (1:1 water-sugar ratio), and simmering again to dissolve the sugar.

Espresso Martini

1.75 oz. cognac or vodka—cognac will make a more decadent drink
.5 oz. hazelnut cordial (like Frangelico)
.5 oz. creme de cacao (like Tempus Fugit)
.25 oz. cinnamon syrup
1 oz. of a short pour from your Keurig or Nespresso machine
.75 oz. heavy cream

Add all ingredients to a shaker. Pack with with ice—lots of ice. Shake as hard as you can for 20 seconds. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Naomi Levy. / Photo by Caitlyn Cunningham

Variety Bar

GoFundMe: Help Camberville Hospitality Workers

Bartender Naomi Levy has been a prominent force on the Boston bar scene since her days at Eastern Standard. Now, she’s overseeing Variety Bar at the Comedy Studio, located at Somerville’s eclectic Bow Market. Suffice to say, she’s close with many workers throughout the hospitality industry, so her latest social media effort supports not only her own staff, but any Camberville hospitality workers in need right now. The project itself helps us all, though: Levy is sharing some bartending basics on her own Instagram, and she also invites folks at home to direct-message her with the random bar ingredients they have on hand and she’ll come up with a recipe for them. Test her skills, y’all! Here, she shares a margarita riff with two red liqueurs: Bitter Campari, and sweet creme de cassis to balance it out. Below, a bonus recipe Levy shared with me, who has a bottle of peppermint schnapps and no ideas for it beyond “spiked hot chocolate.”

Teresita

1.5 oz. blanco tequila
.5 oz. Campari
.5 oz. Creme de Cassis
.25 oz. simple syrup
.75 oz. lime

Build in a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake hard for 20 seconds. Strain into a cocktail class and garnish with a citrus wheel.

Peppermint Daiquiri

2 oz. white rum
.5 oz. peppermint schnapps
.25 oz simple syrup
.75 oz lime

Build in a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake hard for 20 seconds. Strain into a cocktail class and garnish with a citrus wheel.

Tomas Watler shares an easy recipe from his restaurant, Woods Hill Pier 4—and a must-know tip for using fresh herbs. / White Loft Studio

Woods Hill Pier 4

Venmo: @WH-Adelita

Bar manager Tomas Watler oversees the cocktail programs at both locations of the true farm-to-table restaurants, Woods Hill Table, as well as a sister taqueria in Concord, called Adelita. This classic smash shows at-home bartenders an easy, and easy-to-overlook technique: Make sure to “express” your fresh mint leaves by holding them flat in your palm while giving them a quick slap with your other hand. This ensures you’ll get the full, aromatic qualities from the herbs.

Bourbon Chartreuse Smash

1.5 oz. bourbon
.5 oz. green chartreuse
.5 oz. simple syrup
.5 oz lime
3-5 mint leaves
Mint sprig and lemon wheel, for garnish

Add all ingredients (besides garnish) to a shaker filled with three ice cubes. Shake for about 5 seconds, then pour contents—without straining—into a rocks glass. Fill glass to slightly above the rim with crushed ice, and garnish with mint sprig and lemon wheel.