*The latest ruminations from LUPEC Boston, which appear, greatly abbreviated, in this week’s issue of The Dig.
Words by Pink Lady, with reporting by LUPEC Boston
LUPEC’s last installment of Dig-assigned debauchery ended with a 12-cocktail flight. Suffice to say, this is how we roll. We know a long night is in store so commence Operation Woodward early, precisely at 5:08 p.m. on Sunday.
Drink #0.5: The Aperitif
Head bartender “English Bill” Codman is reason enough to stop by The Woodward. He has been expecting us and greets Pinky Gonzales, Bourbon Belle, her “screwdriver” Bourbon Bob, who drove, and me with an aperitif of Woodward Ale. The beer is floral, herbaceous, and delicious. But it doesn’t really count as Drink #1, right?
Drink #1: Bartender’s Choice.
We tell Bill he’s in charge of Cocktail #2.
“Oh, really?” he says raising an eyebrow. His smirk says: It’s on. Bill cracks eggs over two glasses and muddles ginger in a third. A roar erupts from small crowd of hockey fans (including shrill females) at the other end of the bar. They’re watching the final game in the Olympics, U.S. versus Canada. It is not as interesting to us as the booze-filled glassed landing in front of us on the bar. Bill serves two Scollay Slings ($13/each), made with lemon, egg white, Earl Grey tea syrup, and Plymouth gin and a Boston Mule ($11) for resident vegan Bourbon Belle.
“Take a sip and guess what’s in it,” he says. We can’t. “Absolut Boston!” he laughs. We grimace; flavored vodka isn’t really “our thing”. Made with fresh muddled ginger, mint, and Fentimen’s ginger beer, this drink is actually a delight.
Drink #2: Bartender’s Surprise
Before #1 is finished Bill presents Drink #2. Apparently we’re going too slow. We’re breaking the 5-drink rules, but we can’t be stopped.
“Because I know how you hate tequila,” he says, he mixed us up The Scarlet Letter ($12), with fresh rosemary, muddled cranberry, Milagro silver tequila, and a splash of Del Maguey Chichicapa, and a Good Time Margarita ($12), with lime juice, agave nectar, Herradura tequila, and a Del Maguey Chichicapa float.
Drink #3: What drink epitomizes the attached hotel? If this place were a cocktail, which one would it be?
Bourbon Bob has slipped out and English Bill is done for the day, too. Before departing he suggests the Ames Addiction ($14), basically a dark rum Manhattan, as cocktail #3, partially for its name, and partially for some other well crafted, beautifully explained reason that I didn’t write down. Oops. Poor Bill’s brilliance, washed away with so much gin.
As Bill is walking out the door, Pink Gin walks in.
“Sorry I’m late! I was watching hockey!”
“Yes,” I say, “We tried to call your cell phone, then I remembered you don’t have one.”
We mock Pink Gin’s rustic lifestyle and greet our new bartender, Bethany as she mixes up round 3.
Drink #4: Neighboring Bar Guest’s Choice
It’s a quiet night at the Woodward, and the only other drinkers nearby are a cozied-up couple. As punishment for her tardiness, Pink Gin must intrude. They’re drinking clear beverages in martini glasses – dirty vodka martinis, perhaps? His has olives. It’s not looking good.
His date, Pauline, describes her drink as a “modified Vesper” with Bombay Sapphire, St-Germain, and lemon oil, a.k.a. not at all a Vesper. But we can’t complain.
Thankfully spared, we discuss interesting drink choices. “The singer from the Dresden Dolls comes into the Franklin all the time!” Bourbon Belle tells us as. “She drinks Espresso Martinis. Isn’t that weird?” For a sorority girl, no. For the queen of punk-burlesque, yes.
“I heard she’s engaged to Neil Gaiman,” Pink Gin tells us.
“Neil Diamond???” says Bourbon Belle. “No way!”
“No, Neil Gaiman, like Coraline,” Pink Gin explains.
“You mean Sweet Caroline?”
Drink #4.5: The Experiment.
As our fake Vespers dwindle, Bethany asks for help on a developing recipe. Opinions? We’ve got those.
I suggest adding lemon juice. Bourbon Belle says it needs bitters. Pinky Gonzales doesn’t taste enough of rye. More Maraschino? Less rosewater?
Before we know it, the guinea pig drink is down the hatch. Poor Bethany is no closer to her final drink.
Drink #4.75: A drink to help us decide on Drink #5.
Our next beverage should be inspired by the music, which is “Burning Down the House.”
“How the hell are we going to interpret that?” asks Pinky Gonzales.
“80’s drink?” offers Bourbon Belle. “Fuzzy Navels?”
“Bartels & James?” says Pink Gin.
“Zima, anyone?” I say. “Or maybe we could just snort some cocaine?”
Bethany pours four shots of Fernet as we ponder.
Drink #5: A drink inspired by whatever music is playing.
Soon Talking Heads has passed, and The Beatles’ “Tax Man” comes on. Excellent! We’ll have an Income Tax Cocktail! We fiddle with our iPhones to find the exact recipe of the one that we had that we really liked that one time.
Bethany begins mixing to our specifications and we squabble drunkenly over ingredients: Bombay or Beefeater? Carpano or Martini & Rossi? Orange juice or just orange bitters & oil? She allows us to straw-taste the drink before straining it into coupes.
“Nope, nope, nope” we say, and send her back to the drawing board. When did we become such pushy customers?
The second incarnation of the Income Tax is infinitely more drinkable; if I’d written it down, I’d share it with you here.
As we raise a glass in honor of our patient bartender, the lovely Woodward, and our own 5-drink minimum success, Bourbon Belle sums up our night:
“Did you say 5-drink minimum, Dig? I thought you said 9-drink minimum. Who wants to go to Drink for one more?