The Honey Trap at Boot & Shoe Service
Snagged by a compromising cocktail.
The disarming Honey Trap.
This story from our October issue will be available online Oct. 22. Copies of our print issue are available by calling 510-238-9101.
For as busy as they’ve been since opening in 2010—with the back bar area as bustling as the restaurant—Boot & Shoe Service has a fairly small bartending staff: bar manager Hortensia Mitura, four other bartenders, and one bar back. Just as all hands are needed when it comes to serving the thirsty throngs, all heads are required to populate the Boot’s weekly cocktail menus.
“Everyone behind the bar here has a really good palate,” says Mitura, so everyone who has mixed a drink there has had a chance to create one for the menu. Cocktails devised by the designer of the program at the Boot’s older sister, Pizzaiolo, still occasionally appear on the drink schedule; and as I sat at the bar researching this article, Liam Gilmore was experimenting with some fresh melon juice left for them that day by dessert chef Jenny Raven. Gilmore was mixing the juice with lemon and Amaro Montenegro for the start of a sweet refresher.
Some experiments flop, of course—there’s a drink on the computer register called the Highlander whose ingredients and originator are lost to the vapors of time—but the successes come often, built on the best of spirits and colored with garden herbs and Mitura’s house-made syrups and tonics. Ginger drinks vibrate with the fresh burn of the Boot’s ginger syrup, and a daiquiri on the menu this summer is tropical simplicity in a coupe glass—rum, sugar, and lime brightened by the singular floral citrus of muddled green coriander. And lightweight amaro concoctions pair well with Boot & Shoe’s unique take on Italian cuisine.
The staff does admit to having some trouble naming its creations: They have a tendency toward titles inspired by David Lynch and Spaghetti Westerns, but even these take a while. There’s a drink in the repertoire called Gimme Six Months, after the response of a bartender at sister/neighbor restaurant Penrose when he was asked to help them name it. Though I’m not sure how long it took Mitura and bartender Hana Hayashi to christen October’s cocktail of the month, I do know that they called it correctly. The Free Dictionary defines a “honey trap” as “a scheme in which a victim is lured into a compromising sexual situation to provide an opportunity for blackmail.” And so the Boot’s Honey Trap cocktail—a coy blend of rye and rum sweetened by honey, made sensual by muddled sage, and hiding a cynical astringent kick delivered by Italian vermouth—could indeed bend one’s principles to its own desired shape.
1 ounce Smith & Cross Jamaican Navy Strength Rum
1 ounce Redemption Rye
1/2 ounce Cocchi Vermouth di Torino
Bar spoon of honey, diluted with water
3 to 4 sage leaves
Muddle honey and sage. Add remaining ingredients, then add ice and stir. Strain into coupe cocktail glass and garnish with sage leaf.