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Bars & Clubs

Harpoon Beer Hall
Photo Credit Nicole Popma

New Addition

Harpoon Beer Hall

For those who love a cold one, Harpoon’s South Boston brewery looks like Willy Wonka’s factory—and after waiting in lines that can stretch to the street on weekends, customers certainly feel like they’ve won a golden ticket once they enter. The Boston-based brewer’s new on-site beer hall is serious about its craft, offering 19 Harpoon varieties on tap (including exclusive pilot batches), huge pretzels with a variety of tasty dipping sauces and a TV-free atmosphere that’s all about the suds. 

306 Northern Ave., Boston, 617-456-2322, harpoonbrewery.com
  • Beer Bar

    Sunset Grill & Tap

    Sure, there are newer buzzed-about beer bars, but this old master is still the top draft pick. With 380 different brews, including 112 on tap, Sunset Grill & Tap has your favorite—and your soon-to-be favorite. The ever-changing lineup includes many rarely seen specimens. (We recently savored Samuel Adams’ Cherry Chocolate Bock.) Rotating daily beer specials, a strict policy on keeping taps fresh and a carefully curated selection of 5-ounce beer flights keep this bar shining bright.

    130 Brighton Ave., Boston, 617-254-1331, allstonsfinest.com
  • Dance Club

    ZuZu

    Tucked inside Cambridge’s famed Middle East club complex, the tiny ZuZu bumps with a vast variety of sounds after 10 pm, as DJs spin everything, including house, electropop, old-school hip-hop, ska, indie and Motown. The crowded feel—so packed that Saturday’s ever-popular Soulelujah recently expanded into the Middle East Upstairs—cultivates a contagious energy, not to mention dancing on chairs, tables and in the window. 

    474 Mass. Ave., Cambridge, 617-864-3278, zuzubar.com
  • Dive Bar

    Drinking Fountain

    With its colorful crew of regulars and weathered—OK, awfully shabby—exterior, Drinking Fountain has a decidedly come-as-you-are vibe. Step into this time-warped watering hole, and there’s plenty to hold your attention: two billiards tables in the back, a couple of video arcade games and Keno. But the steady flow of drinks and open conversations across the bar are all you really need in a throwback atmosphere that has no expiration date. 

    3520 Washington St., Jamaica Plain, 617-522-7335
  • Gay Scene

    Hot Mess! Sundays

    Need a cure for the Sunday-night blues? Underbar’s Hot Mess! has it, as guys gather in packs to check out this can’t-miss scene. Bold outfits, scantily clad dancers and blaring rhythms from DJs Richie LaDue and Destiny create a party filled with pride. And the Sunday time slot ensures an industry crowd (read: all the hottest waiters in town) ready to let loose. 

    275 Tremont St., Boston, 617-292-0080, underbaronline.com
  • Hotel Bar

    The Hawthorne

    Every night at the Hotel Commonwealth’s Hawthorne feels like attending a swank cocktail party in your sophisticated friend’s living room, complete with eye-catching art, cozy seating, and conversation-sparking coffee table books. Attentive service and soft lighting add to the elegant feel, but the true star of this party is the wide-ranging and innovative beverage program. With classics old and new, summer-ready swizzles and originals like the spice-tinged Bull Fighter (zucca, Bärenjäger, ginger and lemon), it’s no wonder the patrons are always singing the praises of co-owner and bar director Jackson Cannon.

    500A Comm. Ave., Boston, 617-532-9150, thehawthornebar.com
  • Industry Hangout

    Franklin Cafe

    It’s like a prom for those in the biz, but leave your gown at home. Franklin Cafe’s Sunday-through-Tuesday late-night menu caters specifically to the hospitality set, turning the South End joint into the place to be for waiters, bartenders, cooks and restaurateurs. Its location, smack in an epicenter for foodies, also helps draw a crowd, and the sleek-yet-simple darkened interior sets a proper end-of-the-night mood. 

    278 Shawmut Ave., Boston, 617-350-0010, franklincafe.com
  • Irish Bar

    James’s Gate

    The exterior facade is modeled on the original James’s Gate, Dublin’s centuries-old entrance to the Guinness brewery, and the feel inside this intimate Jamaica Plain pub is likewise authentically Irish. Cheery orange walls, rustic wooden tables and a large stone fireplace offer respite from the winter’s chill. Helping to keep the spirited patrons warm year-round: an eclectic selection of 20 beers on tap.

    5 McBride St., Jamaica Plain, 617-983-2000
  • Lesbian Scene

    Milky Way Lounge

    Jamaica Plain’s welcoming style seems comfortably on its axis at Milky Way. A country itch is scratched with Dirty Water Saloon on Tuesdays (line dancing to Lady Gaga, anyone?). DJ Stella starts the month with a bang at La Boum on first Fridays. And on the fourth Friday of each month, the long-running, much-loved Dyke Night continues to be out of this world. 

    284 Amory St., Boston, 617-524-6060, milkywayjp.com 
  • Mixologist

    Young Won at Rialto

    Rialto’s Young Won has always had a creative flair, though potables weren’t her original outlet. The 36-year-old Cambridge native spent time as a fashion buyer for Diesel and eyed a career in architecture, but it was under the guidance of Rialto’s Jody Adams and Ivan Law that she forged a successful career in cocktails. With a keen palate developed working with liquor legends Jackson Cannon and Todd Maul, Won has transformed the Rialto bar. Her Beekeeper drink has garnered plenty of buzz, and she believes it showcases her philosophy on drinks: “I like to use lots of ingredients, teas, bitters — it’s not just about the liquor.”

    1 Bennett St., Cambridge, 617-661-5050, rialto-restaurant.com
  • Neighborhoods - Allston

    Deep Ellum and Lone Star Taco Bar

    Drawing inspiration from the artsy Dallas ’hood of the same name, craft beer and specialty cocktail haven Deep Ellum continues to wow customers from across the city. Daily drafts include Baby Tree from Pretty Things, Cologne’s Reissdorf Kolsch, ciders, saisons, lambics and ales from everywhere—not to mention the connoisseur collection of spirits and wines. And next door, the 18-month-old Lone Star extends its sister spot’s artisanal approach to Mexican fare such as mezcal, tequila and tacos. Whichever door you pick, you’ll be in good company. 

    477 Cambridge St., Allston, 617-787-2337, deepellumboston.com479 Cambridge St., Allston, 617-782-8226, lonestar-boston.com
  • Neighborhoods - Back Bay

    Bukowski Tavern

    Slip on a bowler hat and roll up your sleeves as you stride into Bukowski’s, a hole-in-the-wall overlooking the Mass. Pike that pairs an elite beer-bar reputation with the feel of a genuine dive. It’s named after one of the hard-drinking literary giants of the 20th century, but before the conversation turns existential, we’ll prose the pros: 21 beers on tap from 21 different brewers, a voluminous selection of bottled and canned beer, off-menu food deals and a mug club for regulars.

    50 Dalton St., Boston, 617-437-9999, bukowskitavern.net
  • Neighborhoods - Beacon Hill

    The Tip Tap Room

    The barely year-old brainchild from chef Brian Poe (Poe’s Kitchen at the Rattlesnake, Estelle’s) focuses on the eponymous tips (as in steak, swordfish and lamb) and taps (about 61 bottles and 36 drafts), plus cocktails such as the lethal Redrum made with house-made red-pepper-infused rum, cabernet, ginger, lime and mint. Add Poe’s stock-in-trade—exotic specials such as kangaroo and yak—and a wise and friendly staff, and it’s no wonder Tip Tap’s quickly climbed to the top of the hill.

    138 Cambridge St., Boston, 857-350-3344, thetiptaproom.com
  • Neighborhoods - Brighton

    Devlin’s Restaurant

    With three bars—one warm and woodsy with a menu after 10 pm, another serving the bistro dining area and a third on the patio—Devlin’s features plenty of space and variety to please the postgrad and post-work crowd in Brighton Center. There’s an internationally flavored menu (Thai, Mexican, Irish) and a similarly wide-ranging musical lineup: live jazz on Wednesdays and at Sunday brunch, a reggae band on Thursdays, and DJs on Fridays and Saturdays, all with no cover. 

    332 Washington St., Brighton, 617-779-8822, edevlins.com
  • Hops N Scotch
    Photo Credit: Dan Watkins

    Neighborhoods - Brookline

    Hops N Scotch

    The name may be playful, but this handsome, upscale pub in Coolidge Corner takes its liquids seriously, serving 80 beers and 120 types of Scotch, whiskey and bourbon, plus beer cocktails and other libations. The peripatetic menu features fried pickles, Scotch eggs, catfish po’ boys and seared tofu. And the not-quite-year-old spot has already cultivated a community feel: The whiskey and beer flights of four have plenty of devotees on Tuesday nights, when area medical professionals get a discount on grub.

    1306 Beacon St., Brookline, 617-232-8808, hopsnscotchbar.com
  • Neighborhoods - Cambridge: Central Square

    Brick & Mortar

    It’s more accurately named than its predecessor, the Enormous Room, but Brick & Mortar has maintained the total lack of signage. So enter the unmarked blue door beside its sister eatery, Central Kitchen, and climb the steep flight of stairs to find a warm space with brick walls and a big copper bar serving small plates and killer drinks. The mixology team has earned fans with cocktails such as the 4-5-6 and the Ryan Gosling—fans that include the Esquire staff, who recently named the bar among the best in America.

    567 Mass. Ave., Cambridge, 617-491-0016, brickandmortarbar.com
  • Neighborhoods - Cambridge: Harvard Square

    Park Restaurant & Bar

    Set in the subterranean site that formerly housed the Redline bar, this space is so cozily designed, you’d never guess you’re basically drinking in a parking garage. There are four distinct areas: a dining room with private and communal tables, a classroom with chalkboards and a fireplace, a back room with 1960s art and Harvard Square memorabilia, and a den with leather banquettes, bookshelves and antique curiosities. Each makes a great setting for tucking into executive chef Jesse Terrin’s hearty fare or something from the well-stocked bar.

    59 JFK St., Cambridge, 617-491-9851, parkcambridge.com
  • Neighborhoods - Cambridge: Inman Square

    Trina’s Starlite Lounge

    A hipster heaven, Trina’s hits the high notes with down-home yummies (from grilled cheese and succotash to waffles and hot dogs), classic and original drinks (try the Call Me, Maybe, with orange gin, Lillet and Cocchi Americano), and seasoned servers and bartenders under the tutelage of co-owner and hall-of-fame barman Josh Childs. The industry-aimed brunch on Mondays is awesome.

    3 Beacon St., Somerville, 617-576-0006, trinasstarlitelounge.com
  • West Bridge
    Photo Credit Nicole Popma

    Neighborhoods - Cambridge: Kendall Square

    West Bridge

    The Egg in a Jar may be the food fave that gets the ink, but under the skilled and friendly hand of bar manager Josh Taylor (a veteran of Eastern Standard), the drink quality here is superior. Wine selections are broad, and the bartender will help you align one to match the small plates. The French-accented menu, industrial-chic decor, patio and brainy servers have helped make West Bridge a magnet for the neighborhood’s life-sciences crowd—and for the rest of us, too.

    1 Kendall Square, Cambridge, 617-945-0221, westbridgerestaurant.com
  • Neighborhoods - Cambridge: Porter Square

    Toad

    Tiny Toad still slays the giants with its unpretentious bar and a stage that showcases local talents (such as George Woods, who brings his signature style of folk-funk on July 6). Toad teams up with its adjacent sibling, Christopher’s, to serve basic burgers, and it specializes in local beers on tap, including picks from Jack’s Abby, Slumbrew and Cambridge Brewing Company. With nightly music and no cover, there’s no wonder it can be hard to elbow in on weekends. 

    1912 Mass. Ave., Cambridge, 617-497-4950, toadcambridge.com
  • Neighborhoods - Charlestown

    Warren Tavern

    No news is good news at this historic watering hole, which retains the earthy feel that’s made it a hit with fans from both banks of Boston Harbor since the 1970s (though it’s been in existence since 1780, a tad before our time). Tourists drop by to see where George Washington and Paul Revere once hung out, and the killer burger and clam chowder remain standouts.

    2 Pleasant St., Charlestown, 617-241-8142, warrentavern.com
  • Neighborhoods - Dorchester

    Dbar

    After 9 pm, this elegant restaurant from rising-star chef Chris Coombs (Deuxave, Boston Chops) attracts a turnout of mostly gay guys and single girls looking to dance to ’80s music and mingle at the polished and dimly lit boîte. A pioneer venture for Dorchester gay and lesbian nightlifers, the eight-year-old mahogany-paneled lounge has become a classy in-town destination—especially on Show Tune Tuesdays, its fabulous Broadway sing-along night. 

    1236 Dorchester Ave., Dorchester, 617-265-4490, dbarboston.com
  • Neighborhoods - Downtown Crossing

    Silvertone Bar & Grill

    There are rivals for favorite industry-insider bar, but Silvertone Bar & Grill, which celebrated its sweet-16 in April, basically retires the category, grabbing the flag with its nicely priced comfort food and craft beer and cocktails. An antidote to the nearby Financial District’s corporate mood, Silvertone is edgy, just this side of a dive. Try the mac ’n’ cheese or steak tips, and wash it down with a Shirley Temple Black—rye, Maurin, ginger beer, lemon juice and ginger simple syrup. Got a group? Chez Freddie, Silvertone’s function room, is available for parties.

    69 Bromfield St., Boston, 617-338-7887, silvertonedowntown.com
  • Neighborhoods - East Boston

    Ecco

    Santarpio’s aside, Eastie was hardly known for its nightlife until the artsy Italian/Hispanic enclave, with its terrific parks and views, became a beacon for gentrification. Ecco, opened in 2008 by David Modica, a Santarpio relative by marriage (wouldn’t you know), exemplifies this diversity (Sunday is gay night) and style. Cocktails include a classic aviation and original concoctions from $8. And if you had a few too many the night before, the Hangover Brunch features Italian, Mexican, Colombian and seafood entrees from $8.50.

    107 Porter St., East Boston, 617-561-1112, eccoboston.com
  • Granary Tavern
    Photo Credit: Adam DeTour

    Neighborhoods - Financial District

    Granary Tavern

    One of the latest in the retinue of the Glynn Hospitality Group (The Black Rose, Dillon’s, Jose McIntyre’s, etc.), Granary is on the Greenway, housed in an 1816 Bulfinch building with exposed brick–and-wood walls, outdoor dining and a lively cocktail scene. Tall tables, a long bar and dim lights are conducive to flirtation. Half the fun is watching the dolled-up young professionals ogle one another. 

    170 Milk St., Boston, 617-449-7110, granarytavern.com
  • Neighborhoods - Jamaica Plain

    The Haven

    Root for the Hibbies (the Hibernian soccer team), down a leann fraoich (heather ale), or quaff one of two dozen Scottish beers (who knew?) as you tackle the haggis. With clan maps and tourist posters on the wall, the Haven’s ethnic bent is hard to miss. Boston’s only Scottish gastropub, this nook near Hyde Square is small and rustic and smacks of the authentic—like the carved wooden sheep in the window.

    2 Perkins St., Jamaica Plain, 617-524-2836, thehavenjp.com
  • Neighborhoods - Mission Hill

    The Squealing Pig

    Loud, crowded and casual, this Irish pub on an easy-to-miss side street near Brigham Circle has a 50-foot bar flanked by exposed brick walls and knotty pine tables. A magnet for the Longwood-area scrubs and med-school set, the Pig is modeled after a bar in Ireland favored by owner Diarmuid O’Neill’s wife, from which it borrows its vibe, down to the Irish-accented servers and “folk off” music on Thursdays. 

    134 Smith St., Boston, 617-566-6651, squealingpigboston.com
  • Neighborhoods - Newton

    Union Street

    Tucked away on an alley near Newton Centre, the multilevel Union Street is part of the local Tavern in the Square group of pubs. A face-lift recently brightened up the space, and the revised menu features all-American comfort fare, including burgers, potpie, chicken fingers and tater tots, plus old favorites like the Big Dig Fries. There’s Stump trivia on Wednesdays, a spacious outdoor patio and a good beer list that brings in the young after-work crowd.

    107R Union St., Newton, 617-964-6684, unionst.com 
  • Neighborhoods - North End

    Waterfront Cafe Sports Bar and Grill

    To survive and thrive for 13 years amid the North End’s changing landscape and customer base signals achievement for this sports bar. Patrons from nearby condos come in shorts and sandals, while business-clad couples mix with tank-topped singles. Play trivia (Wednesdays), mangia freshly made pasta, catch a game, or simply sit and enjoy lively conversation with your local cohort. 

    450 Commercial St., Boston, 617-523-4055, waterfront-cafe.com
  • Neighborhoods - Somerville

    Backbar

    You’ll likely spend an embarrassing amount of time wandering around a parking lot before you find this Union Square bar, marked only by an unobtrusive rusty sign sans capital letters. But this special nightspot is worth the search. The drinks are funky, original and delicious, and the small bites are the same. (The spicy caramel popcorn goes marvelously with the milk punch.) And the Tradesman cocktail list offers a rare find: a craft sip for only seven bucks.

    9 Sanborn Court, Somerville, 617-718-0249, backbarunion.com
  • Neighborhoods - South Boston

    Lincoln Tavern & Restaurant

    Cavernous though it is, on Saturdays there’s often a wait to get into this less-than-a-year-old addition to the Southie gentry. Formerly a Payless shoe store, Lincoln sets a new stage with a New Orleans–style cafe up front, two bars, an open kitchen turning out wood-fired fare from ex-Lucky’s chef Nick Dixon, and eight saloon-style four-tops.

    425 W. Broadway, South Boston, 617-765-8636, lincolnsouthboston.com
  • The Gallows
    Photo Credit Nicole Popma

    Neighborhoods - South End

    The Gallows

    The name nods to Colonial-era hanging grounds nearby, but today the Gallows is plenty lively. The brainchild of alums of the bygone Perdix and bustling Biltmore, the gastropub opened three years ago to huzzah. Its varied menu, top-tier staff and boisterous vibe are still a hit with neighbors, as well as industry late-nighters, who are courted by original drinks such as Dinner with MacGowan (whiskey, vermouth, a fat wash and rosemary simple syrup).

    1395 Washington St., Boston, 617-425-0200, thegallowsboston.com
  • Avery Bar
    Photo Credit: Adam DeTour

    Place to Drink Alone

    Avery Bar

    Hotel bars are often oases for solitary souls—but the Ritz-Carlton’s Avery Bar offers comforts to attract locals as well as out-of-towners. A relatively calm retreat amid the downtown tumult, the bar boasts a midcentury modern vibe with buttery leather seats tucked around corners. The menus, which feature 10 martini variations among other choice sips, are inconspicuously placed on tables, adding to a feel that’s more plush den than high-turnover bar. You may even luck out and score a big spot by the fireplace all for yourself.

    10 Avery St., Boston, 617-574-7100, ritzcarlton.com
  • Post–Fenway Park

    La Verdad

    The scene at the bar will be lively regardless of the final Sox score, and a trip to La Verdad is pretty much a guaranteed win for you. There are more than 20 beers to choose from as well as a stacked selection of tequila, used in cocktails such as the simply delicious house margarita (made with nothing more than tequila, freshly squeezed lime juice and agave) and the Sweet Heat (passion fruit and habanero purees with muddled lime and chilies). If you’re in a rush to get back home, have a shot and grab a taco from the takeout counter.

    1 Lansdowne St., Boston, 617-421-9595, laverdadtaqueria.com
  • Post–TD Garden

    The Greatest Bar

    First things first: The scene begins with live music on the ground floor and a massive screen beaming the moment’s must-see sporting event. The second-floor balcony offers a great view for spying on the off-rhythm shenanigans below. The third-floor bar’s skeeball machines provide a home base for the skeeBoston league. And if you’re looking for a quiet spot to mull over the breaks of the game, then escape upstairs to the top floor, where you’ll find a more upscale saloon vibe. 

    262 Friend St., Boston, 617-367-0544, thegreatestbar.com
  • Pre–Fenway Park

    Yard House

    If you’ve only got time for one drink before the first pitch, you can’t go wrong at Yard House. Yes, it’s a national chain, but this Boston outpost has plenty of room for the pregame crowd and a drink menu reminiscent in size to the Cheesecake Factory’s massive food catalogue (though higher in quality), offering something for all drinkers—even those only satisfied by a half-yard of beer in an enormous glass. Still not enough? Go off-menu for a “chalkboard” selection of tasty specialty brews. And don’t forget to meander to the back porch or patio to get in the mood for summer before seeing the home team. 

    126 Brookline Ave., Boston, 617-236-4083, yardhouse.com
  • Pre–TD Garden

    West End Johnnies

    It’s different places for different faces when you walk into West End Johnnies. Bros, take a right and walk to the back, where there’s a big-screen TV and a classic bar. Business bigwigs, turn left, and grab a table seat for watching passers-by on the street. Hipsters, settle into the comfy sofas and chairs that lend coffee-shop style. Or, everyone can just head down to the basement, where there’s plenty of room for all.

    138 Portland St., Boston, 617-227-1588, westendjohnnies.com
  • Pro-Athlete Playground

    Strega Waterfront

    It may be years before you see your favorite sports stars in bronze at Boston’s long-rumored Plaza of Champions, but you can catch them in the flesh now at Strega Waterfront. Nick Varano’s glitzy Seaport spot draws enough athletes—from home teams and visiting squads—to fill the rosters of an all-star game. It’s no wonder that former Sox star Jason Varitek picked Strega when proposing to his wife.

    1 Marina Park Drive, Boston, 617-345-3992, stregawaterfront.com
  • Bacon buns at Harvest
    Photo Credit: Dan Watkins

    Secret

    Bacon buns at Harvest

    Offer us a complimentary soft, sweet, buttery roll with a drink at any bar, and you’d already be way ahead. Now, add large chunks of bacon—and you’ve gone a long way toward proving the theory that everything is better with bacon. Added bonus: The tops are sprinkled with sugar and salt. Enjoy this treat with a cocktail or a beer at the bar at Harvest, itself something of a hidden favorite, tucked away on a quiet walkway off Brattle Street.

    44 Brattle St., Cambridge, 617-868-2255, harvestcambridge.com
  • Storyville
    Photo Credit: Natasha Moustache

    Singles’ Scene, 20-Somethings

    Storyville

    Evoking its twin namesakes—the turn-of-the-century New Orleans red-light district and the Boston jazz club that drew greats like Billie Holiday in the ’50s—this subterranean club has sultry crimson-and-black decor and a drink lineup that includes a mean Sazerac and the bittersweet Lady Day. The music at Storyville comes loud and fast from DJs such as Grammy nominee Clinton Sparks, who recently began a monthly residency, and the vibe is see-and-be-seen. 

    90 Exeter St., Boston, 617-236-1134, storyvilleboston.com
  • Singles’ Scene, 30-Somethings

    Empire

    Big Night Entertainment Group, the team behind hotspots such as the Estate and Red Lantern, went big indeed with its Seaport showplace. The scale of Empire is amazing: 14,000 square feet full of visual, auditory and gustatory stimulation. With its rich decor, booming soundtrack, huge TVs, plush couches, stylish servers and pan-Asian menu made for sharing, the year-old restaurant and lounge has become a destination for ICA-goers, conventioneers and well-dressed eye candy.

    1 Marina Park Drive, Boston, 617-295-0001, empireboston.com
  • Singles’ Scene, 40-Somethings

    W Lounge

    House-made drinks such as the Boston Tea Party (a bourbon mix in a Mason jar) and the brand-new
    Latin Quarter (Milagro Anejo tequila, Punt e Mes and Bittermens Xocolatl Mole Bitters) are crowd-pleasers at this modern hotel bar in the Theater District. It can draw lines down the street on weekends, as well-dressed denizens wait to flirt and relax amid leather chaises, the gas-lit fire pit and wall-to-wall windows. And veteran bartenders pull in regulars from all parts of the city.

    100 Stuart St., Boston, 617-310-6790, wboston.com
  • Sports Bar

    Jerry Remy’s, Seaport

    Enough TVs to catch every NFL broadcast at 1 pm on Sunday? Check. A 32-screen video wall that lets you focus on the Pats? Check. And a spot outside where you can get a good view of the game while enjoying a cool waterfront breeze, so you don’t feel guilty about being cooped up on a weekend? You bet. Remy’s touches all the bases for a sports fan.

    250 Northern Ave., Boston, 617-856-7369, jerryremysseaport.com
  • Summer Scene

    Legal Harborside’s Rooftop Deck

    Nothing says summer like South Beach. And nothing in Boston feels more like South Beach than this stunning scene in the Seaport District. Walls of windows and a retractable roof ensure that you can comfortably enjoy the spectacular view even on brisk Boston nights. But the scene inside will fight for your attention as swish patrons relax on sleek couches in the main room or on the patio furniture in the side decks. The only way you’ll know you’re not in Miami: surprisingly reasonable prices for cocktails.

    270 Northern Ave., Boston, 617-477-2900, legalseafoods.com
  • Watering Hole for the Well-Heeled

    The Bristol Lounge

    The returns on your investment are high at the Bristol Lounge. A marble bar surrounded by leather stools gives the space its showpiece, bookended by semi-secluded areas that are perfect for large parties. The open layout overlooking the dining room guarantees guests can do some people-watching, be it of the flush clientele or the tourists strolling through the Public Garden outside the far windows. Dead serious about its martinis, the Bristol also offers seasonal takes on bar fare and weekday specials that deliver the proper bang for your (not inconsequential) bucks. 

    200 Boylston St., Boston, 617-351-2037, fourseasons.com
  • Amari in cocktails
    Photo Credit: Dan Watkins; bottles provided by the Urban Grape.

    Welcome Trend

    Amari in cocktails

    Long served after meals, amari have now taken a starring role in aperitifs. Fernet opened the floodgates, and we’re happy to see a full arsenal of the herbal liqueurs behind the bar—artichoke-heavy Cynar, Sicily’s viscous Averna, the floral Meletti, the cola-like Ramazzotti and more, not to mention cousins from beyond Italian borders, like the Czech Becherovka. Often steeped with dozens of botanicals, they add depth and nuance to drinks, proving useful for more than just a bitter end. 

  • Worst Trend

    Price Creep in Cocktails

    Craft booze and first-rate bartenders were sure to be an expensive mix, but the resulting price escalation is getting out of hand. The days of single-digit prices for cocktails at marquee bars are long gone, but the tabs seem to have skipped puberty and gone straight to the mid-teens. An open plea with our wallets in mind: some balance to the checks, please.

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