Brandy Rand

Thirsty Writer, Libations Marketer

Act One: The Bar

Originally published in the Spring 2015 issue of Boston Common Magazine.

The art of the cocktail is about so much more than mixing and garnishing drinks. It’s also about swagger. From flaming peels to vaporizing spirits to the f lair of the bartender, at many Boston bars the drama unfolds right before your eyes—and in your glass.

Shooting flames take center stage at King St. Tavern at the Ames Hotel (1 Court St., 617-979-8203), where head bartender Jesse Dupuis has created the New Classic, a blend of High West Double Rye whiskey, Aperol, yellow Chartreuse, Bittermens Boston Bittahs, and cherry syrup that has sparked (pun intended) many a conversation among bar guests. The cocktail is Dupuis’s modern interpretation of the 18th-century original, which combined spirits, sugar, and bitters. “This recipe was a work in progress for quite a while,” he explains. “Once I fine-tuned the proportions, I experimented with a number of bitters and sweetener combinations until I arrived at the finished, perfectly balanced recipe.” For the fiery conclusion, Dupuis squeezes an orange twist over a lit match, igniting a f lame of citrus oil.

Over at Fort Point’s Tavern Road (343 Congress St., 617-790-0808), bar manager Ryan McGrale fuels the fire even further. “The Kraken is a theatrical spin on the Remember the Maine, which is my go-to drink for Manhattan and Sazerac fans looking to do something a little different,” he says. Because the original was named for the ship sunk in Havana in 1898 that ignited the Spanish-American War, “it seemed only fitting that its showy sibling be named after a sea monster like the kraken.” McGrale combines Heering cherry liqueur, sweet vermouth, rye whiskey, and orange bitters in one glass, then lights a snifter of green Chartreuse before slowly pouring the cocktail into it, creating a smoky haze worthy of a second act.

For even more jaw-dropping imbibing, head over to the aptly named Café ArtScience (650 E. Kendall St., Cambridge, 857-999-2193), where one cocktail has to be seen—and tasted—to be believed. Known for pushing the boundaries of bartending, Clio cocktail alum Todd Maul reimagines the standard tiki bar drink with vapor technology and a little help from you. The Whaftiki requires that you inhale a vapor of cachaça (Brazilian brandy) before Maul pours a room-temperature mixture of rums, lime juice, and cinnamon simple syrup over flavored alcoholic ice cubes. Then sit back and watch as the drink changes shape and color before your eyes. Now that’s entertainment.

The New Classic from King St. Tavern

11 oz. High West Double Rye
3 oz. Aperol
1 oz. yellow Chartreuse
2 dashes Bittermens Boston Bittahs
1 bar spoon Luxardo cherry syrup
Orange twist
Pour all liquid ingredients into a chilled rocks glass (without ice) and stir. Warm the orange twist with a match, squeezing quickly to express the oil over the fame and ignite it.

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