Bars, Serves /

Engine Room, Mystic

“So what’s the craziest thing you’ve heard behind the bar?” we ask.

“White trash baptism,” Torin and Nick answer in unison, without missing a beat.

We want to ask more, but we have to try this drink first. We’re at the Engine Room in Mystic, Connecticut, a town once made famous for its pizza but now boasts some of the best drinks in the state. The space is vast, rustic, and high-ceilinged–a mix of wood, iron, and dark leather. We’re here early on a Monday, the day after the town’s yearly parade, and we’re impressed our hosts are not only here, but energetic. Someone has already placed freshly cut flowers in mason jars, another has already started to cook in the kitchen, and Torin Quinn, in a nicely pressed blue shirt, has his bar set up as if service has already started. There is no hint that this place, just hours before, had been a final stop in the town’s liquor-fueled celebrations.

Torin gets right to work, smiling as he shuffles through the many intriguing ingredients he has laid out.

“My Dad is a big spirit collector, so I guess I grew up around alcohol,” he says, grabbing the Brockmans, then the nigori sake, then the blueberry liqueur. “It’s definitely something I’ve always wanted to do since I was a kid.”

Torin’s master plan includes law school—“eventually”—but in the meantime, his passion is the bar.

“I love the social aspect, the encounters you get behind the bar. Everyone has a backstory and some of them are pretty awesome if you just take the time to listen.”

He adds yuzu juice, crème de violette, and finally, a spoonful of house-made blueberry compote. Our interest is piqued.

He ices, he shakes, he fine strains into a coupe. The drink is beautiful–bluish purple, creamy, floral, bright. The yuzu is a nice touch.

“I wanted to take a cult classic but change the dynamic by playing up the blueberry aspect of Brockmans,” Torin says, spooning a jammy blueberry out of a jar to serve as the garnish. It gently sinks to the bottom of the glass, bringing to mind an Aviation, the classic cocktail featuring crème de violette and a simple cherry garnish. But this is an Aviation by way of Japan. And Mystic, Connecticut.

Torin Quinn garnished his Brockmans cocktail at Engine Room

“Yuzu My Boy Blue”, which he assures us is its working title (we hope it sticks), is delicious. The layers of yuzu, wild berries, and melon play off each other so well. The unfiltered sake gives it body, the crème de violette gives it perfume. The Brockmans ties it all together.

“So, what’s a ‘white trash baptism?’” we ask, now that the drink is half full.

Torin laughs. “Well, it was a busy Sunday and a guy wandered in and ordered a beer. The bartender thought he had had too many so he refused to serve him. So the guy walked over to the other bartender (who didn’t realise how drunk he was) and the bartender handed him the beer. The drunk guy took a sip and immediately sneezed the beer right out of his nose and all over the second bartender. This is when the first bartender lets the second bartender know that he had refused the guy service. From that day on, we’ve called that a ‘white trash baptism.’”

Nick, the bar manager sitting a few seats away, can’t help but chuckle at the memory. It’s not typically the type of thing Engine Room is known for, but it’s a good story nonetheless.

Yuzu My Boy Blue

By Torin Quinn

  • 1.5 oz/45 ml Brockmans Gin
  • 1 oz/30 ml nigori (unfiltered) sake
  • .75 oz/25 ml Poli Mirtillo blueberry liqueur
  • .75 oz/25 ml yuzu juice
  • .25/8 ml oz simple syrup
  • .25/8 ml oz Crème de Violette
  • Barspoon blueberry compote

Method

Shake vigourously, double strain into a chilled coupe glass.

Garnish with a jammy blueberry.

Sip.

 

If you don’t feel like making this at home, Head to Engine Room and ask for Torin, he’ll make it for you with a big smile on his face. But if you do wish to make it at home, we think it will pair nicely with this Dark Berry Gin Tart