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9 Up-and-Coming Bartenders You Need to Know in Boston

By Scott Kearnan
April 21, 2014

Boston is full of amazing mixologists, yet we often see the same bold-faced names popping up in various lists of top talent. There's no doubt that our local bigwigs have earned their outsized reputation, but there are also plenty of other bartenders who deserve a bit more spotlight. We've gathered up some whose talent we'd like to toast: from vets with industry cred but without wider recognition to true newcomers who are already pouring it on strong. 

  • Scott Schoer, bar manager at Sycamore

    Why we're watching him: Because not only does he make some of the best cocktails around, he's an unheralded hero who has helped open several spots since jumping behind the stick in '97, including Excelsior, Abigail's and now Sycamore. 

    Favorite drink to make: Cosmopolitan. "It was my first ‘favorite’ cocktail; I’m old. I love to make them for guests who haven’t had one in years and really blow their minds when it’s made properly with fresh ingredients."

    Favorite hangover cure: A roast-beef sandwich on an onion roll, three ways. "What can I say? I’m a sucker for an 8,000-calorie sandwich."

    Customer pet peeve: "When I ask how you’re doing, and you proceed to order."

    Funniest experience on the bar: "When Tara Reid and Lindsay Lohan were making out at my bar. Oh, never mind. It’s a boring story anyway."

  • Shaher Misif, lead bartender at Highball Lounge

    Why we're watching him: Because after making his mark at San Francisco spots like Bar Drake and Cantina, Misif moved to Boston to help open this Downtown bar, where guests drink over board games and DJ-spun house grooves, in November. His cocktails are creative and the bar's whimsical flourishes (like rubber duckies floating in drinks) help to loosen up a stuffy cocktail scene. 

    Favorite drink to make: "Something new. I like to constantly challenge myself. Or something with fire; I'm a bit of a pyro."

    Favorite drink to drink: House-blended amaro. 

    Favorite hangover cure: Pho or ramen. "There's nothing like some citrus, heat and spice to get you going!"

    One person he wishes he could pour a drink for: "Jesus? Maybe we can have a competition of who can turn water into wine faster!"

  • Katrina Jazayeri, bartender at Belly Wine Bar

    Why we're watching her: Because despite being fairly new to the behind-the-bar scene (Jazayeri was previously a server at Belly) she's already making her mark in both cocktails and cool special events. Jazayeri has recently been collaborating with Beacon Hill Hotel & Bistro chef Josh Lewin (our recent 30 Under 30 honoree) on special barbecue dinners, breakfast-taco pop-ups and more. 

    Favorite drink to make: "I've been playing around with different flavors like dried lime, a Persian spice that gives a slightly bitter, earthy flavor, which makes something simple like a gimlet into something new and special. I also love to pickle things, and I've been using the liquid to make martinis. The best one so far has been a spring-onion pickle; the touch of sweetness is really nice with the briny pickle."

    Favorite hangover cure: Breakfast tacos, obviously. "I grew up in Austin, and a good potato, egg and cheese breakfast taco with lots of salsa was the best breakfast after a night out. Hangover or not, it's my favorite way to start a day. Throw in a gin Bloody Mary and it's just about the perfect meal."

    Funniest experience on the bar: "One Saturday night my whole bar was filled with Italians, and I was offered a job picking grapes at a vineyard in Tuscany by a group of visiting wine makers."

    One person she wishes she could pour a drink for: Does a couple count? "I'd love to make a drink, probably several, for Nick and Nora Charles, the couple from the Thin Man movies. They are the epitome of romance and luxury, and they love a good martini."

  • Bryn Tattan, bartender at Merrill & Co. 

    Why we're watching her: Because in just five years she's packed in work at some of the area's best bars, including stints at Barbara Lynch's Drink, backbar and now Merrill & Co., where she works with another star in the scene: beverage director Kevin Mabry, one of our 30 Under 30 honorees. (Tattan also works Tales of the Cocktail every year.) 

    Favorite drink to make: Tattan is a "sucker for carbonated cocktails and slushies!"

    Favorite drink to drink"My spirit animal: whiskey."

    Favorite hangover cure: "The ideal cure is preventing the hangover all together. Constantly crush soda water!"

    Customer pet peeve: Gum chewing. Particularly "choice of disposal."

  • Heather Mojer, bar manager and co-owner at State Park

    Why we're watching her: Because Mojer has a vested interest in every drink; she's actually a co-owner of State Park, the new sibling of Hungry Mother, where she first landed behind the bar in '09. Mojer is also a member of one of our favorite cocktail groups, LUPEC: Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails. 

    Favorite drink to drinkNotch Session Pils. "It's usually my shift drink after a long day."

    Favorite hangover cure: "Twisting poses at yoga. The teachers always say that they wring out toxins."

    Funniest experience on the bar: "That one time I taped a pair of mixing spoons to my hands..."

    One person she wishes she could pour a drink for: Food writer Jim Harrison. "But I'll settle for my boyfriend Evan's dad, who shares the same name. If you read Jim Harrison's food writing, you'd want to drink with him too."

  • Jared Sadoian, beverage director at Craigie on Main and Kirkland Tap & Trotter

    Why we're watching him: Because about three years ago, Sadoian gave up his job at a Manhattan investment bank to become a full-time bartender. Now he runs the beverage program at Craigie (and its sibling spot), where he used to be a regular during his college days at MIT. 

    Favorite drink to make: Egg drinks. "There's a certain air of mystery, even today, when you transform those raw ingredients into a fluffy, rich, textured treat. We put eggs in our Espresso Martini - the range of reactions from guests gives you a chance to engage with them and get them into something that may be off the beaten path for them."

    Favorite drink to drink: 
Negroni. "They're delicious at any hour of the day, and at any time of the year."

    Funniest experience on the bar: "
Space is certainly at a premium behind the Craigie bar. The two bartenders behind the stick have to dance pretty nimbly around each other. One night, one of our senior bartenders, Rob, and I got wedged hip-to-hip as we tried to pass each other. It literally took us a good 5 seconds to get unstuck. A lot of laughs at our expense ensued."

    One person he wishes he could pour a drink for: "My grandfather. He suffered from a stroke when I was quite young and I never really got to know him that well before he passed."

  • Naomi Levy, assistant bar manager at Eastern Standard

    Why we're watching her: Because hard work and a passion for her craft have turned Levy into someone that cocktail connoisseurs respect. She's been in the restaurant industry for a decade, starting at a Ruby Tuesday's in Maryland; she came to Eastern Standard after serving bar director Jackson Cannon and his wife at Hungry Mother. Earlier this year she also represented America as a finalist at the USBG Legacy Cocktail Showcase in Moscow. 

    Favorite drink to make: Sidecar. "It was the first classic cocktail I ever was introduced to outside the martini and Manhattan, so I have a fondness for that drink for sure."

    
Favorite drink to drink: "I drink pretty seasonally. Pimm's cups in the summer and lately I've been drinking a lot more sherry and sherry-based cocktails in the winter. I'm not a big drinker, and I'm kind of a lightweight, so I stick to low-proof most of the time so that I can hold my own."

    Favorite hangover cure: Water. "It's what we're made of."

    One person she wishes she could pour a drink for: "Patti Smith, because she's a badass. And I hope to be half as cool as her one day."

  • Tenzin Conechok Samdo, head bartender at Trade

    Why we're watching him: Because he's sorta social-media famous. Samdo's Instagram account @bostonmixdrink, filled with cocktail glamour shots and fun videos from area bars, has already attracted nearly 8K followers from around the world. But Samdo shines IRL too, especially through the new "TRADECreates" program, where guests fill out a super-quick questionnaire about favorite adjectives ("smoky," "herbal," "dry," etc.)  and let bartenders improvise the rest.

    Favorite part of his job: "Representing Boston," says Samdo, who grew up in India, where his parents were Tibetan refugees. "I feel I can do this from the bar. My heart is here and no matter how many big brands approach me, I like to support the local companies like WireWorks, Privateer and BullyBoy."

    Favorite drink to make: Sazerac, which is also his favorite to drink. "It's one of the oldest cocktails and it has beautiful story, no matter the evolution it is going through - it has a legacy. I judge a bartender by how he makes a Sazerac."

    Favorite hangover cure: Momo, Tibetan beef dumplings. "Jody [Adams] and I are making this for her blog The Garum Factory in a few weeks!"

    Favorite experience on the bar: Playing matchmaker between a regular customer and a fellow bartender. "I matched them up. They're the most in love couple ever!" says Samdo. (But save the actual romance for home. His biggest pet peeve is "making out at the bar.")

  • Mike Wyatt, bar manager at Ward 8

    Why we're watching him: Because the 25-year old Eastern Standard alum has created a truly strong cocktail program at North End newcomer Ward 8, giving locals in the infamously Italian 'hood a place to stop in for post-work drinks that involve something other than red wine. 

    Favorite drink to make: Old Fashioned. "It's the original cocktail. Simple and delicious. Plus I love whiskey."

    Favorite drink to drink: Funny enough, this masterful cocktail maker would rather have a beer. "But when I do drink cocktails I usually go for stirred whiskey cocktails; something in the Manhattan/Old Fashioned family."  

    Customer pet peeve: "Stealing olives and cherries. It's not a buffet."

    One person he wishes he could pour a drink for: Earnest Hemingway. "I just finished the book To Have and Have Another: A Hemingway Cocktail Companion. Interesting man who really enjoyed making and drinking delicious cocktails."

  /  

Places Mentioned

Craigie On Main

French • Cambridge

Food28 Decor24 Service26 Cost$72
 
 
 
sycamore.

Bistro • Newton

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
Eastern Standard Bar

Bar • Fenway/Kenmore

Atmo.27 Decor26 Service25 Cost 
 
 
 
BELLY wine bar

American • Cambridge

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
Trade

Mediterranean • Waterfront

Food24 Decor23 Service20 Cost$46
 
 
 
Ward 8

Bar • North End

Atmo.- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
State Park Restaurant

American • Cambridge

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
Highball Lounge

Bar • Downtown

Atmo.- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
Merrill & Co.

American • South End

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
 
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