Union Square has quickly become a major food hub in Somerville, with several excellent bars and restaurants (Journeyman, The Independent, Casa B, Backbar, Bloc 11 and Sherman Cafe, to name a few), a cookbook (Nibble) focused on the area’s food culture and Kitchen Inc., a shared culinary incubator.
Now the square is also home to Booze Époque, a boutique cocktail company founded by Meaghan Sinclair and Harmony Dawn last spring. The business is the newest addition to Kitchen Inc., which Union Square Donuts, City Chicks/Homemade Modern, Culinary Cruisers, Cuisine en Locale and Black Magic Coffee already call home.
“We needed a dedicated space,” Sinclair said of ending up at Kitchen Inc. after meeting Cuisine en Locale’s JJ Gonson last summer and bartending an event for her on Martha’s Vineyard. Sinclair added that being in the kitchen has “changed the game for us.”
Dawn and Sinclair (pictured above) originally met in the 1990s in Harvard Square but didn’t grow close until the mid-2000s when they bartended for 300 people at Burning Man, an annual art event and temporary community in Nevada.
They used alcohol they had brought into the event and combined it with fresh fruit and other materials supplied by fellow Burning Man attendees to create delicious drinks. After realizing how well they worked together, Sinclair and Dawn decided to start their own company making very special cocktails as well as many of the ingredients they use in the beverages.
It’s clear that the partnership between Sinclair and Dawn is a natural one by the way the women laugh easily together and finish each other’s sentences. They seem to be having a tremendous amount of fun, despite the fact that they are technically working when we talk. Like the ingredients in their cocktails, they highlight and complement each other perfectly.
One of Booze Époque’s latest creations draws heavily on ingredients found right in the area. Dubbed the Camberville Cream Float, it contains Slumbrew Porter Square Porter as well as Toscanini’s Burnt Caramel Ice Cream.
“Toscanini’s really inspires me in general. They really think outside the box and don’t shy away from flavor,” Sinclair said.
Booze Époque draws inspiration from many places, like food (they’ve added curry to drinks!), music, the changing seasons and fresh produce.
In addition to creating original drinks or twists on traditional beverages, Sinclair and Dawn handmake many of the ingredients they use in their cocktails. I was lucky enough to try several of their simple syrups, shrubs and garnishes (as well as their incredible homemade grenadine). After tasting them all, I can truly say these women are creating something special, with rich and sometimes surprising flavors that are truly unique.
“We’re complementary. One might think of something that the other wouldn’t. We both like to use fresh ingredients. And we both like to eat,” Sinclair said, throwing them both into the easy laughter that marked our time together.
Sinclair and Dawn have also been teaching classes at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education and plan to do more of that in the future on top of the bartending, drink creation and kitchen experimenting that already fills their days.
When asked about their favorite drinks, Dawn said her go-to is a rye Manhattan, while Sinclair said an old fashioned is her beverage of choice.
They also both love homemade spicy margaritas and something called Ti’Punch, which is popular in Martinque and Haiti. The Ti’Punch is made using a lime, sugar or simple syrup and rum.
“It’s so simple, but so good,” Sinclair said.
“It really is delicious,” Dawn added.
As a local business, Booze Époque is passionate about supporting other area companies. When Sinclair and Dawn decide to go out for a cocktail instead of making their own, they head to places like The Independent or Trina’s Starlite Lounge.
With more of a focus than ever on quality, often local ingredients, it seems Booze Époque has found just the right home in Somerville.
“People like to drink our drinks,” Dawn said.
“People like to drink,” Sinclair countered.
“Then we’re in the right area,” Dawn said. And with that, she and Sinclair were sharing another laugh.
Camberville Cream Float photo courtesy of Booze Epoque.