Drink, 03

I’d like to say something like “I started drinking cocktails because I liked a boy who was into them.” It’s such a classic reason to do anything. But, unfortunately, I’m not a part of that tradition. I started drinking them because people around me were drinking them. I’d walk over to LW’s house and she would be so accommodating and interested in sharing her love of cocktails with her visitors, it seemed wrong to say no. She did research and experimented just so she could make me a facsimile of a fizz. How do you say no to that?

The first time I specifically went to a cocktail bar, I realized how great it was. When you go to a cocktail bar with cocktail enthusiasts, or just good friends, each drink gets passed around so everyone can try it. Comments are made, individual judgments shared, and you learn something more just by hearing how other people experience it. It’s quite like going to a movie, all things considered.

I never seek out cocktails on my own, aside from the hot toddy in the winter to help rock me to sleep.

Drink has easily become my favorite place to get drinks. This is largely in part because I don’t like drinking.

I have a hard time drinking anything that isn’t water or milkshakes. Soymilk has a purpose when being consumed with baked things (even sandwiches!) to keep my mouth wet and make chewing easier, but it is very rare that I get a glass of something and drink it. I never drink it quickly unless I grit my teeth and force myself to do so. Over the course of a night, I can consume one beer. A whole meal to finish a glass of juice. My tea, unless it’s in an actual teacup, is cold by the time I drink the last dredges that hang around the bottom of the glass with the bits of tea leaves that escaped bags and filters.

I do, however, like the taste of alcohol.

In general, I like tastes. I like exploring tastes. I also like textures. That’s something really fun about alcohol–they all have different textures. Nice alcohols have interesting tastes that change as they hit different parts of your mouth. The experience on the soft palate is different than that on the tip of your tongue.

Because I don’t like actually drinking things that aren’t water, cocktails are a great thing. They allow me to explore taste and texture. They taste better, or at least more interesting, than a glass of juice and they’re not so big I have trouble finishing one.

The thing is, I don’t really know a single thing about cocktails. Sure I’ve paged through various lists and books of drinks, but I don’t actually know what most of the stuff in them are. I learned the basic college rule of “alcohol + soda/juice = acceptable.” My dad taught me how to make a white russian, a midori melonball, and a tequila sunrise. I learned that I could mix any sweet alcohol with a milk like substance and people enjoyed it. That’s most of what I know.

I also know what a tequila furnace is.

I know a few things about what gin is, and about what vodka is. I know the process behind rum and some general ideas about the magic that makes whiskey (barrels have something to do with it!), but I have no clue what Chartreuse is.

At least, I didn’t until I went to Drink.

The first time you go to Drink, it’s worth going all out. Someone I know ordered “a glass of sunshine.” I asked for something that “is like how Vermont smells in the summer.” (I got a gin mule with ridiculous amounts of mint that were not muddled and instead just left to steep for several minutes.) This is fun and a little amusing.

After two other trips, which left me floundering once whimsy lost its charm, I learned from LW how to properly go to Drink.

(Note, this is just one method that I particularly like. There is no wrong way to go to Drink, other than being a jerk or an ugly hipster.)

Before you get there, do a little research or at least spend some time thinking about what you want. Pick an alcohol or flavor profile you want to explore. When I saw LW doing this, she was exploring tequilas. Equally, you could say you wanted to explore smoky drinks or herbal drinks or drinks you can make with fresh blackberries. You can say “Hey! I bought this bottle of Chartreuse, what do I do with it?” Explain this to the bartender. If it’s not too busy, they might send another bartender your way who will serve as a better guide on your journey. Talk to them about what you want, they’ll ask you questions. They’ll ask you how you feel about spicy drinks, how you feel about different flavors and textures and intensity levels.

This is all part of the fun.

Going to Drink is like going and getting a really great haircut or being pampered. You don’t need to think too much about it. You don’t need to direct every step. You just need to relax and let someone else, at least for a while, take control with the basic directions you’ve given them. Besides, they know what questions to ask to figure out where you want to go.

I’ve never had a drink there I didn’t like.

Something a lot of people say when talking about Drink is that it’s expensive. At twelve-dollars a pop, it’s actually not a lot when you compare it to other cocktail bars. It is, in fact, on the low end. Getting a Pimm’s cup from Drink is more expensive than getting one from a bar–getting a gin mule there cost more than getting one from the bar down the street–but the one at Drink came with knowledge about the history and construction of my drink. It came with excitement and exploration. It also tasted a lot better than the ones at the bar down the street.

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Drink, 02

In Boston, there’s a bar named Drink, which causes me many problems with my habit of verbifying nouns. Where saying “Let’s Grendels!” makes some contextual sense, saying “Let’s Drink!” is often met with a resounding “Where?” While most of my friends around here are into beer, I know a few people who get excited about the idea of mixing various liquors, spices, liquids, and anything else that can help them in their search for the perfect moment of imbibing. They experiment and tweak in that way home scientists border on artists. With wild abandon and no IRBs, they attempt, and reattempt, to create mixtures that are at least interesting in construction and divine in consumption. Or sometimes the other way around. These are the people I know who like Drink.

Drink is owned by the Barbra Lynch Gruppo, who own such establishments as No. 9 Park, Sportello, and Menton, which are all quite fancy. This means something, I suspect that Drink is owned by this particular set of people. I don’t know what that something is, but I’m sure it’s important. Zagat seems to like the eponymous Barbara Lynch, whose favorite ingredients include duck, saffron, and figs. Their spots are classy with a sort of “return to basics” feeling about how they present themselves: they run a butcher shop, they have a bar that pushes for that speakeasy feeling of in the basement with dim lights and bartenders who wear suspenders and do shots with you on the house.

DH, NS, and ScrabbleWhen NS came back from Korea with a new suit, he told us he wasn’t going to try and contrive situations to dress up. Quickly, he recanted and we made a plan to pretend we were classy (in our own ways) and T on over to Drink. (We didn’t even ride our bikes.)

That day, at work, NS compiled the best (or worst) of the yelp reviews. He was playing one of his favorite games, where he organizes the reviews in rating order and than looks at the worst, steeling himself away for an awful night.

(The following are from Yelp. Emphasis courtesy of me.)

Jonathan B from Quincy, MA says
“I can’t believe this place has gotten so many good reviews because this place sucks! I went in last night looking to try a new place. To make a long story short, I had to wait at least 5 minutes for A BEER after ordering it. Oh, and I had to wait on average of 5 minutes before that to even place my order. This didn’t happen once. This happened throughout the night. The place reeks of overpriced pretension. Also, I watched the bartenders make the drinks. They made spectacles of simple vodka tonics and martinis. I watched the bartenders stir drinks for an obnoxiously long time. I will not go back.”

Julie G. from Clearwater, FL says,
“I think they should rename this bar “WTF am I drinking?”.

Great concept crew. I like the whole we can make you a vodka tonic with a little something extra but what if I just want a vodka tonic? None of the booze is labeled and is all in fancy bottles that they probably purchased at pier one. I don’t even think that is bar code. I got a whiskey tonic drink. It was $20 served in a Collins glass. Tasted like a Jack and ginger. I hope it was Johnny Walker Blue in there (but I will never know what the secret sauce is). The bar staff was scattered grabbing orders from multiple customers at once and never focusing on the current customer. I ordered 3 drinks and it took about 10 min to make and 15 to pour the glass of wine. It was pretty confusing. Also, the Bar staff had more room to move than the customers. That annoyed me.

Next time I am staying at Lucky’s.”

Lauren B. from Boston, MA says,
“How ironic is it that I was unable to get a drink at a place named Drink?

This over crowded, hipster, ugly bar was basically the biggest waste of time. I have never once left a bar because I was unable to get a drink. After walking all the way there on Saturday (yes I know it was Saturday blah blah blah, f that I deserve to get a drink) I waited for over 15 minutes to ultimately just walked out. Keep in mind, IT WAS 9 PM!

When I arrived, I was tipsy and excited to try Drink. I had been trying to get on down for awhile now, and the timing was finally right. Unfortunately I was highly disappointed by this bar. Why did you have to let me down Drink? Why?!!??? You seemed so promising.

a.) 15 minutes with out even a “hey ill be right with you!” or some kind of eye contact? We were standing RIGHT in front of the bartender. WTF. I think I was probably making him uncomfortable with my extreme eye contact technique. Gimme a damn cocktail already.

b.) Whats with all the ugly hipsters? Everyone in the place was a d-bag. I thought it would be a swank environment with excellent cocktails and some easy going clientele. Not a stuffy, dark, hipster “look at me and my over sized black rimmed glasses that aren’t even prescription!” kind of joint.

c.) The best part was choosing which bar to go to. Unless you have got a seat, which you will never get unless you are having a 3 pm cocktail with your alcoholic grandmother, you will never get served or even acknowledged by anyone except the couple you are hovering over while you attempt to flag someone down. The bar is set up in a weird formation, which really makes no sense other than to screw over people like me who just want a damn drink.

So I’m sorry Drink. Maybe another time if I need advice on where to buy some hipster glasses or a new Yamaka. So disappointed.

One star because I got to use the men’s room before my long walk to another bar that was willing to make me a drink.”

Photo by Ben Schwartz under the “Meh. Take them. They’re yours.” License. (2011).