When I first talked to Jared Boller for Bite Metwo weeks ago, it was because he was one of the multitude unexpectedly let go by Jim Sullivan during the synchronized closures of Nine75 and Ocean. Then the head bartender at Ocean, Boller had been back from the Cocktail World Cup in New Zealand (where he and his team placed second in the world) all of a week when word came down that his services were no longer required. But while most of the suddenly ex-employees of the Sullivan Restaurant Group took the news hard, Boller showed a surprising amount of equanimity about how things had gone down.
"It employed me," he said at the time. "I'm happy it employed me. And I did what I could."
His plan was to update his resume, talk to some friends, see what kind of work was available and start prepping for the next bartending competition—of which there’s no shortage locally, nationally or internationally. And he quickly found work: behind the bar of the resurrected Nine75. Boller was one of the Sullivan group’s first re-hires after the restaurant was bought by the Jet Entertainment Group. But he didn’t give up on the competition world.
And on Monday, Boller took first place at the Finlandia Vodka Cup regionals -- a win that now sends him on to the U.S. championships in Colorado Springs on November 10, with a shot at representing Denver and the good ol’ U. S. of A. at the world championships to be held…
Wait for it…
\In the Arctic Circle.
Seriously, that sounds like some kind of weird temperance-movement set-up to subtly dispose of all the world’s best bartenders. But since Finlandia is sponsoring the contest and Finland actually is in the Arctic, I guess it makes sense.
Boller’s three winning drinks (an aperitif, a long-drink and an after-dinner cocktail) were fairly amazing, to be sure. He did a Jasmelon Germain with jasmine simple syrup, St. Germain, honeydew melon syrup, champagne and berry vodka; a ginger fueslo with ginger cordial, sage, sour mix, ginger beer and vodka; and a “Helsinki Coco Mango” with mango-flavored vodka, coconut milk, simple syrup, pureed mango and Navan (a kind of cognac), shaken and poured in a sake cup – which makes my after-dinner drink of two swallows of whiskey taken directly from the bottle, standing up over the sink, seem positively pedestrian by comparison.
So congratulations, Jared, on both the job and the win. But next time, you might be wise to compete in some sort of rum-based competition. Or tequila. Something that won’t require him having his supplies shipped in by sled dog and all his blood replaced with antifreeze. -- Jason Sheehan