This story is published in partnership with Bacardi’s Spirit Forward Women in Leadership series, an annual summit dedicated to championing the spirits trade community and accelerating the advancement of women. For more information, and to find out how you can attend the program’s five-city tour, click here.
Ezra Star cannot learn enough. Almost every month, the general manager of Drink in Boston travels somewhere new to see what other bartenders are up to, absorbs as much as she can and then, like a cocktail-obsessed Darwin on a boozy HMS Beagle, carries it back to share the knowledge with her team. (Fact: She visited 30 states last year and notes Nashville and San Diego as highlights of her tour.) “A bar is an expression of a community,” says Star, “and not just the community around it, but the staff itself. And I want my community to grow.”
Before Star knew she was destined to helm one of the country’s most respected bars, she studied medicine and biochemistry, which is reflected in her curiosity for building drinks and pushing technical boundaries. She admits to loving systems and craving technical mastery of one skill before moving on to learning the next; she insisted on perfecting the position of barback before moving forward.
Lately, dehydration and no-waste cocktails made from leftover ingredients from Drink’s sister restaurant Sportello have occupied her attention (see “Mushroom” below). And because she appreciates travel, often the idea for a drink will begin with the idea of a place or the flavors she tasted in there. “I also often look to historical drinks and try to imagine them now,” she says. Both of these ideas can then be layered into traditional blueprints, as in the Near Martinique Swizzle or the 1910, to create an inventive, adventurous, yet classic hybrid.
“Based on the Martinique Swizzle from Trader Vic, this riff uses grenadine in place of cane syrup. I am obsessed with the combination of absinthe and grenadine—any combination of dark fruits and anise or mint—which is inspired by Mediterranean food and the classic pairing of pomegranate with fennel. You don’t see it often in the U.S., but you see it in the south of France. I wanted to play around with this combination for a straightforward adaptation of a classic.”
“This cocktail was part of a series where we used all leftover ingredients from our sister kitchen at Sportello to reduce waste. I wanted to find a method that would recreate some of the yeasty, mushroom-y flavors you get with vintage Champagne so I thought, why not just use mushrooms? It also plays around a bit with dehydration techniques.”
“I named this for the Mexican Revolution, playing off another of our house cocktails called the 1919, which is named for the Molasses Flood in Boston. It’s the same idea, but talking about a different place. For me, cocktails are about the taste of a place. It’s a mezcal- and cognac-based variation on a Manhattan that I made for a competition. I’ve become obsessed with this build over the years. Really, I just put all my favorite things in a glass.”