Raising the Bar: Misty Kalkofen

Misty Kalkofen has recently been thinking about mezcal and tequila…a lot. They’re her latest interest—or, maybe, obsession. “It’s become a passion for me,” she admits.

The production and wildly varied flavors of these agave-based spirits fascinate her plenty (and have prompted several research trips south of the border), but it’s their consumption that holds her attention most.

“My interest in tequila has led me to realize that there are aspects of tribalism and symbolic use of beverages of many sorts,” she says—whether it’s wine in the Catholic Communion ceremony and Jewish Shabbat services or distilled spirits in other cultures.

Kalkofen’s background gives her a unique perspective on such matters. Several years ago, she was working her way through Harvard Divinity School as a server at the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge, Mass. One night, a bartender failed to show up. Kalkofen was pulled off the floor and put behind the bar. And—long story short—she never emerged. “I just caught the bug,” she says.

After finishing up her master of theological studies degree, Kalkofen gave some thought to her future plans. But the answer was close at hand. “I had a job that made me really happy,” she says. “Why would I change?”

Brother Cleve, a local musician as well as a pioneer in the classic-cocktail revival, introduced Kalkofen to forgotten drams. She took what she learned and expanded on it at two Cambridge bars, B-Side Lounge and Green Street. She then crossed the Charles to work at Drink, Barbara Lynch’s acclaimed establishment in the Fort Point neighborhood that has helped reenergize Boston’s mixology scene.

Kalkofen likes that the craft cocktail movement has reintroduced some old imbibing rituals, especially the glorious return of punch. “The communal aspect of drinking is something that was really lost along the way,” she says. “The bar should be someplace where you go and talk to people.”

Perhaps a little like a church.

The Guadalajara

Contributed by Misty Kalkofen

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 oz Siete Leguas Reposado Tequila
  • .5 oz Fernet-Branca
  • .5 oz Agave syrup (one part agave nectar, one part water)
  • 2 dashes Bittermens Xocolatl Mole Bitters
  • Garnish: Orange oil
  • Glass: Cocktail

PREPARATION:

Add all the ingredients to a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Twist a piece of orange peel over the glass and discard it.

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Wayne Curtis writes about drinks for The Atlantic and is the author of And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails. He is also host of the site Slowcocktails.com.

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