Baldwin & Sons Trading Co., Vol. 2
By now we’ve probably made our admiration of Baldwin & Sons Trading Company pretty clear (here, here, here, and here). While it certainly has competition (Drink and Waypoint, for instance), we think that this quirky Chinese restaurant in the unassuming Boston suburb of Woburn creates the best cocktail experience within 20 miles of Fenway Park. Our only complaint is that we’d run through their menu. So, we were eagerly awaiting the release of volume 2. Our schedule when we visited Boston earlier in the summer didn’t give us a chance to try it out; when we were up on Massachusetts’ North Shore a couple of weeks ago (conveniently about the same distance from Woburn as the city), we made sure not to miss it again.
What We Ordered
Paper Tigers: plantation rum, soy milk, blossom honey, green apple, kaffir
Jack Sparrow: rum, buttered popcorn, salted Bourbon, whole egg, angostura bitters
Treaty of Paris: Bourbon, Cognac, Licor 43, sherry, angostura bitters
Night’s Watch: Bourbon, bonded applejack, Punt e Mes, Amaro Cynar, maraschino liqueur, mole bitters
What We Thought
One thing that struck us this time around is how utterly trustworthy Baldwin is with crazy ingredients. Having experienced what it does to a latte, we were a bit skeptical of soy milk in a cocktail. But in Baldwin’s hands, it created a soft, silky texture that didn’t overwhelm the other ingredients in Paper Tigers. And we have no idea what exactly the ‘buttered popcorn’ in Jack Sparrow consisted of, but we do know that it tasted just like buttered popcorn and also worked perfectly as a cocktail ingredient.
Baldwin is also almost peerless in theatrical presentation (in our experience, barmini contends or maybe beats them). We didn’t happen to order any of these drinks ourselves, but we saw several with various scented dry ice vapor making their way to other drinks. Even without exotic fogs, Baldwin makes their drinks beautiful and their presentation interesting. Jack Sparrow’s bitters, for instance, were delivered as a swirl of red and blue fern shapes dropped delicately on its foam. In a savvy move, the most elaborate–and most effective–presentation was saved for the simplest of the drinks on the menu.
Encyclopedia Brown is their name for the drink of the night. If you order the Encyclopedia Brown, you’re served a book. When you open the book, you find it’s been hollowed out and filled with a chilled flask, a wax-stamped envelope, and an old fashioned glass. Not a bad way at all to give a plain brown drink in an old fashioned glass some drama. This plain brown drink, called the Night’s Watch (a couple of the drinks had Game of Thrones names), also happened to be our favorite drink of the night. It was a stiff one, but rich, flavorful, and complex.
If You Go
Make reservations ahead of time, and make them at Baldwin & Sons Trading Company. Otherwise, you’ll find yourselves in the Baldwin Bar downstairs. It’s a distinct menu, with what they call more ‘approachable drinks.’ It’s a solid place to get a drink, but not quite the same experience as upstairs.
Night’s Watch Cocktail Recipe
A sad discovery about volume 2 is that Baldwin no longer publishes the exact recipe to all of the drinks on their menu. Luckily for us, that wax-stamped envelope in the hollowed-out Encyclopedia Brown did, in fact, contain the recipe for Night’s Watch. Consider yourself in on the secret.
- 1 oz Bourbon whiskey–they used Knob Creek
- 1 oz bonded applejack
- 3/4 oz Punt e Mes–we used Mancino’s bitter red vermouth instead
- 1/2 oz Amaro Cynar
- 1/4 oz maraschino liqueur
- 2 dashes mole bitters
- Add all ingredients to a mixing glass.
- Fill with ice to the level of the liquid.
- Stir until the ice is noticeably melted.
- Strain into an old fashioned hip flask.
- Hollow out a large book.
- Place the flask and an old fashioned glass into the hollowed out book.