The Hilltop

Brother Cleve dials up Route 1 nostalgia with a cocktail


Price: $13

Ingredients: Tenure English vodka, Fords Gin, Cocchi Americano, beef broth, prickly pear syrup, lemon juice, Angostura and celery bitters

Taste: A mix of sweet and savory, this “reversed James Bond martini” stars botanicals from a half ounce of London Dry gin and makes use of an ounce and a half of a “rich flavored” vodka that has Brother Cleve’s stamp of approval. “I’m not a big vodka guy,” Cleve admits. “I used to DJ in Moscow a lot, and they have really good vodka—but they keep it there.”

Background: Best Burger Bar, opened last month, serves this nod to the bygone Hilltop (and its neon cactus by incorporating prickly pear), which Cleve frequented with his family as a kid and later at company bashes for Stereo Jack’s, Cambridge’s used record store.

Elsewhere: Cleve fills the menu with his takes on old-school drinks that were staples of steakhouses, down to the once ubiquitous plastic stirrers. “I like classic cocktails, always have,” explains the local bartending legend. “Those were the first things I learned how to make back in the ’80s, when I was investigating all these old drinks that had pretty much disappeared from the planet, except at these old steakhouses.” At BBB, he gets around the usually questionable cosmopolitan cocktail by swapping cranberry juice for a cranberry-orange marmalade and taps a 1970s Playboy bar book for a daiquiri made with sesame syrup. Guests will also find a few Cleve originals, like an ode to Coolidge Corner deli Jack and Marion’s that features Cel-Ray soda.

A man’s gotta eat: The food menu’s stacked with dry-aged Angus beef patties—Cleve’s a fan of the Big Tex ($7.79) topped with bacon, barbecue sauce and onion rings—plus some sandwiches, wings and a Reuben hot dog.

Best Burger Bar 195 Washington St., Brookline (617-505-5320)

Best Burger Bar

195 Washington St., Brookline

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