Naomi Levy isn’t just the bar manager at Eastern Standard. She’s an artist and her mediums are liquors, syrups and, more recently, fresh fruits and vegetables. Since her move to Eastern Standard she has brought a diversity of drinks and a stronger culinary sensibility to the menu.
This past spring, Levy won a national cocktail competition which took her to Moscow to represent the U.S. in the USBG Legacy Cocktail Showcase. Her winning drink, the Guayaba Arabica, merges Latin American and Middle Eastern flavors with guava, coffee and cilantro. The drink is now featured at Eastern Standard and a portion of its proceeds go towards supporting Noonan Scholars, a group that works with disadvantaged high school students.
Levy mixes up the menu at Eastern Standard every one to three months to accommodate seasonal changes. This quick turnover rate gives her lots of room for creativity. For fall she says sherry has become very popular, and lower proof cocktails are making a comeback. She also anticipates the return of shrubs, or “drinking vinegars,” used to preserve the fruits of summer into the cooler months.
Quality ingredients are Levy’s passion. “We are trying as much as possible to source as many of our fresh ingredients as we can from local farms,” she says. This farm-to-table approach to cocktail-making mirrors that of Eastern Standard’s kitchen. Levy works closely with chef Matt Garland to plan drinks and dishes that work in harmony. “I tend to be inspired by the food I eat,” says Levy, “When I try a cool new dish I’m always thinking ‘how can I turn this into a cocktail?’”
The Eastern Standard drink to try right now is The Phoenix, an egg white cocktail topped with lemon ash that is a unique and toasty twist on a classic sour. After that head to Alden & Harlow in Harvard Square where the bar manager, Seth Freidus, uses homemade syrups and tinctures in his creations. Round off your night by trying one of those trendy sherry drinks at Straight Law in Brookline.
Despite her growing acclaim in the Boston area, Levy is quite happy with her position at Eastern Standard. She heralds the Kenmore Square bar as one of the most unique in the city. “There are not many places where you get to serve beers to Red Sox fans, talk ‘cool wine’ with an out-of-towner, mix up something special for a cocktail aficionado and pour a shot of fernet for your restaurant industry friends—all at the same time.”