When Jeffrey Moll began working for Mike Randolph as a waiter at Half & Half, he had never stepped foot behind a professional bar. Fast-forward a few years, and Moll’s name is one of the first to come up when people speak of the city’s top barmen.
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Moll recently scored a win at a cocktail competition hosted by El Mayor tequila, in which he beat out some of the city's biggest mixology names. He also now runs the bar program at Randolfi’s, which I reviewed last week.
Though I used up my allotted ink espousing the virtues of Randolph's adventurous Italian cooking, the review would be incomplete without a mention of Moll’s libations. He has crafted a list that blends the traditional with the esoteric, much like Randolph is doing with the food — think the cocktail version of sweetbreads parmesan. His “Classics” evoke sitting canal-side at Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy and include not one but two different Negronis, an “Americano,” and a powerhouse barrel-aged cocktail called the “Italian Stallion” that consists of North Shore No. 6 gin, Dark Horse Reunion rye, Cocchi di Torino vermouth and Fernet Branca.
The show-stopper, however, is Moll’s #37, a bourbon and Big-O ginger liquor based drink that arrives with a cap of applewood smoke. As our server removed the lid from the glass, the smoke escaped and filled our table with the scent of an autumnal barbecue. If sitting flannel-clad by a fire pit while sipping bourbon has a flavor, it’s the #37.
Moll is a humble guy, crediting his rise to the top of the local bar scene (something he would never say) as a matter of being in the right place in the right time. Which seems funny considering he is responsible for crafting some of the most brazen, innovative drinks available in town — the perfect pairing for Randolph’s envelope-pushing take on Italian dining.
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