Shift Drinks – Will Isaza’s Trinidad Time Out

will isaza nautical gin shift drink
Melissa Ostrow

At the end of a grueling day, any industry pro could use a time out—at Tiger Mama, the Fenway’s resident Southeast Asian eatery and Tiki bar, bartender Will Isaza crafted the TTO (that’s Trinidad Time Out) for a quick (and bitter) break. Inspired by his friends in the kitchen, he shakes up a luscious shooter replete with Angostura that highlights the herbal, citrus flavors of Nautical Gin. Here he breaks down the recipe and why chefs are the most fun to serve for this “down the hatch” tradition.


I’ve served more shift drinks than I’ve had honestly. It changes a little depending on what sort of restaurant employee. The most fun people to serve shift drinks to happen to be chefs because they usually drink the most harsh or obscure things you would ever think of. Servers, they’ll hang out and have a beer or a glass of wine, maybe even a cocktail, and have a good time. Bartenders, it varies.

Funny story, I used to work with a chef who for his shift drink would drink pink gin, which is literally just gin and bitters served warm in a glass. You order two ounces of gin and get it doused with bitters and you shoot it. So, you have to really love gin to enjoy that. That was the idea behind my shift drink—I figured I’d tie it back to somebody I’d worked with who loved gin.

There’s a drink called the Trinidad Sour as well that is very bitters-heavy. It’s traditionally rye and orgeat-based. Nautical – since it has the lemongrass and the mint – is very reminiscent of those Tiki-esque flavors. I tailored the original (and the pink gin) to Nautical itself.

Nautical Gin is definitely a really great mixing gin. There’s a lot of cool citrus notes in there. I got a little bit of a green herb thing, too, and some cocoa qualities. At Tiger Mama, there’s a lot of those flavors lingering around because of the Southeast Asian vibe.

I’m calling my drink the Trinidad Time Out. I have key lime instead of regular lime because it’s a little bit more acidic. It’s a super bitter shooter—there’s nothing to kind of transition you from the gin to the bitters so the little bit of salt helps with that first punch of bitters that you get from there being a half ounce of Angostura in there, which is a whole lot of bitters for one cocktail.

For some reason the combination of orgeat and that much bitters creates this really super thick head when you’re shaking it. It’s exactly how it looks: super velvety and with a couple layers to it.

In general, for me, a shift drink has always been perceived as something that you’re drinking really quickly because it’s been a long night and you’re just exhausted. So that’s why I created some sort of shooter as opposed to a full-blown cocktail.

tigermama-42Trinidad Time Out

1 ounce Nautical Gin
0.5 ounce orgeat
0.5 ounce Angostura bitters
0.5 ounce key lime juice
pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients in a shaker. Strain, serve and shoot.

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