As the first in Barbara Lynch’s empire of Boston restaurants, as well as one of BevSpot’s earliest clients, No. 9 Park holds a special place in our hearts. Nestled in a townhouse on Beacon Hill, its intimate yet elegant dining setting is the perfect blend of classic, dinner party-esque with a touch of modern and trendy.
With an extensive wine program meticulously paired with chef’s tasting courses, the innovative cocktails might be overlooked. But behind those cocktails is Ryan Lotz, a master in the art of mixology—encompassing both an incredible passion and talent for the cocktails he creates, and the fine dining industry as a whole.
I sat down at No. 9’s bar to watch Lotz at work making some of his favorite concoctions and chatting about his journey in the bartending world, and advice for aspiring mixologists.
“You talk to any chef and they’ll say, ‘make an omelette,’ you talk to any bartender and they’ll say ‘make a daiquiri.’”
Lotz tells me his favorite cocktail both to drink and to make is the simple and classic Daiquiri, which he describes as the omelette of cocktails for its delicate nature in balancing the right ingredients. The classic cocktail is one that Lotz never tires of:
“It’s also a drink that has a horrible reputation as being a frozen, overly sweet, sugary drink served at a pool, but that is not the origin of this cocktail. This is the real version:”
A simple necessity for Lotz is his bar spoon:
“Most people don’t have this at home, and you’re not going to have great success stirring a cocktail with a spoon you’d eat cereal with. A long thin spoon moves much more easily in a glass so it produces a smoother cocktail than something that’s jostling around and moving the ice. That’s something we talk about when stirring cocktails—how the ice and spoon move in the cocktail. You want to move those things without integrating any air, or without making any noise. It should be virtually silent when stirring a drink. So the tool you need for this is a bar spoon.”
However, Lotz concludes with one at-home hack if you’re missing a bar spoon: a chopstick.
“I just love the people that sit at this bar. For a lot of us, we’re in it for that— for the hospitality. If we just wanted to make drinks, we’d find a different job, and then we’d make drinks at home. We have such great regulars at this restaurant, and they have such great stories. I’ve got people who have been sitting at bars of mine for years.”
As with many personal journeys, Lotz’ is one of fortunate accidents. Always a food lover, Ryan was raised on the values of home-cooked family meals. He worked at a Staten Island catering hall through most of high school, and moved to Boston for school, originally pursuing a degree in Art History and Business Administration.
Not loving the career path he was on, and needing some extra money, he tried out a couple server jobs. One restaurant eventually needed a bartender, so “they stuck me back there and taught me how to bartend.”
After graduating from BU, he took on more and more responsibilities and became the Bar Manager.
Shortly after that, Lotz’ big break came when Boston’s infamous Jackson Cannon approached him in assembling a crew to open The Hawthorne: “He took a liking to the cut of my jib, I suppose, and asked me to come bartend for him.” Lotz opened The Hawthorne with Cannon, “I met a lot of great people and learned a ton.”
Not long after opening The Hawthorne, Lotz had a conversation with the Bar Manager at No. 9 Park.
“I missed the true dining experience of having a full wine list and being able to serve someone a meal. That was why I got into the industry in the first place.”
Though he never expected to become the Bar Manager when he started at No. 9, the position opened up and he happily took on the role, “my bar team here is top notch.”
Lotz’ product portfolio and cocktail menu stem from many different influences, including people who approach him with products for him to taste, as well as Lotz himself staying on top of what’s going on around town. He’s also extremely collaborative with his staff at No. 9.
“All of my bartenders know that I want them to bring ideas or products that they want on the bar to me. We meet every 6 weeks to 2 months to test cocktail recipes and taste new products. We’re a team and I like them to be involved as much as possible…they’re making a lot of cocktails and always have ideas, so the menu is really just me corralling those ideas into a theme….the menu’s fun, the menu’s the easy part.”
“We try to keep it fresh and not recycle cocktails that we’ve used before.The list is moving to be more and more proprietary rather that what it used to be—just classics.”
“One of the skills that a lot of people overlook as a bartender is awareness, keeping your eyes open, keeping your ears open. Not only behind the bar but in life. If you want to make it in this industry, you need to build life experience. It’s a tough industry— you’re managing product, you’re managing people, you’re managing guests— that’s a tall order. You build that skill set by being aware of everything that’s going on around you and taking that all in and processing it.”
“Be self-aware. Opportunities in this industry present themselves even when you don’t realize they’re presenting themselves, there’s something to learn from everybody.”
“Seriously, inventory is like a breeze now. It used to be the most dreaded part of my job by a landslide. It still is not my favorite part of the job, but it’s gone from a 15-20 hour process to a 3-5 hour process. It’s pretty crazy.”
After a great compliment for BevSpot, and tasting many delicious cocktails, I’d call this a successful day spent with Ryan Lotz at No. 9 Park.
Visit our Craft page for more on Ryan’s favorite cocktails!