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In this episode Shawn goes back to his hometown, Boston, Massachusetts to meet up with Lou Saban at Oak Long Bar. They head up the coast on a search for something sweet and something salty to mix into their uniquely New England concoction.

Daily food & travel inspiration in your inbox

Daily food & travel inspiration in your inbox

Transcript

- I'm Shawn Thomas and this is Local Flight. Join me as we travel across the country to discover extraordinary bartenders and purveyors. We'll share their stories as they work together to create innovative cocktails using unique local ingredients. In this episode of Local Flight, we're bringing sweet and salty back to the bar for a taste of two New England traditions. Boston is a city rich in history and Oak Long Bar is no exception. Opened in 1912, the bar was originally a gentleman's club located in the Fairmont Copley Plaza. Updated in 2012, the revamped space now houses an 83 foot copper top bar where I'm meeting up with Lou Sabin. - So what can I do for you today? - Well I'm back in my hometown this is actually where I was born and raised. - Welcome back my friend, good to have you. - It feels good to be back this is a beautiful hotel. I imagine the name comes from how big this bar is because it's a long bar. - It's the longest copper bar in North America. - Really? - Built in 1912 same year the Titanic sunk. You see ceilings that have been here for over 100 years. We try to preserve a lot of that history here channel that through our cocktail programs. - Oh yep? - It's a mixture of modern and classic. Can't stand the past all the time gotta update it so we've got a lot of nice, new, bright, modern cocktails on there as well. - That's great man, is there a drink you'd like to make me to kinda showcase what you're doing here? - Yeah, I think so. What I'm gonna make for you today is a cocktail that's not only authentically Boston, it's authentically American. It's a play on the Moscow Mule. - [Lou] Okay. - Just a couple of slices of lemon, we're gonna muddle those a little bit, fresh juice always important, get a little bit of ice in there. - Crushed ice. - Yeah you got it. Some nice locally made ginger beer adds a nice sweet element to all the citrus that's in there. So this is a locally distilled New England spirit made with real blueberries add on the island of Nantucket. Garnish on there with a little bit of lime, here we go, so this drink is called Goodbye Blue Monday. - Goodbye Blue Monday. - So, I always recommend you stir it up a little bit before you drink it. - [Lou] Alright. - It's the alternate title of my favorite book Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut. - Sure. - What a lot of people don't know is that he actually lived in Cape Cod for a while. - Well, goodbye blue Monday. - Do it, do it to a brother. - Ya I could drink these all day. Would you say this is one of your more popular ones? - Yeah, I make a lot of these, y'know, kind of a seasonal drink, but right now we've got sun we had a long hard winter here in Boston so it's time to drink some light, ginger, citrusy drinks. - Delightful, alright so let me tell you a little bit about what I'm doing here - Okay - back in my hometown. I have certain connotations when it comes to authentic New England. - Okay. - And I was hoping you could help me a side of New England that maybe I haven't seen but that's still traditional classic New England and incorporate them in a drink so... - When you hear about Boston, you hear about Cape of Light, you hear about Nantucket, you hear about Martha's Vineyard a lot - Martha's Vineyard of course. Yep. - All that sort of stuff. Real hidden jewel a lot of people don't go to it, north shore got towns like Rockport, Manchester by the Sea, and Gloucester, Gloucester is actually the oldest seaport in America. - So you think it's a great place for us to go ingredient hunting? - Good start at least. - Yeah, then I say hit the road, we head up to Gloucester, - Okay - and we see what we can find up there. - You got it, Gloucester kit. - Gloucester kit. - Sure let's do it. - New England has a long history of candy making dating back to the colonial times. Just north of Boston, Nichols Candies in Gloucester, Massachusetts has been carrying on that tradition since 1932. We're meeting up with Barbara Nichols to learn more about their handmade confections. We're looking for some authentic New England style candies so we're hoping that maybe you could show us a few things. - Okay, so authentic New England candies. - Yeah, you do some of the production actually here in the store? - All of it's done here. - [Shawn] Amazing, wow. - This is a favorite. - [Lou] What's that one called? - This is a snowflake, - [Shawn] Snowflake? - And it's coconut. - [Shawn] Wanna try one of them? - [Lou] Yeah let's do it. - [Shawn] You like coconut? Mmm that's delicious. We're off to a good start here, Lou. - Right behind you are turtles. - Now what are turtles? I feel like I've heard of that. - It's caramel dropped on them a clump of nuts, - Yep. - And then rolled in chocolate. - I want all those things. - Yes they're delicious. - Well put it in the box. - Throw it in the box. - [Shawn] Alright, we'll put it in the box. - [Lou] Barbara, what's the craziest thing you've ever covered in chocolate? - Oh my goodness... - I don't know if she can tell us. - No, I don't think I better say. - I think you've got almost every possible thing to cover in chocolate covered in chocolate. - And now to Gloucester, salt water taffy. - [Shawn] The real deal. - The real deal. - [Lou] Is this one of your better sellers? - Yes, in the summer we can't keep it in stock. - I imagine. - And here we have fudge and penuche. - [Shawn] Penuche? - [Lou] Now how do you say that? - [Barbara] Penuche. - Now what goes into that? - [Barbara] Brown sugar, vanilla, and butter so the color depends on what kind of brown sugar you use. - You can smell the brown sugar before you even taste it. I love the texture. - That is delicious. - The texture is really great. - Very very soft. - If you cooked it longer you would have frosting. - You're full of fun facts, Barbara, I love that. I anticipated the salt water taffy but I'm really intrigued by this penuche. - [Shawn] That's gonna be the one you think you're gonna draw from? - [Lou] I think it's the leader in the clubhouse right now. - [Shawn] Alright. - [Barbara] Okay. - It's hard to resist all of Nichols hand made candies but we're going with penuche, the brown sugar will make a great base for the cocktail. Next stop, we're heading to the beach. Atlantic Salt Works is reviving the once prominent tradition of salt making on the north Atlantic coast. Their salt is special due to the all natural process involved in extracting it directly from the sea water they collect off the shores of eastern Massachusetts. We're meeting up with Heather and Rob to learn more about their process. So what are we gonna be doing today are we literally just... - We are literally walking into the water with five gallon buckets and getting sea water. Keep the buckets on the top, don't scoop down let the water just flow. Oh I'm wet, I'm wet. - [Shawn] Yeah same. Alright, I'm not gonna be afraid of the ocean. I don't think people appreciate the lengths it takes to make a good cocktail. And there you have it. - [Rob] Yep that's it put the lids on. - So all this is gonna make how much salt? - [Heather] So you're gonna get three or four ounces of salt out of a gallon of water. These are five gallon buckets so about a pound of salt. Here's where the magic happens. - [Shawn] Oh nice. [Heather] Welcome. - [Shawn] I'm excited. - [Lou] We've reached headquarters. - [Heather] Yes. Alright so now that we have our water. - Yes. - We need to turn that sea water into salt. - [Shawn] It makes sense. - Sea water starts between three and four percent salt we need to get it up above almost 30 percent. Turns into a brine. So we need to get it into that big tank right there. - [Shawn] That is a big tank. - I saw the turbines outside, are you guys eco-friendly here? - We are as eco-friendly as possible so it's nice to know that there's actually wind energy about a hundred yards away from us. - Nice - Paying respect to mother nature as she gives you your product. - Exactly, that's exactly right. - [Shawn] How much liquid can this guy hold? - [Heather] Over 500 gallons in there. - [Shawn] That's a lot. And what is this essentially doing is it like a centrifuge where it's like... - It's vacuum boiling. - [Shawn] Okay, so raising the temperature, drawing out all the air. - [Heather] To do it quicker and more efficiently. - [Shawn] Gotcha. - [Heather] And let's have Rob hook up the hoses so we can see what happens in the next room. You'll see on the top of the water some baby crystals forming. - Yep, and at this point this is actually considered a brine with it's consistency. - This is a brine it's very very salty. I dare ya. - Okay. - Oof. - Oh yeah that's a lot of salt. - [Heather] That's a lot of salt. Harvesting is pretty high tech, it's a strainer. Scooping a big scoop here, pulling it up, letting the water drain out, and we have a couple different kinds of salt in here, you can see that there's some very fine grains and down at the bottom you can see some bigger ones. So what we're gonna want to do is separate those. - [Shawn] Okay. - [Heather] We're gonna wash it and the baby stuff is gonna fall out and you're gonna see the difference in the salt immediately, and then, we're gonna let it dry. So you just harvested salt. - There it is, check that off the bucket list. - [Heather] There you go. Let's check out some dried salt. The final product. - [Shawn] Look at that that's amazing. - Take a taste what do you think. - Yeah let's do it. - [Heather] The difference between the table salt and sea salt is gonna be taste. Any commercially made salt is gonna have chemicals in it and it's gonna really mask the salt flavor. When you taste it, again it's an all natural product with nothing added, it's an incredible difference. - That's delicious. - There's like a nice crunch in there too. - Yeah. - Love the texture, this stuff is a must. We've gotta put it in there. - Alright great. - Can't wait to see what you do with it. Let me jar some up for ya. - Great thank you so much. - [Shawn] It's hard to get more local than salt pulled directly from the ocean and fresh penuche fudge made on site. Now it's time to see what Lou can do with these ingredients. Back at the bar, Lou and I head back down to the kitchen to melt the penuche fudge. - It's essentially just like sugar and milk so it will go into a nice little thick syrup here. - [Shawn] We'll make one syrup for the cocktail and another version for the topping. - You can see it's already changing color nicely there. You don't really have to fuss with it too much all you have to do is make sure it doesn't burn. Alright so we've got our penuche syrup here, make a little whip cream with this. - [Shawn] Okay. - Garnish go on top, pretty easy, throw that stuff in there. And we're gonna do a little bit of heavy cream. I'mma do six ounces here, so that's an old bartenders trick I learned, it's the hawthorne strainer we've got here. - [Shawn] Yeah. - Take off the string, throw that in there, the edge taste is quicker, and it makes a little bit of a quicker process. - Look at that. - Once you stop hearing that hawthrown shaker ring around in there that's a good sign that it's just about ready. - [Shawn] Looks good, looks finished. - What do you think? Looks good? - Yeah looks good, smells good. - We're gonna start our base spirit, ounce and a half, Grey Goose. Here we go. Do ounce and a quarter Irish cream. We're gonna do 3/4 an ounce of our penuche and sea salt syrup, and freshly brewed espresso. Add a nice little bit of bitterness in there, balance.. Go for a little bit of ice. So we're gonna do our classic oak room set up here. Bucket of ice on the side, got these nice little carafes here, and you pour it directly here, into the carafe. That goes into the cocktail glass here. Plenty to spare on the side my friend. - [Shawn] Would you look at that. - [Lou] Now we're gonna top it with some whipped cream. Little dollop on there. - Gonna have to double up on the crunches today, man. All the sweets we've been having. - And for the finish, just a couple of those nice big flakes right on top of the whipped cream. - Cheers my friend thank you much. - [Lou] Sure, enjoy. - [Shawn] Decadent. - Yeah. - My God, alright, so, I get the bitterness from the espresso, the whipped cream is actually a really nice touch, it helps kind of elongate the flavors. - And a just a little bit of balance from that salt just rounds out the flavor with a little bit of safety... - Yeah and it accentuates it. That's delicious. - [Lou] New England my friend. - That's definitely New England. - There we go. - Alright, so what do you say we name this cocktail? - Okay, - [Shawn] We've got some sea salt, the penuche, so it's sweet, - [Lou] Yep. - [Shawn] city of Gloucester, any ideas? - Cape Ann, that's all part of Cape Ann. - Okay. - I don't know do you think maybe you've had your first Cape Ann here? - [Shawn] I think I have, Cape Ann. - You're a south shore guy, I took you to north shore across enemy lines up there. - [Shawn] It's okay. - You were safe you survived the whole time, and you made a good drink out of it too. - It's a great drink, and I think I got a little extra here, pour that. - There we go. - And how about them Red Sox?