A powerhouse hospitality group with ties to an acclaimed New York City cocktail bar will bring its flare to Boston to help open a cocktail bar called Sound Advice near North Station (135 Causeway St., Boston). Proprietors LLC — a consulting company whose members own Death & Co in New York City’s East Village, as well as a location in Denver and, as of December 31, in Los Angeles — is providing its cocktail prowess for Sound Advice, which will operate on the third level of the forthcoming Hub on Causeway development near TD Garden. Hospitality group Decurion, which is behind the ArcLight Cinemas, also at the Hub on Causeway, owns the bar.
Death & Co opened about 13 years ago, immediately making a name for itself with innovative craft cocktails and a cozy, speakeasy-style ambiance. It expanded to Denver in 2018, and it will soon add a Los Angeles location, but the expansion is hardly a copy-and-paste job: The team takes special care to ensure each bar has its own character and cocktail menu, and now in consulting on Sound Advice has resolved to do the same, according to partner Devon Tarby, who’s now based in LA but originally hails from Woburn, Massachusetts.
In addition to running its own collection of bars, Proprietors has also provided consulting services for several other bars around the country, including Nitecap and Lost Hours in New York City and Sparrow in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
It will do the same for Sound Advice in Boston, with the help of a familiar consulting bartender, Mary Bartlett, who will serve as beverage director, overseeing menu development and getting Sound Advice ready for opening. Bartlett has worked for Proprietors in the past, as well as for Ace Hotels, and she owns a gin company in LA. Bartlett and Tarby have built a stacked menu of cocktails that’s going through final tweaks now, ahead of a targeted opening in December.
“Number one, as a rule of thumb, we always make a strong effort to understand as much as we can about the market before we go about putting together a program,” Tarby told Eater. “There’s nothing worse than going into a market you don’t know and saying, ‘Here’s a New York-style cocktail program — you’re welcome.’ Even with the proliferation of craft cocktails across the country and a lot of similar drinks cropping up everywhere, no market’s the same.”
The cocktail menu broadly covers a few different categories, including some classic cocktails and “originals” made up of the group’s favorite cocktails that incorporate playful and sometimes seasonal ingredients, according to Bartlett.
“We’ll get to feature some cool local products,” she said. “I think one of the fun things the Proprietors team and myself have gotten to work on is getting into New England distillates. There are all these spirits that we don’t get out on the West Coast and that we haven’t gotten to play with, so we’re just trying to play around with some of those products in the form of classics.”
A few items on the menu lean into Boston’s seasonality, including cranberry infusions and a holiday cocktail that resembles eggnog but isn’t traditional.
“I think Boston’s quite a sophisticated market when it comes to cocktails,” Tarby said. “It’s a small community, but people have been exposed to a lot of esoteric ingredients and [have] kind of sophisticated flavor palates. So with that in mind, this was a particularly fun one, because we could stretch a little bit creatively; it wasn’t just simple riffs on classics, necessarily.”
Sound Advice will also serve some non-alcoholic cocktails that Bartlett said will actually feel like cocktails rather than juices, and there will be large-format beverages as well, some bottled and some closer to “sillier punch bowl options,” she said. Rounding out the bar will be beer selections — some local, some not — and a wine list that will lean in the direction of natural wines. Becky Reams, an LA-based chef, designed the snack menu that will be available at Sound Advice, and Patrick Brenner (a Tiger Mama alum) will serve as general manager.
The space is still under construction, but it will ultimately have lounge and banquette seating, plus a standing rail and about 15 stools at the bar.
“You can already kind of see the bones, and it’s very beautiful,” Bartlett said. The company behind the design, AAmp, is also designing the new Death & Co in Los Angeles. “There’s a lot of navy blue, a lot of different natural colors in there, and then we have little neon pops. To me, it feels like a very nice cocktail bar with a really beautiful view.”
If all goes as planned, Sound Advice will be opening in mid-November, perhaps the weekend before Thanksgiving, Bartlett said. (See update below.) The Proprietors team will be on hand to put the bartenders through an extensive training program to prepare for opening.
“Just looking at the view up there, and then starting to get to see these renderings come to life, I think it’s going to be a magical space, a place you would want to go to even if the offerings weren’t as high-quality as they are, just because that looks amazing,” Bartlett said. “Putting that all together, I feel very excited about what we’re doing.”
When Sound Advice opens, it will join an explosion of new drinking and dining options in Boston’s West End — and at the Hub on Causeway in particular. The giant mixed-use development will ultimately include three towers of office, residential, hotel, and retail space. In addition to several restaurants and nightlife venues, there will be a food hall, Hub Hall, full of 18 additional dining options; that’s opening early next year.
Stay tuned for updates on Sound Advice leading up to its opening.
Update, December 20, 2019: Sound Advice opens for a preview this weekend, December 21 and 22, at 4 p.m., followed by more of an official opening on December 26. (Prior mentions of the originally planned November timeline have been updated accordingly throughout the piece.) It will operate nightly from 4 p.m. until midnight (1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights).
This piece has also been updated to add a menu (see below) and photography of the now-completed space.
Here’s the opening menu: