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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Meet Brother Cleve

source: copyright Michael Young,  2013

For those of you who don’t already know him, Brother Cleve is responsible for building and reinvigorating Boston’s cocktail scene. This is not an exaggeration. He has been doing this for over 30 years and generously so. He has trained some of the greatest bartenders around the city from Jackson Cannon of Eastern Standard, Island Creek Oyster Bar and The Hawthorne to Misty Kalkofen formally of Drink the list goes on. When he’s not bartending, he’s making music. He’s also a well known DJ and for creating lounge music as a member of the musical group, Combustible Edison.

When I first heard of who he is and that I will be meeting with him to work with 9tailors for a bourbon-tastingevent, I was very nervous. I more so sat and watched and listened to 9tailors owner, Samantha Shih and him talk. I nervously chimed in from time to time, trying to make sure I didn't say anything overly eager or something for the sake of not staying completely silent the whole time. He ended up being very social and full of storytelling about his experiences.

One of his current positions is being a Beverage Consultant at Delta Group LLC in Boston. I got to ask him a few questions and here is what he had to say:

Briefly describe your products, services and company.

“We offer a variety of services and bars, including consulting on food and beverage menus, staff training, social media and website design, architectural design, and financial management/evaluation/investment services. Aside from the company, I also create cocktails for events (which I often bartend as well). And I’ve been in the music industry for over 30 years, performing around the world in bands (I play keyboard instruments and as a DJ. I’ve scored music for television and films, and create soundscapes/sound design. My clients have included Cinemax/HBO, Universal Studios Orlando, Discovery Channel, among them.”

Please provide a brief background of yourself and your co-founders.

“The Foodservice sector of the company is run by Henry Patterson, a 35-year veteran of the industry, and former owner of the Bel Canto chain of restaurants, which he sold in 1991. I met Henry in 2012, when he brought me in as Director of Beverage Programming. I have been involved with cocktail development since the late 1980s, and have created drink menus at many establishments and events since that time”

When did you join the company?


Why did you decide to star your business?

“I am not the owner of this business, just part of the a team. That said, I am also hired on my own by individuals looking for signature cocktails for parties, weddings, or other sorts of events. And I have been a DJ since the mid-90s, spinning in the clubs all around the world. I also work corporate parties, house parties, weddings, special events of all kinds. With around 10,000 records and CD’s and 50,000 digital music files, I can safely say I have something to please everyone”

What is unique about your products, services and company?

“My passion has always been the alchemy involved in creating something new from diverse elements, be it in music creation or mixing as a DJ or mixing as a bartender. I love to create a flow in sound or in liquid. And, like an actor, I like to look the part. Because one of my main styles has been with lounge music and cocktails, much of my look has been built on retro/modernism, which sounds like a dichotomy but really isn’t. But I also do things like tropical parties, where I dress in a South of the Border/South Pacific hybrid. Or I can spin South Asian/Bollywood music while dressed in Nehru suit. It’s all like parts in a play”

What is your favorite piece of advice that you tell your customers about your product?

“Be it music or cocktails, having some sort of theme for an event is always a fun approach. It gives a great starting point and gives a way to tie everything – food, drink, music, décor, fashion – together. I think it makes everything more memorable for the guest. And the guest should be your number one priority”

What’s trending in your industry/field/business?

“Cocktails have grown enormously in popularity since when I got started, which is when they were at their lowest ebb. You couldn't even buy things like bitters back then, unless you searched extra hard (I bout Orange Bitters in Indiana, for instance… the only place I could find them! Now I can buy them at my local supermarket). Techniques like barrel-aged and bottle-aged cocktails, carbonated cocktails, things like that, as well as the plethora of (often local) craft spirits and imports of small global brands…there is a wealth of flavors available to craft into tasty libations. In music, things always move forward, and the internet has brought the world of music and the music of the world closer together; you don’t have to search fro records in piles of rubble (as I did for many years in the bazaars of India, digging for tracks which will be on my new compilation “Bombay Disco”, due out in Spring 2014). And while vinyl records have become popular for the first time in a generation, advances in software for DJ’s and producers has made it inherently easier to mix and produce music, even on something as compact as an IPad. It’s amazing how far things have advanced in a relatively short amount of time”

source: GQ, December 1996 by Dewey Nicks

Where can my customers buy more of your products?

“Currently, I have a menu of cocktails at First Printer in Harvard Sq, Cambridge, and at Rovezzi’s, an award-winning Italian restaurant out in Sturbridge, in Central Massachusetts. I’ve had cocktails on menus at places like Eastern Standard, Legal Seafoods, Back Bar, Drink (well they don’t really have a menu…), Brick & Mortar, Noir and many others”

What is your favorite drink? Why?

"The Manhattan has been my favorite cocktail for almost 40 years. I've even done lectures/seminars on its history at cocktail conventions and at universities. It's a simple drink to make, but also very simple to make incorrectly, so that's why it's my litmus test for bartenders. A well made one has the perfect balance between sweet, bitter and bracing, which is probably why  its retained its popularity since the first one was poured back in 1873. I prefer mine made with American Rye whiskey, the spirit used when it was first mixed"

Anything else you would like to include?

“I also create, and serve, original cocktails fairly often at Redstar Union (redstarunion.com), a very cool and intimate performance space in Kendal Square. You can only get access to it by going to the website”

If you would like to contact Brother Cleve, you can reach him at http://www.thedeltagroupllc.com/foodservice-team brothercleve@gmail.com cleve@deltafoodservice.com +1-617-230-5152

source: Lauren Clark, 2010

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