10 questions with mixologist Jake Smith

Hey Soda City, Jess here and I’m back with you just for a day. 

I had the opportunity to talk with a bartender who you might remember that has a similar experience to my story of shipping up to Boston (hey, BOStoday) last year. Jake Smith is an award-winning mixologist who has worked at Tazza Kitchen + Motor Supply Company and is now serving up tasty drinks in New England. 

Let’s check in with Jake to see how life’s been in Boston + get to know him a little better. From his favorite drinks to his favorite Cola dishes, here’s what he had to say. Plus, keep reading for a custom cocktail recipe just for #DrinkUpCola.  

If you had to convince a friend to move to Columbia, what would you tell them?

Columbia is under the radar, one of the biggest up-and-coming cities in the South. I would say it has a ton of potential, it just needs the right players to be there to push things forward, help it grow, and elevate what they do there. Whether it’s just beautiful weather, the summertime lasts almost all year — which is great and terrible at the same time. But I think everyone that’s from there has this special place in our hearts.

What Cola dish do you absolutely crave and rave about?

Yes. I think about it frequently and it is Chef Rhett’s chicken bog from the War Mouth. I literally think about that dish like once a week and I’m like, “Man, I need some chicken bog right now.”

Can you describe Columbia’s personality in three words?

Easygoing, corralled, and ambitious. I would say everybody there really has a sense of pride for where they come from and what they’re doing. They’re super easygoing. It’s in terms of like letting people in and experiencing new cultures are pretty open to it. 

If someone from Boston would visit Cola, where would you take them on a tour?

So you’d definitely have to hit all the districts and I’d have to focus on the cocktails. We’d spend time on Main Street hitting up all those places and hanging out at Bourbon. Then making our way down to Smoked or Transmission Arcade, definitely getting out of the city a little bit would be really cool, like going out on the lake and doing a walk down the Riverwalk and checking out the campus, showing how grand college sports are there because it’s definitely something that you don’t really see outside of that city. 

If you’re going to take someone from Columbia on a tour of Boston, where would you take them?

We’re absolutely going down to the Boston Common. We’re absolutely going to a Red Sox game, and we’re gonna go hang out in the bleachers. And third I’d say explore the nightlife. I definitely hang out around the Back Bay area or branch out a little bit, probably go more towards the Common and hit the arcade bar (Versus) or something like that. 

What’s a pro tip that you want to share with anyone who’s new to the Soda City?

Dress cool. Yeah, that is like the hottest place I’ve ever been. It stays hot. But realistically be nice to people. It’s such a small town, everyone knows each other. You see everybody everywhere. Also, pro tip. check out the smaller spots — Kiki’s Chicken and Waffles is the best chicken and waffles in the area.

What has been the biggest difference for you moving from Columbia to Boston?

The biggest difference is definitely the city itself. I mean, it’s huge. It’s more similar than most people would think. Just because the culture is just very opposite. A lot of people believe this in the South and I hear people believe the completely opposite thing. The people here are pretty identical in terms of how proud they are and that aspect. The most major thing I would say is the weather here is nice all the time except for the winter. And the snowstorms are very serious. Don’t decide to go walking out in the snowstorms when you’re getting 24 inches of snow.

What is the most popular drink from whenever you were working in Columbia?

My number one cocktail order whenever I was in Columbia was always daiquiris. 

Are there any bartenders you want to shout out that you really appreciated their work and Columbia?

Everybody? Pretty much everyone that said there wasn’t that many of us you know like the guys that are really doing like the craft cocktail scene there. There’s a huge amount of them but everyone there I mean, from like Cat, or David over at War Mouth and Grant over a Ratio. All the guys have Hendrix, they’re still doing a great job over there. And people like Andy Haddock, did a lot for the scene there and it’s so tight knit. 

If you’re taking someone on a date for cocktails in Cola, where are you taking them?

My absolutely favorite tapas spot on a Monday night was Gervais & Vine. It’s local chef owned and operated with a rotating seasonal menu and delicious wine menu. I also want to say Smoked because I never made it there when I was there. You also can’t go wrong with the War Mouth — it’s just so good.

Jake crafted a cocktail for #DrinkUpCola called “Origin Story.” | Photo via @jake_smith_mixologist

Custom Cocktail
COLAtoday — Origin Story by Jake Smith 

2 dashes peychauds bitters

1 barspoon ginger juice 

0.5oz Chanh Muôi cordial

0.5oz lemon

1.5oz Hayman’s Old Tom gin 

Dry shake all ingredients in a cocktail tin then pour into a highball glass. Top with crushed ice and a little soda

I garnished this cocktail with a little lime leaf, but it’s definitely not necessary. 

Chanh Muôi is a Vietnamese fermented lime beverage that would translate closely to lemonade. It’s usually served in the summer with a little sugar water to cool off. 

My recipe for Chanh Muôi includes toasted coconut, lime leaf, lemongrass, clove, bronze fennel, and palm sugar, but you can use any recipe you find online! I’ve found that 5 days is the perfect fermentation period for this.