Everyone always wants what they can’t have.
Take Zack Emonds for instance. Back in 2008, before he was bar manager for the newly opened Mast’ in Downtown Crossing, he was immersed in a competition at the Foundation Room at the House of Blues and created a gummi fish (molded in an ice cube tray) with rhubarb juice, blood orange triple sec, port wine, and gin. If for no other reason, he says, than because his early history is one bereft of sugar.
“I loved candy,” he says, “but my dad’s in holistic medicine. I was never allowed to have any. That and because I was hyper.”
And while looking to give high-end cocktails a more efficient pathway from the bar to the liver, as it were, he took a page from his holistic upbringing and began working with the idea of creating from-scratch boozy gummies to offset or compliment the flavors in the drinks he serves. The goal, he says, is to cut down on prep time without sacrificing novel approaches and ingredients.
“If you balance everything right,” he says, “[the candy] will taste exactly like your cocktail.”
So this past summer he approached his new bosses with some fresh ideas to bring to Mast’ (he also bartends at Nebo downtown) like dice-sized cedarwood-smoked Jack Daniel’s gummies he now serves as garnishes (and snacks).These, along with hickory-smoked Gran Mariner drunken gummi fish, were a hit, and are now available at the bar at Mast’.
He won’t relinquish his recipes or methods, beyond acknowledging that their inception took a little work. “It took me a good month and a kitchen covered in gelatin until my girlfriend, at the end, was like, ‘Can I have the kitchen back?’”
Emonds says he’s already playing with some spiked holiday versions, but, in spite of their sweet form, don’t underestimate their function.
“I can get you drunk on candy,” he says with a mischievous laugh. “One hundred percent.”
Dan is a freelance journalist and has written for publications including Vice, Esquire, the Daily Beast, Fast Company, Pacific Standard, MEL, Leafly, Thrillist, and DigBoston.