Beginning in the kitchen at a young age and eventually finding her place behind the bar, Ezra Star has worked in the restaurant and hospitality industry for many years. She spent years studying biochemistry and Public Health, but the drive to understand people brought Ezra from the lab to the world of hospitality.
In addition to overseeing the beverage program at Drink in Boston (2013 Spirited Awards “World’s Best Bar”), Ezra has consulted on numerous bar designs/build-outs, and bar training programs. She has also given presentations at cocktail conferences and has been featured in Food and Wine, Playboy, and numerous spirit journals.
In 2015, Ezra was recognized as a StarChefs Rising Star and named one of Food and Wine’s “Best New Mixologists.” And nominated for American Bartender of the Year at Tales of the Cocktail in 2017. As if all of those accolades are not already impressive, Ezra is an all-around cool human being and recently given her time to talk about topics on women in leadership. Without further ado, let’s go drinking with Ezra Star.
Drinking with Ezra Star
Let’s start by telling us about the beverage program at Drink.
The beverage program at Drink is just about ten years old now. The concept is simple: we want to eliminate any obstacle between the bartender and the guest. We do this by having no drink menu, no back bar, and ingredients specifically sourced to engage the guest and bartenders in conversation.
Anything special and unique to Drink that a first timer needs to order?
The first thing that any first timer to Drink needs to know is that despite our size, we are a pretty small bar. Our capacity is 100 people, but we only have a few seats, so we control the flow of the room in order to ensure our bartenders can take care of every guest as best they can. It takes our bartenders about 2 years to go through our training program. Everyone starts at the bottom and then works their way up, regardless of years of experience. We also have no menu.
We make our drinks for the people sitting on the other side of the bar. Each cocktail is crafted for our guest. Many of our drinks are based on classic cocktails (which we use as a language to communicate flavors), but we also have many modern classics and originals as well. Many drinks may not have a name, because we have crafted it entirely to the person in front of us.
How did you get started in the biz?
Like many bartenders, I started in this industry to pay my bills. I needed a job that would pay well, that would let me meet new people, and something that would allow me to work off hours so I could go to school. This was about 17 years ago. I have been behind the bar ever since and have also worked every job in a restaurant. I went to school to learn about science and medicine, but the life of a lab rat did not work well for me. I wanted to work with people, and I started to realize that the job I was doing when I wasn’t in school made me happier than my work in the lab.
What is your current go-to drink order?
My current go-to boozy drink is a Cognac Sazerac. It is such a classic. I often use it to judge whether I can proceed ordering another drink at the bar or if I should switch to wine.
Do you drink coffee or tea?
I love coffee, but only really drink it after dinner. Huge fan of tea, especially Matcha, which I have cold every day at Barrington Coffee Roasting Company next door to Drink.
Tell us about your first boozy experience?
My mother caught me trying to steal a beer once. She told me I couldn’t have it, but I wasn’t deterred. I went to a store and bought a pineapple and some bread yeast and made a pineapple beer. My friend and I drank that together. It tasted horrible but it did the trick. This was the first time I remember getting drunk.
What is your hangover remedy?
Pho. A big bowl, some Coca-Cola, and French cider.
If you are vacation day drinking, what’s your not so guilty pleasure poison?
Mojitos. Lots of mojitos.
What is your very last sip death row drink to toast farewell?
Unaged Calvados Mojito, preferably on the beach.
If you could have drinks with anyone dead, alive or fictional, who would it be?
Who is the best industry drinking buddy for a wild night?
Pam Wiznitzer or Dev Johnson are tied as some of my favorite industry drinking buddies. It’s just really hard not to get into trouble with these two.
What’s your theme song behind the stick?
“This Must be the Place” by the Talking Heads.
How many times a year do you change your menu? What is currently your most popular drink?
Because our menu is not printed, our menu is changed always, never and often. We always have new things we are playing around with, we never announce what these things may be, and we are always looking for something new to keep us going. The most popular drink is always and probably will always be, the Old Fashioned. We make a very good one.
Ezra’s Boston Hospitality Picks:
Taking out-of-towners for the quintessential “Only in Boston” experience?
For this one have to say Drink, other than that though, Eastern Standard is always on that list as well.
Romantic “let’s get it on” date night?
Les Seblons is one of my favorite date night places. Multiple floors to hide in, great wine, amazing cocktails, just what you need to impress your date.
A Classic Dive Bar?
Super Crafty Cocktails?
The Baldwin, slightly outside of the city but their drinks are great.
Late Night Spot for (um, Drunk) Eats and Post-Shift?
Lonestar taco bar in Cambridge. Tacos, friends, and shots. All you need late night.
Classic New England Seafood?
Row 34. One of the best seafood places we have in Boston/New England (seriously).
Shameless Plug Time – what’s going on in your drinks world to share with thirsty readers?
There are so many great bars opening up in Boston. Old names coming back and opening cool things, pushing the envelope. It’s going to be great. I think Boston gets overlooked as a food and beverage scene, but seriously, for the size of the city, we have more going on than many places in the US.
Get Social & Follow Ezra:
Insta: @softestbullet Twitter: @softestluna FB: @softestbullet
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