Article By: Brandy Rand
BAR AND BEVERAGE MANAGER AT FRANKLIN RESTAURANT GROUP
JOY RICHARD is well-known around Boston for managing “craft cocktail” bars before the term existed. She’s always had a passion for mixing up expertly made drinks and stellar cocktail menus suited to a variety of tastes. Richard is also one of the founding members of the Boston chapter of LUPEC (Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails), a group of female bartenders dedicated to libation education and enlightenment. But when it comes down to it, Richard’s laid-back vibe is what draws people to track her down each night at the various bars she manages (Citizen Public House, Franklin Café, Franklin Southie and Tasty Burger). As an integral part of the Boston cocktail scene, Richard enjoys the process of learning and sharing with others – from deciphering the 15O whiskies on the Citizen menu, to having fun with the lost art of frozen drinks on Tiki night.
BRANDY RAND Your LUPEC moniker is “Bourbon Belle.” What’s the story behind it?
JOY RICHARD The Bourbon Belle is a cocktail I came up with years ago, and it seemed a very fitting name when I was choosing my LUPEC moniker, being that I’m a huge Bourbon lover (and drinker), and a lady, of course.
BR When did you decide working behind the bar was the career for you?
JR I’ve worked in restaurants since the age of 15 and by the time I got behind a bar at 19, I was in love with the industry. I worked as a server and bartender through college, and continued to do so after graduating. By 28, I needed a break from the bar and took 5 years off from bartending, though I continued to maintain the position of bar manager (in addition to other roles), and was still in charge of creating the cocktail lists. During this “break” we started the Boston chapter of LUPEC, so I was continuously immersed in the cocktail culture, creating drinks, taking classes, and teaching classes about drinks. I started getting the itch to be back behind a bar, and before I knew it, I was back to full-time bartending and managing bars.
BR Best part of the night is . . .
JR Between midnight and 2am, when all of the servers and bartenders around town get off of their shifts and come to my bars. Everyone is in a great mood and ready to put work behind them, share some great stories, and have a good time.
BR How has the role of the female bartender evolved over the years from your perspective?
JR So many female bartenders I know are incredibly serious about what they do. They love the job and will do whatever it takes to elevate their knowledge and technique. I see a lot more ambitious female bartenders around the country than ever before. I think organizations like LUPEC and Speed Rack have been instrumental in motivating female bartenders to learn and improve, and have really helped shine the light on scores of fantastic, smart, fast, super talented, kick-ass women in the industry.
BR You bounce between both Franklin locations and Citizen managing the bar program. What is that like?
JR It’s a nice balance. Each restaurant has a very different vibe and clientele, and therefore very different cocktail and spirits lists. I love bartending and writing the drink lists at all of the restaurants. Franklin Southie is a fun and relaxed neighborhood spot. Franklin Café in the South End also has a great neighborhood crowd interested in craft cocktails, with a very industry heavy late night crew, all ready to unwind and put back a few beers and shots. Then Citizen goes from high volume Red Sox pre and post-game clientele, to a crowd of craft cocktail and whiskey enthusiasts with a thirst for knowledge (and booze, of course), to late night industry workers. Each spot is a ton of fun to bartend and manage, and very diverse from one another, so it keeps things exciting.
BR Favorite drink of the moment and why?
JR It’s been the 1794 for quite some time now, which is equal parts Rye, Campari, and Sweet Vermouth. (I finally put it on draft at the Citizen!). But my new go-to when I want a nice refreshing summery drink is a cocktail our Assistant Bar Manager for the group, Chad Arnholt, came up with. It’s called the Levigator, and is also on our drink list at the Citizen. It’s 2 ½ ounces of Cocchi Americano and ½ ounce of Fernet Branca, stirred, strained, and served down in a chilled rocks glass with orange oil.
BR Are more women drinking whiskey these days? How and what are they drinking at your bars?
JR I’ve been regularly attending whiskey tastings for the last 5 or 6 years and have definitely seen an increase in women at these events. At the Citizen, we really do have a lot of women drinking whiskey, and many of them are interested in getting out of their comfort zone and letting our bartenders guide them through all different styles of whiskey. In fact, the second person ever to complete our Whiskey Club Card (drinking over 9O different whiskies from our list) is a woman! Whiskey cocktails like the Ideal Manhattan are approachable and popular with both men and women, but we see a ton of women drinking their whiskey unadulterated, maybe with some Kold Draft (ice cubes) or an ice ball.
BR How would you describe the cocktail scene in Boston to someone who has never been here before?
JR In my opinion, we have one of the top cocktail scenes in the country, with talented, fun, and unpretentious bartenders. In the last few years Boston has opened a bunch of serious cocktail bars that have gained local and national attention. One of my favorite aspects of the Boston cocktail scene is that we’re all great friends. We may be competitive in our own ways, but it never gets in the way of our friendship. Everyone genuinely wants to help each other out, and to help elevate our bars and the profession.
BR If you could impart one piece of drink wisdom to your customers, what would it be?
JR Treat others the way you want to be treated.
BR Your bars are known as being places your comrades in the trade like to come on their nights off (or late night). Where do you like to go when you’re not working?
JR I’ll go wherever my friends are bartending. Trina’s Starlight Lounge, Brick & Mortar, and Backbar have been seeing a lot of me these days…
BR Next big spirit or cocktail trend will be . . .
JR Probably going to get my ass kicked for this, but frozen drinks. There are a few of us pretty excited about making really interesting and untraditional blended drinks when we’re behind the bar. I have a lot of fun playing around with different spirits that you wouldn’t normally consider putting into a frozen drink. I enjoy it so much I actually set up a blender station at a huge party I went to last weekend. I did a messed up variation of the Miami Vice, with a Fernet “Colada” and a Chartreuse Strawberry “Daiquiri”. Now I can never going back to the regular version.
BR Best piece of advice you ever got about working in the beverage industry?
JR “Kill ‘em with kindness.” I really believe that if you can’t be nice to everyone, you shouldn’t be in this business.