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Boston Bartenders Reveal Their Favorite Cocktails to Make

For the last installment of the Cocktail Week 2015 bartender survey, local bartenders reveal their favorite drinks to make.

Shutterstock/Ivan Mateev

Alex Homans

"My favorite cocktail to make is the one about which my guest is most enthusiastic. Whether it be a Ramos Gin Fizz, or a Whiskey and Ginger, knowing that my guest is going to truly enjoy their beverage is the most gratifying feeling." —Alex Homans, owner and beverage manager of The Frogmore

Image credit: Courtesy of Caitlin Cunningham/The Frogmore

Naomi Levy

"My answer is so lame, but I love when I get to make the right cocktail for the right person at the right time. When you get it right, that’s when it’s my favorite." Naomi Levy, bar manager at Eastern Standard

Image credit: Lisa Richov for Eastern Standard

Nicholas Mansur

"Probably the Manhattan. It’s just so simple. It’s three ingredients; there’s something cathartic about making them, stirring them." Nicholas Mansur, bar manager at Shepard

Image credit: Emily Phares for Eater

Angela Lamb

"I have never had a favorite cocktail to make. Whenever I learn something new I'll get super into making whatever it is until the next interesting thing comes along that speaks to me." —Angela Lamb, bar manager at Coda Bar & Kitchen

Image credit: Provided

Fred Yarm

"Lately, it has been tiki drinks for they allow a bit of play in the drinking vessel, garnish, and ingredients, and the proper combination (plus or minus a flaming garnish) can generate a lot of joy and amazement in the guest and the others at the bar." —Fred Yarm, bar manager at Loyal Nine

Image credit: Provided

Nino Nunziante

"Growing up in San Diego for half my life and working in a tequila bar there for four years, the margarita made with the proper ingredients is my favorite cocktail to make. People make this famous cocktail many ways, and I like to think mine is one of the best: fresh lemon/lime, agave, OJ, and a splash of water. Luckily at Tico we have all these ingredients." Nino Nunziante, bartender at Tico

Image credit: Provided

Kayla Quigley

"I really enjoy making a Sazerac. It seems to be overshadowed by its big brothers of the whiskey cocktail family, Manhattan and old fashioned, but it often introduces people to absinthe. It's a well-balanced cocktail with a punch." —Kayla Quigley, bartender at Sweet Cheeks

Image credit: Provided

Tyler Wang

"Sazerac. John Gertsen. The Sazerac’s a delicious cocktail; I used to drink them a lot more than I do now. But really it’s a tradition thing; it’s making mom’s apple pie, for me." Tyler Wang, bar manager at Audubon

Image credit: Emily Phares for Eater

Will Thompson

"I really like making dry martinis and margaritas." Will Thompson, beverage director at Yvonne's

Image credit: Provided

Emmet Kelty

"I couldn't tell you one particular cocktail I enjoy making. I guess my favorite cocktail to make is a cocktail I haven't made yet, for a guest I haven't met, who is going to fall in love with that libation. There is an unrivaled feeling of satisfaction when you create that bond between guest and yourself via booze concoction." —Emmet Kelty, bar manager at 51 Lincoln

Image credit: Provided

Thea Engst

"I love making (and drinking) strong and stirred whiskey cocktails, but I also love when someone comes in, tells me what they normally like, what flavors they're looking for, and lets me create something just for them." Thea Engst, bar manager at River Bar

Image credit: Provided

Will Isaza

"Spanish coffee. I am a sucker for rum, and not very many people order them. At Fairsted we have the ability to make them with lots of very local ingredients, and it's always a pleasure to showcase and support our local distillers, coffee roasters, etc. So it's nice to make something guests haven't had before, and it's a cool-looking process!" Will Isaza, spirit whisperer at Fairsted Kitchen

Image credit: Provided

Todd Lipman

"A Sazerac, on a chilly night. Next to a negroni, it’s one of those hard to beat classic cocktails…balance, depth, complex aromas, texture. It’s truly satisfying when done correctly. Where’s my bar spoon?!" —Todd Lipman, head sommelier at Bistro du Midi

Image credit: Provided

Michelle Raye

"My favorite cocktail to make has got to be a fresh margarita, using fresh squeezed lime juice, agave, Solerno blood orange liqueur, and a great reposado tequila like Cazadores. I just love the tartness of the lime, and it's such a far reach from the old 'sour mix' margarita." —Michelle Raye, general manager of Vida Cantina in Portsmouth, NH

Image credit: Provided

Shawn Westhoven

"Negroni — because it can be awful or awesome, and it immediately tells a guest if the bartender is paying attention. The best negroni is at Papa Razzi Metro — hands down!" —Shawn Westhoven, beverage director of Papa Razzi Trattoria and Papa Razzi Metro

Image credit: Provided

Joe Fisketti

"I learned this one from our company's director of operations, Alec Riveros. Take one sip of an ice cold bottle of Miller High Life. Take one shot of Old Overholt, and pour it into the High Life. Drink it fast." —Joe Fisketti, beverage manager at Rosebud American Kitchen & Bar

Image credit: Provided

Aquitaine cocktail

"Manhattan. There is something to be said when it's done right. The reaction from the patron is always memorable." —Ludgie Beauvais, bartender at Aquitaine Boston

Image credit: Provided

Dave Miller

"Any shrub cocktail. Shrub cocktails made a resurgence a number of years back, but you’d be shocked as to how many people have yet to try one. I enjoy watching the facial expressions as their palates are challenged by the changing flavor profile." Dave Miller, lead bartender at Clink and The Liberty Bar in The Liberty Hotel

Image credit: Provided

Michael Boughton - BNV

"Hate to sound cliché but definitely a negroni. Simple, balanced, delicious. One of the first craft cocktails I've ever tried and near and dear to my heart." —Michael Boughton, corporate beverage director of Boston Nightlife Ventures

Image credit: Provided

Tony Romano

"A Toronto. Not many people know of it, but if the guest is a rye whiskey enthusiast, this one is sure to impress. I like to make it because it is comprised of some of my favorite ingredients: rye whiskey, Fernet Branca, and orange bitters." —Tony Romano, bartender at BOKX109

Image credit: Provided

Kaylee Platt

"Sazerac. I really enjoy making classic cocktails, and this one is definitely a classic!" Kaylee Platt, manager of City Bar Westin

Image credit: Provided

Dagan Migirditch

"The Last Word. It's balanced, it's old, people tend to be surprised by it, and it's green. Honestly, this last fact is 95% of the reason why I like to make it. Green's a great color." —Dagan Migirditch, general manager of Franklin Oyster House in Portsmouth, NH

Image credit: Provided

Kevin Khem

"Sazerac. It's a classic cocktail — purportedly the first ever invented — yet many people have never had one. It's also one of my personal favorites." —Kevin Khem, restaurant manager at ArtBar at the Royal Sonesta

Image credit: Provided

Wolfertz horizontal

"I know it's kind of a broad answer, but anything seasonal. I love playing with local herbs and fruit. Whatever is in season locally inspires our cocktail list at Moxy and working with local foragers pushes us to expand what we know and how to use the different ingredients." —Owen Wolfertz, general manager at Moxy in Portsmouth, NH

Image credit: Provided

Rob Hoover - La Brasa

"Vieux carré because it looks really pretty. We used hand-hewed ice and a barspoon full of benedictine and build over the ice. It just makes a nice show." —Rob Hoover, bar manager at La Brasa

Image credit: Provided

Sean Barney

"My favorite cocktail to make is a Manhattan because I appreciate it when it's done well." —Sean Barney, bar manager and cocktail chef at il Casale Lexington, as well as cocktail chef for il Casale Belmont and restaurant Dante

Image credit: Provided

Chris O'Neill

"Last Word. Equal parts, great balance, nice color; I somehow end up making a little too much..." Chris O’Neill, bartender at Deuxave

Image credit: Provided

Vincent Conte

"Our own Sweater Weather. It's just a great drink. Vanilla-infused bourbon, Ramazzotti Amaro, spiced coffee reduction." Vincent Conte, lead bartender at Posto

Image credit: Provided

Rob Ficks

"Double Down Swizzle. Who doesn't like to swizzle?" —Rob Ficks, lead bartender at Craigie on Main

Image credit: Provided

Peter Szigeti

"Tiki forever." —Peter Szigeti, beverage director at Committee

Image credit: Provided

Kerem Benyamini

"Michter's Manhattan. But I also like making drinks that take something traditional, like a Cape Codder, and doing it with pear vodka to create something really great but simple enough for anyone to enjoy. Crowd-pleasers can be a lot of fun when they are also different." —Kerem Benyamini, general manager at Rowes Wharf Sea Grille and Rowes Wharf Bar at the Boston Harbor Hotel

Image credit: Provided

Mike Thomas 2

"Always enjoyed making Manhattans and martinis. Two classics everyone should know how to make and make right!" —Mike Thomas, bar manager at Gather in District Hall

Image credit: Provided

Lindolfo Silva

"My next new creation!" —Lindolfo Silva, lead bartender at The Painted Burro

Image credit: Provided

Davide Crusoe

"Ramos Fizz. If done well, it does take a while, and your arm will feel like falling off, but worth the effort for sure." Davide Crusoe, beverage director at Chopps American Bar and Grill in Burlington

Image credit: Provided

Eric Cross

"Don The Beachcomber's Zombie. Complex, fun, and delicious — and you can light on fire!" Eric Cross, beverage director at Five Horses South End

Image credit: Provided

Mike Wyatt

"Whatever you're in the mood for!" Mike Wyatt, bar manager at Ward 8

Image credit: Provided

Joe Cammarata

"A negroni for my wife." —Joe Cammarata, co-bar manager at Hojoko

Image credit: Kristin Teig for Hojoko

Daren Swisher

"Shaken with citrus: blanc Agricole Rhum daiquiri. Stirred: Toronto." —Daren Swisher, co-bar manager at Hojoko

Image credit: Averil Lowry for Hojoko

Jarek Mountain

"Anything stirred, because it's elegant." —Jarek Mountain, bartender at Back Bay Harry's

Image credit: Provided

Dave Spielberg

"Got to love making a mai tai. Great tiki history there. Also, the pineapple-shaped tiki glass I put it in is pretty neat." Dave Spielberg, bartender at The Salty Pig

Image credit: Provided

Tim Kotkowski

"Any 'and' drink: rum and coke, vodka and soda, whiskey and ginger. Doesn't get any easier than that! Only kidding — I really enjoy making cocktails tailored to my customer's palate, what kind of mood they're in, or even factors like the weather. That's what makes bartending so fun and personal to me." Timothy Kotkowski, Pastoral

Image credit: Provided

Jared Sadoian

"A well-made negroni is about as close to a perfect cocktail, in my mind. So in addition to drinking them, I enjoy making them (with great care and attention)!" —Jared Sadoian, bar manager at The Hawthorne

Image credit: Provided

Chuck Guterl

"Old fashioned because it has a little bit of everything!" Chuck Guterl, beverage manager at Scampo

Image credit: Provided

Justin Lipata

"On my current cocktail list, my favorite one to make has to be our 'Blonde Frenchman' with Tanteo Cocoa tequila, Combier Liqueur d'Orange, orgeat, Peychaud's, and orange. It has so many flavor changes as you drink it. Plus, it looks damn pretty." Justin Lipata, bar manager at Bukowski Tavern (Cambridge)

Image credit: Provided

Nick Giannotti

" A really nice Manhattan. Or anything with whiskey that doesn’t have to be muddled." Nick Giannotti, bar manager at The Tip Tap Room

Image credit: Provided

Patrick Foley

"I love straw tasting White Russians and rye Manhattans." Patrick Foley, bar manager at The Independent

Image credit: Provided

Patrick Sullivan

"Daiquiris. Perfection in a glass. I love trying different rums, different syrups, etc. The possibilities are endless. DTO for life!" Patrick Sullivan, executive director of bar operations for the Legal Sea Foods brands

Image credit: Provided

Paulo Pereira

"I can't say I have a favorite as there are so many I could make a case for, but for argument’s sake, let’s say a vieux carre. It's a beautiful and delicate yet spirit-forward drink that hits on so many levels. It's always fun to watch a bartender make one, and it's beautiful in its presentation as well." Paulo Pereira, beverage director at Brass Union

Image credit: Provided

Schuyler Hunton

"I could give the industry standard response, which is, ‘The one that makes the guest most happy and fulfills exactly what they are looking for,’ but honestly, I really like making classic mint juleps. There is something about the layering of crushed ice with bourbon and just gently stirring in a julep cup. The cup should be all frosted, and I like garnishing with a huge bouquet of mint. It's a truly beautiful cocktail when prepared correctly, and it's one of my favorite cocktails when finished." Schuyler Hunton, beverage director at Foundry on Elm & Saloon

Image credit: Natasha Moustache

Casey Furtaw

"Anything with egg whites because of their unparalleled texture." Casey Furtaw, head bartender at Osteria Nino in Burlington

Image credit: Provided

Vikram Hegde

"I’ve always enjoyed the show of making egg white drinks, the technique involved, the way everyone asks 'What the hell was that?' whenever they go out. I can say that now that I don’t have to make them that often." Vikram Hegde, general manager at Island Creek Oyster Bar

Image credit: Provided


"My favorite cocktail to make right now is a vieux carre with Armagnac, bonded rye, and our house-made, barrel-aged sweet vermouth." Seth Freidus, bar manager at Alden & Harlow

Image credit: Emily Phares for Eater

Todd Maul Rachel Leah Blumenthal for Eater

"My response to that is always that my favorite drink to make is the drink that the person doesn’t have to ask for. When a bar regular walks in and sits down, I just make them a drink and give it to them. That’s my favorite drink, because to me, the really cool thing about that first drink when you make someone a drink is like starting a playlist that you send your boyfriend or your girlfriend. The whole thing starts off with that one idea, and you’re moving off that idea. It’s that first drink when somebody comes in and doesn’t want to have to explain what they want to drink — you just give them a drink, and that kind of sets the tone for the rest of the evening." Todd Maul, bar director and partner at Cafe Artscience

Image credit: Rachel Leah Blumenthal for Eater

Ryan McGrale

"Bamboo. It’s a beautiful aperitif cocktail and after-dinner cocktail as well. Goes well with many eating and drinking experiences. Gets the guest into a category that they are likely not to be familiar with. Also, it’s low in ABV so you can drink several without the after-effects similar to a cocktail with higher ABV." Ryan McGrale, beverage director at Tavern Road

Image credit: Provided

Kyle Powell

"Sam Treadway taught me it’s about reading your guest, and it’s something I still think about. Making cocktails is not about some dusty old bar book or the newest technique. It’s about the guest at that particular moment in time and finding the right drink for them. If I can do that I’ve accomplished my job. But the look on one's face after they’ve had their first proper daiquiri? That’s always a favorite moment of mine." Kyle Powell, bar manger of State Street Provisions (opening in November 2015)

Image credit: Provided

Tainah Soares

"Sazeracs. It was the first crafty cocktail I really enjoyed having. I would go to Drink before I started working in Boston just to have them!" Tainah Soares, bartender at Trina’s Starlite Lounge

Image credit: Provided

Corey Bunnewith

"Old fashioned. Classic, delicious, everything you need." Corey Bunnewith, co-founder and proprietor of Boston Harbor Distillery

Image credit: Provided

Adam Avelar

"I've always enjoyed making a Last Word. It's simple enough to make; all of the ingredients, which are some of my favorites, are equally portioned and balance out very well." Adam Avelar, bar manager at The Sinclair

Image credit: Provided

"Whatever I'm currently workshopping! What better way to fine tune a drink than to make it over and over until the pieces all fall into place." Yuri Bredbeck, beverage director at Tres Gatos

"I really like making an old fashioned. When guests watch you make one, it usually inspires a lot of questions: 'What's that you're making?' or 'Why aren't there cherries in there?' I like sharing with guests that this is a very classic version of the old fashioned, and of course I like watching people enjoy it!" Erin Mahoney, bar director at Row 34 (Portsmouth)

"Sazerac. The reason is that it's this wonderfully paced process. You don't throw a sazerac together; sazeracs take some time. You have the rinse and the delicate nature of that, and then you have stirring to proper dilution, and you have a very simple combination of ingredients that really just pair nicely together. Making a sazerac is as much about making a sazerac as enjoying a sazerac." Adam Lantheaume, owner of The Boston Shaker

Brass Union

70 Union Square, , MA 02143 (617) 623-9211 Visit Website

The Liberty Hotel

215 Charles St, Boston, MA 02114 (617) 224-4000 Visit Website

Back Bay Harry's

142 Berkeley St, Boston, MA 02116 (617) 424-6711 Visit Website

Five Horses Tavern

400 Highland Avenue, , MA 02144 (617) 764-1655 Visit Website

51 Lincoln

51 Lincoln St, Newton Highlands, MA 02461

Craigie On Main

853 Main Street, , MA 02139 (617) 497-5511 Visit Website

Sweet Cheeks

1381 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02215 617 266 1300 Visit Website

Tres Gatos

470 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts 02130 617 477 4851 Visit Website

Fairsted Kitchen

Beacon St, Brookline, MA (617) 396-8752

Rosebud American Kitchen & Bar

381 Summer Street, , MA 02144 (617) 629-9500 Visit Website


1 Shepard Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

The Independent

75 Union Square, , MA 02143 (617) 440-6022 Visit Website

Osteria Nino

19 3rd Ave, Burlington, MA 01803 (781) 272-1600

The Painted Burro

219 Elm Street, , MA 02144 (617) 776-0005 Visit Website

Trina's Starlite Lounge

3 Beacon Street, , MA 02143 (617) 576-0006 Visit Website

The Tip Tap Room

138 Cambridge Street, Boston, MA 02114 857 263 7614 Visit Website

River Bar

661 Assembly Row, , MA 02145 (617) 616-5561 Visit Website


40 Edwin H Land Boulevard, , MA 02142 (617) 806-4200 Visit Website

The Frogmore

365 Centre St, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130 (857) 203-9462

The Salty Pig

130 Dartmouth Street, , MA 02116 (617) 536-6200 Visit Website

Bistro du Midi

272 Boylston Street, , MA 02116 (617) 426-7878 Visit Website

The Hawthorne

500A Commonwealth Avenue, , MA 02215 (617) 532-9150 Visit Website

Eastern Standard

528 Commonwealth Avenue, , MA 02215 (617) 532-9100 Visit Website

Ward 8

90 North Washington Street, , MA 02114 (617) 823-4478 Visit Website

La Brasa

124 Broadway, , MA 02145 (617) 764-1412 Visit Website


345 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210 617 345 0005 Visit Website


1271 Boylston Street, , MA 02215 (617) 670-0507 Visit Website

State Street Provisions

255 State St., Boston, MA 02109

Tavern Road

343 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210 617 790 0808

Cafe ArtScience

650 East Kendall Street, , MA 02142 (857) 999-2193 Visit Website

Scampo at The Liberty Hotel

215 Charles St, Boston, MA 02114 857 241 1150 Visit Website


1926 14th Street Northwest, , DC 20009 (202) 319-1400 Visit Website


446 South Coast Highway, , CA 92651 (949) 494-5469

City Bar

65 Exeter Street, Boston, MA 02116-3505 617-933-4801 Visit Website


569 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02118 (617) 424-8577 Visit Website

Boston Harbor Hotel

70 Rowes Wharf, , MA 02110 (617) 439-7000 Visit Website

BOKX 109 American Prime

399 Grove St, Newton, MA 02462 617-454-3399 Visit Website

Foundry On Elm

255 Elm Street, , MA 02144 (617) 628-9999 Visit Website


838 Beacon Street, , MA 02215 (617) 421-1910 Visit Website

Alden & Harlow

40 Brattle Street, , MA 02138 (617) 864-2100 Visit Website


50 Northern Avenue, Boston, MA 02110 Visit Website

Loyal Nine

660 Cambridge Street, , MA 02141 (617) 945-2576 Visit Website

Papa Razzi

159 Newbury St, Boston, MA 02116 (617) 536-9200 Visit Website

Row 34

383 Congress Street, , MA 02210 (617) 553-5900 Visit Website


371 Commonwealth Avenue, , MA 02115 (617) 517-5915 Visit Website


75 Northern Avenue, , MA 02210 (617) 982-7220 Visit Website

Il Casale Cucina Campana + Bar

1727 Massachusetts Ave, Lexington, MA 02420 (781) 538-5846 Visit Website


329 Columbus Ave, Boston, MA 02116 617-536-2632 Visit Website


3 Winter Pl., Boston, MA 02108 Visit Website

Posto (Somerville)

187 Elm St., Somerville, MA 02140 Visit Website

The Sinclair

52 Church Street, , MA 02138 (617) 547-5200 Visit Website

Bukowski Tavern (Inman Square)

1281 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139 (617) 497-7077 Visit Website

Boston Harbor Distillery

12r Ericsson ST, Dorchester, MA 02122 (617) 533-7001

Island Creek Oyster Bar

500 Commonwealth Avenue, , MA 02215 (617) 532-5300 Visit Website