From her start in the South End to her current gig in the Seaport, bartender Alex LaRochelle has seen the city and its cocktail scene change plenty since she started in the industry. Here, she shares some tips for a well stocked at-home bar, her game plan for a fabulous day off and her thoughts on sidecars vs. sex on the beaches.
1. Where do you work now? What’s your position? Where else have you worked in the last five years?
I am a bartender at Committee, I was on the opening team and have been there for the past four years. I started off behind the bar at Delux Cafe and then moved to Back Bay Social Club for a few years.
2. Briefly, how did you get involved in restaurants (and, specifically, bartending)? What draws you to this line of work?
Both of my sisters are bartenders in the city. When I was in college, my sister Jennifer, hooked me up with a few nights serving at Delux. One slow night she decided I was going to learn how to make cocktails and the rest is history. I love entertaining guests, being able to utilize my creativity and the ever growing knowledge that comes with being a bartender.
3. What’s your favorite drink to make (or wine or beer to pour)? Least favorite?
I love making sidecars. It’s my favorite classic cocktail and one of the first cocktails I learned how to make. I find that most of my guests have never had one before so I love to introduce people to them. I hate, hate, hate making sex on the beaches but that mostly comes from never being able to locate the bottle of peach Schnapps behind the bar.
4. How do you feel about the mixology movement? Does that term appeal to you, not appeal to you? What do you think it means to be involved in the bartender culture, if you agree that there is one?
The mixology movement has helped reintroduce a lot of forgotten cocktails, has pushed for the usage of interesting ingredients and is pushing the boundaries on the presentation of cocktails, so I am all for it. There is an air of pretentiousness surrounding the word “mixology” but at the same time it has helped expand the cocktail scene. As simple as this is, no one was asking for cocktails with cucumbers in it before the mixology movement.There is definitely a sense of camaraderie that comes from working in the food and beverage industry, particularly with bartenders. Tales of the Cocktail is the perfect example of that. It’s week long convention where bartenders from all over can learn about new products, meet other bartenders and celebrate the craft.
5. On your days off, what kind of places do you frequent? A lot of industry folk are happier with a Miller High Life and a Fernet than composed cocktails or craft beer. You?
Well, the first thing I do on my day off is get my nails done. My hands deserve a treat after being covered in citrus and water all weekend. Once that is out of the way, I love going to the Friendly Toast and getting a really late brunch. I also love Little Donkey, Frenchie, Eastern Standard, Bartaco and Audubon. The list is always growing because I love trying new places. But when it comes to my drink of choice, I almost always go for a glass of sparkling wine.
6. What do you always keep stocked at home? Are there different things you like to drink or to make for special occasions?
My home bar will always have an amaro (or two). Other than that I like to make sure I have at least one nice bottle of every spirit, that way I am prepared for whoever comes over. When it comes to special occasions, I love to make a batch of mulled wine or margaritas for my family – something that everyone can enjoy.
7. Are you excited about one spirit in particular? Is there something really overrated or underrated, in your opinion?
I really love working with rum. There can be a lot of complexity and flavors in rums that most people just overlook. Tiki drinks tend to mask and overshadow that, so I love using rum as a base in a spirit forward cocktail to be able to really appreciate the spirit.
8. What’s something you wish the average guest knew about your job, not service-wise, but related to the craft of bartending. (In other words, apart from common courtesy and being a good guest, what’s something you think everybody should know about bartending?)
Most bartenders are more than happy to help you pick a drink out. Don’t be afraid to talk to us and tell us what you like. We are in the business to make people happy, we don’t want to serve you something you aren’t crazy about. If you don’t know what something is, please, ask us! Most of us take time aside to educate ourselves so we can help as many guests as needed.