PHOTOS BY DAVID DAY
Chances are, you can spot the Cat Hat in Central on any given night doing a “five drink minimum.” I chose my favorite places for the marathon: where Mass Ave. is filled with music. Behind these doors are some of the best bartenders this city has to offer. And tonight, I’m writing about them and for them. Yes, for work. Nobody seems surprised that I’m on assignment, except maybe Maxxi Soundystem, a producer from Brighton, UK playing at Make It New—
who, while staring at the “Time to Hit the Dance Floor” Calming Manatee meme I tweeted at him two drinks in, finds the 5 Drink assignment more believable—or confusing.
DRINK 1: BARTENDER’S CHOICE: MILAGRO TEQUILA SMASH ($9)
Justin at Middlesex is one of my favorite bartenders of all time. He was holding up a bottle of Jameson and smiling when I approached the bar before we knew each other’s names. If it weren’t for Justin, I’d be dead. Or at least a cold, cruel cynic. I tell him what’s up; he nods. Manzi’s DJing. I do a stupid head bop thing. By the time I look back, Justin has already placed a beautiful, sweet Tequila Smash with Milagro tequila and a cucumber garnish on a napkin before me. He tells me he picked it because it’s DJ Kon’s favorite drink. I go to the back and run into bar manager Nate Brown, who gives me his insight: “Everyone loves Justin. He’s our most popular bartender.” How could you not?
DRINK 2: TWITTER’S CHOICE: JAM DONUT ($9)
As I watch Justin effortlessly deal out about 10 drinks in the next minute, I notice that Maxxi Soundsytem is tweeting. “I just won the International Dance Music Award for best indie track!” We all cheers him and I jot down “for Nervous, ‘Scandal’ remix.” “You’re a great journalist. You’re doing well,” he says in his British accent. “Like a sponge.” I think that comment’s funny so I pick his Twitter suggestion—“try a jam doughnut. A shot with baileys and chambourd. Tastes like well a…” I read the tweet in a British accent in my head. Justin whips up the shot and I’m afraid it might be gross, but if @MaxxiSndSystm and his mates drink 10 of them, well a… Eating the strawberry on top, I’m now dancing with the taste of Strawberry Shortcake in my mouth. I LOVE YOU, ENGLAND.
DRINK 3: INSPIRED BY THE 1 BUS: COFFEE WITH JAMESON AND BAILEY’S ($6-$7)
It’s ska night at ZuZu, led by this dude in a red sweater named Dan Baker, who’s DJing when I walk in. I decide to bypass the deadly #1 Bus suggestion of the pretty girls sitting at the bar (Red Bull and SoCo … with acid in it … warm), and ask Sela and Joe, the lovely people making drinks behind it. “Maybe a coffee with Jameson and Bailey’s—for the commute.” I watch people skanking (a dance born out of Jamaican dance halls in the ‘60s) as Joe piles on the whipped cream like soft served ice cream. The sugary fluff that is immediately all over my face—and the drink—is on the house. How sweet.
DRINK 4: WRITER’S CHOICE: MIND ERASER ($7.50)
My Mass Ave. marathon has taken a course paralleling the evolution of music, as Elements is at the Phoenix Landing tonight. People are also skanking, but with a much quicker backbeat, and I’m delighted to see Dev/Null at the decks. We run into my friend and resident of RE:SET, Randy Desheias at the bar, and he wants to play, so I say my choice is his choice. “Two Mind Erasers,” he says to my Irish pal Ciernan behind the bar before turning back to me, “but we have to do them together.” 4/4 sugary drinks seems appropriate for Randy’s music of choice but also unlucky for me. “It’ll be fine,” Randy assures me. I Metter through it and make the Kaluah, Vanilla Vodka, and cleansing soda water fly through two straws and disappear. “Classic. That’s classic shit,” Randy says. “What?” I reply.
DRINK 5: BAR HAVOC’S RELAY HAND-OFF: TEQUILA SHOT ($7.50)
As I said before, this 5 Drink is dedicated to the bartenders—so I save the best for last. Bar Havoc is before me in the marathon, and I can’t think of anyone who knows how to end a night better. “One shot of tequila for the lady!” pops up from her on Twitter—and all of #hellweek flashes before my eyes. Ciernan places two salt shakers and limes before us, and try as I might, I cannot remember the last night in the past two weeks when I haven’t gone out. Fuck. All I can do is Metter through it, so down the hatch it goes. My eyes water. I’m telling myself not to puke, but through the tears I see a Red Sox hat materialize before my eyes: Moldy is here. I’m having some sort of religious experience as I give him a huge hug and thank the Jose Cuervo Silver gods that I have friends true enough to bail me out of jail if need be.
Lauren passes the baton to the next Dig staffer in the Mass Ave. Marathon, Cady.
Click here for her 5 Drink!