One Fund, Three Pigs, & 1 Scary Night

19 Apr

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Andrea Novak, Bar Manager Ryan McGrale, Bruno Prado, and John Henderson

There’s nothing I can add to help convey how tragic this week’s events in Boston were, nor do I care to relive them. One thing that is worth further reflection is how the Boston community rallied together, presenting a strong and proud face to the world.

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Chef Ian scoops out pig brains for happy guests

Not enough can be said about the great professionalism of the city’s law enforcement and emergency first responders. Neighbors, friends, and strangers provided material as well as emotional support to those in need. And to be honest, most of us were in need of emotional support.

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Andrew Bosquet of High and Mighty Brew keeps everyone’s red cups full

Even though I have only lived in Boston since August, I’ve grown to love this peculiar city. While I love my classmates who are recent transplants from around the world, when shit hits the fan, I always seem to surround myself with cocktail and restaurant friends.

Last Thursday evening, I was exhausted – stress and sorrow can really wear a man down. However, I was so impressed that instant hit restaurant Tavern Road decided to host a fundraiser for The One Fund benefiting Boston Marathon victims, I mustered up the energy to cross the river to Boston.

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Birthday boy Chef Sean happily shares cookies with full patrons, and here with Manager Graciele Maiden

I made the trek because it is important to be around family during trying times. When I looked at the Facebook event, I longed to see the many familiar faces. For those I didn’t recognize, the list appeared to be industry folks, and anyone willing to attend an 11 pm pig roast and drink Fernet cocktails for charity is someone I wanted to be around that night.

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Thanks piggy – I’m a stress eater

Which brings me to my second reason for going. The $20 door donation got you unlimited access to three roasted pigs. Brian Wang greeted friend Maureen Hautaniemi of Lush Life with the juicy tip that pork cheeks was the cut to get. When I asked Chef Ian if he had any pork cheeks left, he looked around, shrugged, and said, “As long as you don’t mind fingers in your food.” He then proceeded to violently rip off the cheeks with his fingers, scraping up every tasty morsel. He then ripped off the snout, tossed it on my plate, and said, “Here, suck on this snout.” A lucky guest after me scored the brains. Now that’s hospitality.

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Andrea Novak, Bar Manager Ryan McGrale, Bruno Prado, and John Henderson

Between money collected at the door and $5 drinks courtesy of Fernet Branca, High & Mighty, Dickel Rye, Jim Beam, and 90+ Cellars, the event raised over $7,000 for Boston Marathon victims.

Sadly, the tragic story continued to unfold during the fundraiser. After friends Drew Starr, his fiancee Rachel, Maureen, and TJ Connelly all said goodbye, I decided to head to the bar and close my tab. There was something unsettling about seeing TJ, in many ways the heart, or at least the beard, of the Boston cocktail community look shaken and a little lost. I was ready to get home to Harvard Square.

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Dan Lynch of the Hawthorne gets the dance party started

As I was waiting to close out, my phone went berserk. I got text after text, from new friends, loved ones, and several from my LA cocktail family. The first one read: “Stay inside. Something is happening in Harvard. There are talks about grenades. Don’t come back. Tell everyone.” I was startled, but I looked around at the people around me, and felt grateful. I knew I was better off here than alone in my Harvard Sq. apartment.

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Nothing goes to waste

With bartender Jason Cool of Citizen, I was able to alternate between expressing my anxiety and distracting myself with talk of trivial things like the under-appreciation of blue cocktails (he’s going to hate me for calling that trivial). I got to admire Nicole Lebedevitch of The Hawthorne’s fabulous new look, short hair just in time for Spring. I got to enviously watch an especially generous Dan Lynch, also bartender at The Hawthorne, dance the night away. I was moved by how Becca Jane and Andrew Bosquet of High and Mighty Brew were so happy to be able to contribute to the event, and joyously joined in a rendition of “Sweet Caroline” with bartender Steve Schnelwar.

Even John Gertsen stopped by for a nightcap after closing cocktail sanctuary Drink across the street. I also got to admire Tavern Road’s great service despite the crowds, and the hustle of the talented bartenders. I’m not at liberty to say much, but I must admit that bar manager Ryan McGrale has better intelligence contacts than anyone I know, and I go to a government school.

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Ezra & Jason Cool of Citizen Public House sharing his love of blue cocktails

By 2 am, I had little choice but find my way home. Eventually I found a cab driver to take me home, but unfortunately he tried to drop me off at MIT instead of my apartment. As I passed countless police cars and a couple crime scenes, I couldn’t help but feel a little disquieted. However, as I hid safely under the covers, and listened to the endless parade of police sirens (which I must admit did make me oddly homesick for LA), I felt grateful that I experienced this tragic evening with a generous and loving group of people.

Tavern Road
343 Congress St
Boston, MA 02210

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