On Sunday, July 17, Jackson Cannon, Eastern Standard's bar director, loaded up a Ford Econovan with, among other things, cocktail glasses, bar equipment, linens, bar stools, 1000 nips bottles of his house-made vermouth, and a 16-by-five-foot reproduction of the art installation that hangs over the bar. He then set off on the 26-hour drive to Louisiana. On the side of the van, "ES TOTC" was spelled out in magnetic letters.
"TOTC" stands for Tales of the Cocktail, an annual drinks conference held each July in New Orleans. The cargo Cannon and Naomi Levy, an ES bartender, transported was used to re-create the Kenmore Square space a few days later at the Bar Room Brawl, one of TOTC's marquee events. Cannon and Levy were invited to appear with representatives of elite bars from four other major American cities and vie for the title of US Bar Room Brawl Champion. Each competitor created an abbreviated home away from home — from appearance to service style — to most authentically deliver the experience of being at their bar. The floors were sticky.
Other Bostonians who made the trip to Tales pulled out all the stops to air their hometown pride. They wielded signs and chanted "Eastern Standard" to the cadence of "Let's Go Red Sox." Their presence was enough for a fan base twice their size, which was unfortunate for the other challengers, who had no such organized cheering section.
With their swift one-two twists, vicious shakes, and charming smiles, the team delivered a crushing blow to the competition and brought the heavyweight title home to Boston for the second year in a row. (Barbara Lynch's Fort Point bar, Drink, triumphed last year.) "Unless you've been to Beantown, you just don't know," said the lead judge, spirits expert Steve Olson, announcing the victory. The crowd went bonkers.
TOTC 2011 was something of a sweep for the hometown barkeeps. The concluding spectacle was an Oscar-esque affair called the Spirited Awards, which acknowledges the best in the global booze biz. Drink took Best American Cocktail Bar. General manager John Gertsen accepted the award, flanked by principal bartender Scott Marshall and noted mixologist Misty Kalkofen.
I asked Marshall what he was going to drink to celebrate. He said, "A Miller High Life and a shot of Chartreuse."
: This Just In
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