Thirst Boston 2014 came and went like rolling thunder. In its second year running, the spiritual successor to 2012’s Boston Cocktail Summit, Thirst Boston is New England’s premier celebration of the spirit industry & modern cocktail culture with 2 full days of seminars covering a gamut of topics, like carbonation, cocktail history, sustainability in spirits, hospitality and so on. There really is something for everyone, be it bartenders, manufacturers or the average enthusiast alike. I was all over the fucking place this year with my Polaroid camera and the freshest haircut that $7 can buy, hitting up as many seminars, parties, secret bars and hot dog stands I could. Here is some of the fun you missed out on.
We kicked things off with The Thing at The Fairmont: Opening Night Gala…oh, where are the photos for that, you ask? Yeah, I’m gonna be completely honest: it came down to wearing a fancy jacket all night, fighting myself to not spill like 9 different drinks on it, all while punishing my small brain to its limits to remember everyone’s names… so I left that damn camera at home for this one. Took some sweet-ass selfies on my phone tho. SO ANYWAY! The Thing, it’s what kicks off Thirst and it’s where everybody looks super beautiful while doing shots off the ice luge before making a B-line to dance floor when they start playing the greatest song of our generation: Whitney Houston’s ‘I wanna dance with somebody’. Long story short: They had several bars throughout 2 connected rooms in the gorgeous Fairmont Copley Plaza, with a “secret” bar that was operated by Chicago’s Charles Joly. If you must know, the night ended with hot dogs at Citizen Public House and 70’s beats (compliments of Brother Cleve) at The Hawthorne.
Day 1 started so early that I cant remember if I wore underwear to Thirst but that’s TMI and I apologize for scarring you like that. The morning started with a mimosa in lovely French café themed bar followed swiftly with Aperol punch by Nick Korn (Silvertone, OffSite) for The Aperitif Hour, an interesting look at how aperitif cocktails can be tinkered with and elevated via presentation, infusions and flat out creativity. Thanks to Naren Young for being such an awesome host.
Slam whats left of your carbonated Negroni (cause we don’t leave no Negroni behind!) and move onto The Re-emergence of Rum panel moderated by Misty Kalkofen with Charles Joly, David Wondrich, Joaquin Simo, Maggie Campbell and Wayne Curtis. There was a blind tasting to go along for the ride but to hear these avid rum historians, distillers & experts talk about rum, where they see it going and the effect that it has in the modern spirit industry is damn-right contagious. I could have sat there for hours. Especially had they started handing out donuts.
It was time for a pee break before State Lines: Portland & Providence Pop-up; My favorite part of the entire event, where 8 bars from Maine & Rhode Island were assembled in force, expertly shaking up their best while I very clearly overstayed my welcome at the cheese table (that Brie isn’t gonna’ eat itself, AMIRIGHT?!). Here’s some highlights of this lovely pop-up event.
The ever awesome and way more talented BeantownEats, BeantownDrinks & Cocktail
Virgin Slut representing bloggers at the event.
Fantastic bars with VERY different drinks and big smiles all around. I plan on visiting all of them in their respective bars shortly and I’ll be sure to do a couple #onLocation posts about them when I do. Did somebody say “road trip”?!?
I had a few drinks in me at this point and I don’t recall what I did with the hours between the State Lines pop up and the Roadhouse event but I have the suspicion it involved napping on a couch at the Fairmont, followed with a fun game of “am I gonna fall asleep face first onto this burrito at Boloco or not”. Either way, the next stop was the Roadhouse event which was set to look like dive bar where everyone wears clothes from Urban Outfitters while huddled together to eat some tasty pulled pork to the dulcet tones of Tigerman WOAH (who fucking KILLED it). There were like 5(?) bars set in this cool warehouse in the middle of nowhere which was an Uber driver’s wet dream scenario because I’ve never seen so many Toyota Camrys in my life…
I just realized this is a really long post, but you know what? Neither of us are wearing pants right now, so might as well just keep on going. I feel that is exactly what my dad told my mom the night I was conceived. Yikes… DAY 2!
Had a class on infusing spirits hosted by Tito’s vodka that was a lot of fun. At the end of the session you got to infuse your own vodka with a bevy of ingredients and carry it around in a little mason jar for the rest of the day (this was at 10 AM) like a pet rock. I drank the vodka, ate the stuff I would have infused it with and moved onto Carbonation.
The lovelies from JM Curley and Merril & Co held the most intense seminar on the science of carbonation and how to McGiver your own legit carbonation machine. Now if you know me, you’d know that I cant load a stapler right without looking like I’m trying to disarm a bomb or some shit so I took notes, smiled and drank all their carbonated delights. It was a fun class that reminded me of being in my 6th grade science class all over again; Minus the booze (that would just be weird).
Off to the New England Craft Showcase we go! Many familiar brands and faces from Massachusetts but a lot of new ones from all over New England with strong offerings for the cocktail scene. My favorites were a Hub Punch from Bully Boy distillery and some gin by Berkshire Mt but I’m looking forward to visiting many of these distilleries in the coming months and writing about it right here. So more on that soon.
So it’s no secret that I have some weird clear ice fetish. I mean. Not like in a creepy way that you might be thinking but in a snobby, popped collar kind of way. The Water, Ice & Scotch seminar was unexpected in that I thought It’d be more about Johnnie Walker scotch but was pleasantly greeted with an in depth Q&A on types of ice and the different states and shapes they come in, to the effects of chilling & diluting, presented by William Codman and the ever-intriguing Ezra Star. I still drank plenty of Johnnie Walker though.
Hang in there, kids. We’re almost done. So by now it’s an hour or so before Blender Bender, quite possibly the most fun event at this entire thing, where awesome bartenders, fantastic rum, Vitamix blenders, questionable dance moves and daring wardrobe choices are flowing with reckless abandon. I love it and I just had to find the nearest defibrillator station, zap myself with it like 5 times and I’d be ready to roll, baby! I was lucky enough to have Fred Yarm of Cocktail Virgin as my gentleman caller for the evening, sharing stories as we made the pilgrimage to China town on foot.
And there you have it! Thirst Boston 2014 and its wild adventures in cocktails are over and now I can get some sleep; Maybe even get myself a grilled cheese sandwich. Yeah, I think I’ll go that now.