I Am Downtown Boston: Jamie Walsh, Bar Manager at Stoddard’s Fine Food & Ale
It’s no surprise Stoddard’s Fine Food & Ale won best downtown bar by The Improper Bostonian. They’ve had years of practice. At least in theory.
Located in the historic 144-year-old Stoddard’s Fine Cutlery building (brick walls with framed brassieres rekindling its past as a corset shop), the bar’s cocktail program is a loving nod to yesteryear. Their “classics” pay homage to long-forgotten elixirs such as the ’20s Detroit Daisy, the 1916 Royal Fizz, and a ’30s Savoy Blackthorne, while today’s adventurer dives into a beer list of American-style ales and lagers from the U.S. and a wide selection from Europe.
Self-proclaimed “chief bottle washer” (others call him bar manager and marketing/events guy), Walsh is part of the four-man team keeping Stoddard’s on top. Together with Wayne Cintolo (principal owner), Patrick DeFreitas (GM/Partner) and Chef Jason Fiset, he helped open Stoddard’s six years ago.
Belly up to Stoddard’s immense bar, an impressive 15-feet-by-30-feet hand-carved UK import, as we chat with Walsh about what exactly put this downtown Boston tavern on the map.
The Voice of Downtown Boston: Congratulations on winning a Boston’s Best. What do you think is Stoddard’s appeal?
Jamie Walsh: It’s a fun place to hang out. We have a good, fun atmosphere. We keep it loose. I like our Friday and Saturday nights. It can get loud and fun, which is exactly what a bar room should be.
VOD: How would you define Stoddard’s?
JW: We’re not an English Pub. We’re not an Irish pub. We’re an American pub. Boston has been littered with American pubs, taverns and coffeehouses from the 17th century until now.
VOD: What does it add to the Downtown Crossing bar scene?
JW: I hope it adds another destination and another layer to a great scene started by Jerry Foley (J.J. Foley’s) and Josh Childs (Silvertone.) We wouldn’t be here if not for those guys.
VOD: What’s the vibe you’re going for?
JW: We have been told we have a NYC vibe but with a Boston soul. We’re big fans of J.J Foley’s, Doyle’s Cafe, and The Erie Pub – just old school local bar rooms.
VOD: Any unique drinks you care to mention?
JW: I like our Nine Dollar Sazarac. The price is in the title. We also kept the Ward 8 alive. That was invented from our very famous (now gone) neighbor, Locke Ober. We have a strong selection of brown spirits, so we end up making a lot of Old Fashions at night. We also sell a “few” beers every now and again. (Fact: there are more than 100 varieties between taps, cans, and casks).
VOD: How does the decor tell the building’s history?
JW: The décor is actually very simple – old school, lots of wood. Our building is the former quarters of Stoddard’s Fine Cutlery and home of the original tenant Chandler’s Corset Store. The building was built in 1868 and is one of the “new” structures to survive the Great Fire of 1872. We’re listed on the Temple Place National Historic Register.
VOD: How does food fit into the equation?
JW: Our cuisine is kept simple and very New England. The menu changes with the seasons, so it always stays fresh. One great dishe unique to us is the Ballotine of Vermont Rabbit. I also think we have one of the best burgers in Boston.
VOD: What’s the future hold for Stoddard’s?
JW: We’re working hard at what we are doing now and hope we’re still relevant in the near future. Boston is a funny city. Trends change all the time.