Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Introducing: Toasting Coasts

I am excited to introduce you Sipsters to Liza Weisstuch, a Boston-based scribe who contributes to the Boston Globe. Her writing on cocktails, dining, design, theater and other indulgences also appear in The Boston Phoenix, Boston Magazine, DailyCandy, and in an upcoming issue of Imbibe Magazine. Now, she is also an East Coast correspondent for The Liquid Muse, and generously sharing wonderful tid-bits from the Left Coast, where many cocktailian thrills are had. Below is Liza’s first article for us, so settle in for an intoxicating spin around the Boston Harbor, and raise a glass to the lovley ladies of LUPEC (preferably using the cocktail recipe at the end of this piece!)

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The cityscape sparkled along the Boston Harbor. On a recent crisp October night, the law-abiding urban dwellers going about their business in those buildings were completely oblivious to the sultry mischief the Ladies United for the Preservation of Endagered Cocktails were instigating. If you walked along the wharf and listened hard, you could hear some jazzy riffs and raucous laughter drifting from the seemingly unremarkable Louisiana Riverboat bobbing gently on the water. Gentle, however, was hardly the word inside. In upper deck quarters that looked like a downtown gin joint by way of the Love Boat, it was an all-out blowout – LUPEC style.

The LUPEC Boston Tea Party, a fundraiser coordinated by the organization’s Boston chapter, would have warmed the cockles of Dorothy Parker’s heart – and put some fire in her belly. The group’s ten members lassoed some of the city’s finest bartenders and chefs and fashioned a bona fide (albeit provisional) speakeasy on the boat – at least if the records of the era maintained by New Yorker columnist Morris Markey are any measure. Of a Wall Street secret watering hole, he wrote about the time warp effect prompted by “six white-coated fellows flinging the shakers up and down lustily to the tune of rattling ice….while the faintly sweet aroma of gin floated back through the crowd pressed against the rail.” Indeed, the faintly sweet smell of gin – not to mention whiskey – hung heavy in the air. And Golden Age glam ruled as revelers sported feathered headpieces, flapper-esque dresses, mink wraps, bobs and scarlet lipstick. (Sorry, guys, the ladies outdid you.) The debonair bartenders mixed up some serious vintage moxie – Bronx cocktails and Scoff-Law cocktails. Everything was offered in teacups, of course. How else to keep it on the DL?

Also among the tipples was the Flapper Jane, a concoction invented by the LUPEC broads (see recipe below). The Ladies are no neophytes when it comes to creating recipes. Founded in February by Misty “Hanky Panky” Kalkofen, bar manager at Green Street, a Cambridge neighborhood restaurant where the bar has a decidedly old school slant, Boston’s is the fifth LUPEC chapter. The group began in Pittsburgh with the mission of “Dismantling the patriarchy…one drink at a time.” Now each chapter has its own strategy for broadcasting women’s role in the history of spirits – and, by turn, the country. The Boston gals meet once a month around a particular theme and sample – and often create – relevant cocktails. Lest this be construed as your standard girls-night-out cocktail frenzy, take note that they study up on influential grand dames at each gathering. Creativity led them to create a gin cocktail that won a cocktail contest on salon.com; scholarly pursuits led them to exhume an article that ran in the New Republic in 1925 heralding the arrival of the new socialite, Flapper Jane; and social consciousness drove them to raise over $4000 at the Tea Party to donate to Jane Doe Inc, a nonprofit devoted to ending domestic violence and sexual assault.

And so at another historic Tea Party, another social mission was accomplished, (though thankfully nothing was hurled overboard this time around.) The night wore on, but few seemed to wear out. After all, everyone was fueled by the real McCoy.

While Fancy Brandy worked the crowd hawking LUPEC unmentionables and raffle tickets from a contraption reminiscent a burlesque cigarette girl, Kalkofen dashed about attending to her drink – and a few logistics. “Everyone’s saying ‘I couldn’t find the boat.’ It’s a speakeasy -- you have to look harder! And everyone’s asking ‘Can I take this on the dock?’” Kalkofen shrugged. “It’s in a teacup, isn’t it?”

Flapper Jane
1 3/4 oz Plymouth Gin
1/2 oz Fresh Lemon Juice

3/4 oz Wu Wei infused Simple Syrup

dash of Peychaud Bitters

Shake in a cocktail shaker, strain into a cocktail glass, and toast your own fabulousness!
(Their exclamation mark.)

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