Tamara says to Fernanda:

"I believe this would be a perfectly lovely bowl in which to serve one of our 'straight up' dishes!"




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The Boston Herald
Mat Schaffer
10 /04

"Cuchi Cuchi barkeep finds art of mixing cocktails intoxicating - paints with palette of flavors."

"Clif Travers knows what Bostonians drink - he's tended bar in the hub for more than 20 years.  These days you'll find him mixing cocktails at Cuchi Cuchi in Cambridge where the drink list includes old standards such as Singapore Slings and Brandy Alexanders and newfangled concoctions (try an Ali Cat or Basil Lime Martini).

A painter, sculptor and floral designer by day, Travers brings his artistic sensibilities to his nighttime gig.  'A lot of times people come in and they won't be interested in anything that's on the drink list and I'll try to combine some flavors to make something special for them,' he said.  'They give me an idea right up front what they like - they like citrus, or they like something dry - I'll come up with something for them.'

'Take a person who comes in who drinks a Handricks Martini, straight up with olives,' he continues.  'Our Basil Lime Martini is perfect for someone like that.  It's not an overly sweet cocktail; it's very refreshing.  The basil is similar to the olive - it gives that spiciness but they also get the dryness with the lime.  And I'd make it gin-based instead of vodka-based.'  Travers invented many of his cocktails for specific patrons.  'I have a lot of regulars that come in and I've created cocktails for them,' he said.  'Then they'll come in every time and ask for their drink.  Eventually they tell people about their cocktail and other people start ordering it.'

Travers' tools are glass and metal shakers, an aluminum strainer and a muddler.  'It looks like a small baseball bat made out of hardwood,' he says.  'You use it to muddle (crush) whatever fruit or herbs you have, with a little bit of ice.  The surface of the ice helps to break down the berries or oranges or limes - whatever it is that you're using.  You get a slushy slurry of all the fruits, berries, and herbs.'

How important are fresh ingredients?

'As important as if you were cooking,' Travers insisted.  'If your cocktail is made with presweetened, lime-based, fake juice - as opposed to a drink that's muddled with fresh limes and real sugar - you'll know right away, even before you taste it.  The smell will be different; the color will be different.  It will be a different cocktail.'

During the past two decades, Travers has seen the public's drinking tastes change dramatically.  'It's gone the same way the general public's taste for food has gone,' he said.  'I've noticed that people are drinking cleaner cocktails - the same way that people are eating food that they can taste the elements of.  People aren't asking for drinks that are masking the alcohol.  They want to taste everything that's in it - the mixer, the fruit, the alcohol.  They don't want something that's a big mess of a bunch of stuff and comes up sweet and purple.  Nobody orders a Woo Woo anymore.  No one orders Sex on the Beach.  They order a Caipirinha or a Mojito or a good Margarita.  A lot of the classics are coming back.  I'm making a lot of Old Fashioneds and Sidecars and Manhattans and, of course, Martinis.  Some of those old cocktails that people have lost track of - like a Between the Sheets - have come back.'

Bartending allows Travers the opportunity to be artistic even when he's away from his studio.  'It's the one thing I find to be stimulating as an artist without interfering with my artwork,' he said.  'This is creative in a different way.  It's visual, it's taste, it's smell and also it's a lot of theater back there.  It's all art - it has to be.'"


Cuchi Cuchi
795 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139
Tel: 617.864.2929     Fax: 617.864.7997