Ezra Star, general manager of Boston’s trailblazing Drink, began her career in another profession entirely; prior to joining the team back in 2010, she was working in a lab as a biochemist and studying to become a doctor.
But she was quick to learn, after taking a job as a barback, that she was drawn to hospitality and had a knack for drink-making—even in a place offering the sort of à la minute cocktail culture found at Drink. The protégé of bartender John Gertsen, Star took over as GM just a few years ago, in 2014, and continues to refine the inner workings of the nine-year-old institution. By systematizing its training programs and upping her efforts to breed more collaboration between the kitchen and bar, Star manages to maintain Drink’s almost idiosyncratic attention to detail, keeping it fresh-feeling nearly ten years in.
So what does Star do when she’s not drinking or drink-making? And what’s the weirdest hobby she’s ever had? Here, Star tackles our Lookbook Questionnaire to share her weirdest cocktail experiment, the strangest drink request she’s ever received and her go-to drink in a dive bar.
General Manager of Drink in Boston and Consultant (not the bad kind).
What do want to be when you grow up?
My first goal is never to fully grow up, but if I find myself looking back and realizing I have, I would hope that I am having a good time and making ridiculous things for people to enjoy… Oh, shit! I guess I already do that (excellent!). Next question, please.
Best thing you ever drank:
I wish I could say the best thing I ever drank was a magical beer and shot pairing while swinging from a banister, but in reality, it was a wine. Jacques Selosse to be exact. I was drinking it out of a plastic cup, though.
Worst thing you ever drank:
I had guest (fairly eccentric guy) who would always come in and dare me to make the worst cocktail imaginable. After a couple of years of attempts, we perfected it: muddled cocktail onions, coffee liqueur, Gran Classico, crème de menthe (green), lemon juice, Luxardo Maraschino with a nutmeg rinse.
First time you ever got drunk:
When I was young, my mom caught me trying to steal beers from our fridge to drink them. She told me I couldn’t have any beer. Not being a person who gives up, I went and found a book on fermentation (no internet yet) and figured out I could make a light “beer” using pineapple. So I went and bought myself a pineapple, some bread yeast, and a bunch of sugar and made a beer that my friend and I could drink. It tasted kind of good (but I was young). We drank the entire thing one night and got very drunk. Worst hangover, btw.
If you had to listen to one album on loop, for the rest of your life, what would it be?
The Flaming Lips’ “The Soft Bulletin.” Just so good and epic.
What’s the weirdest hobby you currently have or have had?
I like to collect bizarre hobbies on monthly rotation. Once, I made pasta every single morning for a year (hand-rolled). This month, I am trying to collect miniature plastic dinosaurs for a diorama I am making in my living room next to my plants.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known five years ago?
How to save money.
Weirdest cocktail experiment you’ve ever attempted:
See above about the worst cocktail ever.
What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not eating, drinking or drink-making?
I’m a huge movie buff. I also like to paint, draw, write, travel and take long walks on the beach preferably under the moonlight (said with a faint-y, wisp-y breath).
Weirdest drink request you’ve ever gotten:
Breast milk cocktail from a woman in a wheelchair. It was strangely good. (That’s right, I tasted it.)
Your favorite bar, and why:
My favorite bar, aside from Drink, is probably Attaboy (I wish I could be more original on this). I have been all over the world and been to many, many bars, but Attaboy is the only place I feel I could always end up and generally have a consistently good time.
Best meal you’ve ever had:
I went back to visit my family in Venezuela. I hadn’t seen my grandmother in 18 years. She said she wanted to cook for me and made me a plate of tejadas (fried plantains), with local cheese grated on top and a beer on the side. It is one of the best food moments of my life and nothing has compared since.
What’s your go-to drink in a cocktail bar?
Sazerac with Cognac.
Light red wines from France, preferably natural, but there are some damn fine wines that aren’t.
In a dive bar?
Henny and Coke.
Your preferred hangover recovery regime:
Matcha tea, dashi, water, water, sleep, movie, pizza, Guinness.
The one thing you wish would disappear from drink lists forever:
The term “housemade.”
The last text message you sent:
“Don’t do surgery on yourself! I’ve tried, not recommended”