With the sultry weather of summer now fully upon us, there are few things that offer such a stylish form of relief as an ice-cold, well-made cocktail. In Boston there are a number of truly wonderful bars, where you can cool off with a fine drink, whether it be a tried and true classic or a tasty concoction invented on the spot.
One of the best and most consistently inventive local bars is Craigie on Main in Central Square, Cambridge. Carrie Cole is the senior bartender at Craigie, where she creates an array of artfully executed drinks that not only stand on their own, but also complement the restaurant’s eclectic menu. No mean feat.Carrie started tending bar while still a student at BU, pouring pitchers and shots at Crossroads, perhaps Boston’s quintessential college bar. After graduating, she worked as a cook and then a pastry chef before eventually returning to the bar. “Bartending combines two of my natural skills,” she says, “which is the creativity of cooking and being with people. The kitchen can be a lonely place. I find working with the public is much more fun.”
About a year and a half ago, she started at Craigie. At that time, Tom Schlesinger-Giudelli was the senior bartender and Carrie says he was a major influence on her, deepening her knowledge of spirits and mixing. But listening, she says, is perhaps the most prized skill for a bartender.
“With this kind of bar, people have gotten that we do a lot of mixing on the fly. You can come to us and say, ‘I’m looking for something gin, dry, lightly citrus’ and we can tailor a cocktail for you or find a classic cocktail that might fit the bill. It’s a really engaged process here.”
And it’s this kind of engagement with customers that she says challenges her to expand her skills as a bartender–she singles out cocktail enthusiasts like Lauren Clark of Drinkboston and Janet and Avery Glasser of Bittermens Bitters for special mention.
In fact, it was when she was mixing drinks for the Glassers that she came up with her current favorite cocktail, the Bird Bath. “I like it because the story behind it is equal to how tasty it is,” she says.
Inspired by the feisty rooster on the label of Cocchi Americano, an Italian aperitif akin to Lillet, the three joked that it should do battle with Fighting Cock bourbon. After a bit of searching, they added a third avian element, a rum from Trinidad called The Scarlet Ibis. Much to their surprise, this spirit-based cockfight yielded a harmonious and beautifully balanced drink. Thus, the Bird Bath was born.
2 oz. Cocchi Americano
1 oz. Scarlet Ibis Rum
1/2 oz. Fighting Cock Bourbon
Stir with ice and strain into a coupe glass.