This week, we go drinking with one of Boston’s finest bartenders, Tenzin Samdo. The uber-creative gent runs the program at Tavern Road and is inspiring industry folks around the world with his original cocktail creations and positive attitude. His multicultural upbringing, a Tibetan refugee, born and raised in India, as well as strong interest in both food and the arts, shines through in each one of his drinks.
After working with Jody Adams, James Beard Award Winner, at Trade, Samdo took over the bar program at Tavern Road after the late, great Ryan Mcgrale. Always thoughtful and charming, this rockstar’s talent has made him one of Boston’s most sought after bar stars. It has also put him on the radar of many brands and is a star of loads of bartender competitions. You might know him for his incredibly visual cocktails and crazy garnish game which he showcases on his Instagram (we’ll get to that) but without further ado…
Drinking With Tenzin Samdo
State your name & title & where you work & where you live for the record.
Tenzin Samdo, Beverage Director of Tavern Road & Founder of Boston Mix Drink in Boston, Massachusetts.
How did you get started in the biz?
The day after 4th July, 16 years ago, an afternoon shift at a popular local restaurant where I was an oyster boy/barback, when many of my co-workers then called in sick. The restaurant was so busy and understaffed that my manager had me jump behind the bar to help. I loved it, the energy was incredible. Of course I’ve made more money in few hours of that afternoon shift than that it usually take me a month to make that kinda money. So I wanted to learn about everything to be a great bartender.
What is your current go-to drink order?
A couple of my awesome bartender friends in Boston, Sebastian Cana, and Bruno Mario, make a really good Michelada. I’m kinda basic.
Coffee or Tea?
Both. Coffee in the morning every day and tea in the afternoon. Barrington Coffee right across the street from Tavern Road, one of the best coffee out here, I’m a regular there. Elaichi tea( Indian Cardamom Tea ) with boiled milk, I know I’m complicated that’s why I make them myself.
What is your hangover remedy?
Momo soup ( Tibetan dumpling soup ) made with beef broth.
Favorite spot in Boston for late night good drinking food?
Moonshine 152 restaurant on Dorchester Avenue, Boston. Their dirty fried rice & award-winning fried chicken, I can eat them everyday.
Guilty pleasure / indulgent, no apologies necessary drink?
Michelada, yup, I mentioned it again. I’m lame. Hey, it’s a low ABV!
What is your very last sip death row drink?
Mezcal Negroni with a Sazerac chaser.
What bars in the world have blown your mind?
I have yet to visit many that are on my list. As of now, I love Three Dots & Dash. I like the fact that, that bar is in the middle of the city of Chicago but when you are in that bar you feel like you are far away on an island. And their service bar was incredible. I’m looking forward to visiting many more around the world that is on my list to go.
Favorite venue suggestions for:
- Taking out-of-towners for cocktails for an “Only in Boston” experience? – I love Yvonne’s, the bar is so beautiful and very rich in Boston cocktail history behind it and amazing talented bartenders behind that bar. I love each and every single one of them.
- A Classic Dive night? – Biddy Early’s
- Post-Shift Drink? – Outlook Kitchen and Bar at Envoy Hotel or Drink
- Serious R&D bars to get inspired? Amor y Amargo bar in NYC
What ingredients are you into right now for cocktails?
Lots of exotic rare teas, Saffron and Sandalwood.
Who is the best drinking buddy for a wild night out?
One of the best night out I had was with my amazing buddy, one of the most talented bartender out there the late Ryan Mcgrale and Raymond Tremblay. Ryan Mcgrale used to be beverage Director of Tavern Road and I’m so honored to continue his legacy. Raymond Tremblay is doing amazing right working for Diageo Luxury brands.
What’s the coolest thing about being a bartender?
I get companies to pay me to travel around the world and get to meet with amazing other talents. We love to share our ideas and knowledge on new trends in the business.
Any advice for aspiring young guns wanting to break into the industry?
Pay your due. There’s no shortcut to being great bartender and never stop learning.
What an honor to do what you love, and especially for people you admire so much everyday in this craft of Bartending. Last night, it was like living the dream. We @tavernroad had the pleasure of hosting dinner & cocktail pairing for the team @privateerrum & @smugglerscovesf.. We are very thankful and humbled for having us. Thank you, Thank you. Support like this makes us want to do better everyday. 📸 : @yec @prettyinstant caught me in the act of making Smuggler's cocktail infused with chocolate cigar #bostonmixdrink #igcocktail #bartender #craftcocktail #imbibegram #smugglerscove #privateerrum #drinklocal #visitboston #bostonma #bostonblogger #rum #rhum #makeitnice #cocktail #createboston #createboston2016
Spill it …. shameless what are you working on right now?
Working on recreating some of the most popular colorful 90’s cocktails using all natural ingredients such as fruits, herbs, honey, agave, and vegetables.
Social Call – where can Thirsty readers keep up with you and your bar adventures on social media?