Posts Tagged ‘Richie Boccato’

PORTRAITS FROM THE BAR – RICHIE BOCCATO

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

Illustration by Jill DeGroff Story by Richie Boccato

My mother, Marlene Boccato, is a native Brooklynite who has traversed the globe several times over and has earned several degrees from various institutions of higher learning. Somewhere along the way she managed to raise a rather reticent and rambunctious young man named Richard
during the 1970’s and 1980’s in New York City. She also happens to be the most independent, humble, and hard-working woman whom I have ever known–with the exception of my grandmother. And both of them are teetotalers. She is the salt of the earth, and a true blue collar veteran of the mean streets of Kings County.

One day during the nascent stages of my career as a barman in some of the world’s most heralded watering holes, I took it upon myself to show her some articles in which I received recognition for my vocational antics. She casually responded with the following remark:

“So you’re a bartender–what’s the big deal?”

The genuine sincerity and honest candor in her voice compelled me to immediately adopt those words as gospel. She was right; it really wasn’t such a big deal. At that moment it became clear to me that my ego was most definitely NOT the most important part of the equation between a thirsty customer standing at my bar and what they would eventually hold in their glass. That sense of importance I may have developed during my brief tenure behind the bar was immediately discarded. Forget the fanfare. I had a job to do. The truth is I should have known better. I started out as a doorman. Take it from me, there is much humility to be learned by standing alone on the sidewalk on many a cold winter’s night checking ID’s. But now I was earning a living trying to make my patrons feel good about parting with their coin in exchange for a fancy drink. If by some chance one or more of those paying customers happened to appreciate their experience to the extent they felt was noteworthy, then so be it–but no need to celebrate.

So that’s what my mother taught me about tending bar. Do a good job, and don’t take yourself too seriously. As for her thoughts on fancy ice cubes–she tells me that she thinks they are “cool.” True story.
– Richard Boccato

Jill DeGroff is the author and illustrator of “Lush Life; Portraits from the Bar”. To see more portraits from the bar, visit her online Rogues Gallery at www.saloonartist.com

BARTENDERS BATTLE IT OUT AT NOLA FISHOUSE

Friday, July 15th, 2011

Spirited dinner takes the East Coast vs. West Coast bartending styles to the dining room

By Francine Cohen

Tales of the Cocktail (www.talesofthecocktail.com) is well known for the constant imbibing that goes on (responsibly of course), but what about dining?  Contrary to popular belief, man doesn’t live on cocktails alone (though, talk to some of the bartenders there after three days and you’ll start to wonder when it was they had their last full meal).  And so, one of the favorite events of the week for many attendees is Thursday night, when all the spirited dinners take place. 

Every dinner has its merits; this year one is being filmed, one is featuring white unaged spirits and liqueurs, and one may end in a fistfight.  Or so we’re hearing.  The battle royale?  It’ll be at GW Fins (www.gwfins.com) where things are heating up in the kitchen and in the dining room when East Coast and West Coast bartenders face off course after course with competing cocktails. 

Kicking off the evening is a non-pugilistic approach as two left coast bartenders, Jackie Paterson and Anu Apte, are presenting their drinks.  Apte promises that the evening will start off right and anything heated that goes on this evening is not her fault.  She says, “When asked to do the aperitif round I looked for inspiration from my experience last year at Tales.  I attended the Tiki dinner that Martin Cate put on at GW Finns. (It was amazing!) I remember how hot, sweaty, sticky, and thirsty we all were as we arrived.  Out of sheer thirst and desire to keep our buzz going many us ordered drinks from the bar completely ignoring the fact that we had 6-8 cocktails ahead of us with dinner. Needless to say we all were smashed! One cocktail too many!

Keeping that in mind I wanted to create a cocktail that I could hand to guests as soon as they enter the restaurant.  Something light, bubbly and refreshing and also with low ABV.  I hope that feeling the cold glass, sipping a cold beverage through ice, inhaling the citrus oils and letting the bubbles tickle their noses will revive them.  The flavor profiles in Lillet (www.lillet.com), and the bitter notes of Gran Classico (www.granclassico.com) and Fever Tree’s (www.fever-tree.com) bitter lemon soda play well together. I hope enough to get people salivating and hungry for dinner.”

Chef Michael Nelson has been thinking about this dinner for a while; the request came in November for the restaurant to host it.  Quite the challenge to put together a menu that far in advance, particularly for one that updates its menu around the freshest catch of the day.  But Nelson, a veteran of the kitchen, and Nelson has the skill and expertise to put together plates that satisfy both bartender and non-bartender guests alike.  He notes, “I had to create this menu first, before the cocktails (were created) and so I created it with the thought that these dishes would be easy to pair with cocktails.  During the past several years, my experience has been that the bartenders either create a drink that is lighter and has fruit flavors, or a simple, stiff cocktail.   Each of the dishes on this menu has a sweet and sour aspect to them that works very well with either of these types of cocktails.  Examples of this are the tartness of grapefruit, acidity of tomatoes, and sweetness and spicy aspects of the Vietnamese Glaze on the Pork Belly.”  He continues, “I also felt that the bartenders would have a lot to work with playing against the different levels of fat content in each of the courses.”

There’s surely going to be some spirited play against the different levels of fat content in each course but what’s really promising to make this a rollicking evening is each of these bartenders chewing the fat (and spitting it out at their opponent).  After Anu and Jackie present their cocktails for the amuse, Richie Boccato and Jon Santer mix to the finish over a first course of Wood Grilled Octopus served with grapefruit, fennel, and avocado.  Battling over a second course entrée of Spicy Vietnamese Glazed Pork Belly that will be served with jicama relish and a cilantro coulis will be Jason Littrell and Dave Shenaut.  Next on the card are John Lermayer and Marcos Tello and who’s to say who makes the best cocktail to pair with Sumac Crusted Grouper accompanied by melted heirloom tomatoes, kalamata olives and pesto gnocchi.  The final match up places a sweet dessert course of warm roasted pineapple served with coconut sorbet between two sourly fierce competitors; Don Lee and Keith Waldbauer. 

Who comes out on top?  It’s hard to say now.  But after a quick interview with some of those about to enter the ring our money might be on Dave Shenaut if we were the betting type.  Look at all this smack he’s talking:

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YOU’RE ON A BOAT

Monday, July 5th, 2010

An INSIDE Look At One Of The Manhattan Cocktail Classic’s Most Talked About Events
By Francine Cohen Photos Courtesy of Moët Hennessy USA (unless otherwise noted)

Photo by Charles Steadman

As is often the case, we find ourselves in the right place at the right time. This time it was at Louis649 (www.louis649.com) on a sunny winter afternoon. Tippling Point partner Jason Littrell was there and eager to share what he thought was a pretty nifty idea…a plan for a boat cruise to take place during the Manhattan Cocktail Classic. Great idea (we thought). Sounds like fun (we said). Little did we know then what we know now – that the Three Hour Tour would become the most coveted ticket for an off-site event during the Manhattan Cocktail Classic (www.manhattancocktailclassic.com), and an event still talked about months later. Though we should have known. Thank goodness we immediately secured ourselves a ticket before the planning got underway for real.

Planning the Three Hour Tour was no small feat for Littrell and his partners Tad Carducci, Paul Tanguay, and Gianfranco Verga. Sure, this is a band of bartenders who have put together quite a number of memorable parties on their own, but not usually something like this with a handful of the nation’s best bartenders pitching in, and at sea no less. Fortunately, for all involved, their maiden voyage as a newly formed events consultantancy was smooth sailing (sorry, couldn’t help that one).

Photo courtesy of MHUSA

Littrell comments on how he first came up with the idea saying, “I knew Lesley [Townsend – Founder of the Manhattan Cocktail Classic] was putting things together and saw that there was an opportunity to have events offsite. I’ve done parties outside festivals before but I had never been to a cocktail event on a boat. The idea for the cruise just came to me. The concept was sort of like how I approach drinks; a lot of times I’ll come up with a name first and build a drink around it.”

This boat cruise around the isle of Manhattan built around a “blue sky” idea got its sea legs when Moët Hennessy USA (MHUSA – www.mhusa.com) and the Tippling Point came together. Littrell says, “We all put it together; I had this idea for this cheeky event and they had skill sets I didn’t have.” Tanguay adds, “Basically Jason came up with the idea – they approached us to see if we wanted to get involved. That’s how Tippling Point was born and now we’re running with this event side concept. Putting new parties together if you will and approaching spirits companies to partner.”

The original idea for the cruise was based on a Gilligan’s Island theme, but partnering with one of the most prestigious spirits companies changed the tone of the event as Littrell reflects, “It’s hard to get dollars from a luxury brand to do something down market. We wanted to put something cohesive together

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