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A narrow seating area inside a bar features blue velvet banquettes and chairs alongside black marble tables. A large, heavy curtain blocks a window.

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A Hidden Cocktail Bar Called Next Door Arrives in East Boston

Dramatically presented cocktails and seafood towers await behind a secret door within Italian restaurant Pazza on Porter

Next Door.

After finding one’s way into East Boston’s newest cocktail bar Next Door once it opens on March 24, 2022, one is likely to spot beverage director Josue Castillo setting a garnish on fire or carefully placing a flavor-packed smoke bubble atop a drink. Everything feels theatrical at Next Door, from the presentation of each cocktail to the heavy gilded curtain blocking passerbys’ views inside.

There are lots of little bits of whimsy, starting with just figuring out how to get into the place. (In order to preserve the fun, you’re on your own there.) There’s a cocktail that arrives in a locked treasure chest. There are the aforementioned smoke bubbles. It would be easy for a place like this to sway too gimmicky, but Next Door strikes the right balance: This is a serious cocktail bar with real care behind the menu. Castillo and the team are making all sorts of interesting syrups, bitters, clear ice, and other accoutrements in-house and really focusing on highlighting smaller labels, not the big-name liquor brands.

A blue-purple cocktail is in a Champagne glass and sits on a black marble table in front of a velvet blue banquette.
Blossom & Bubbles: Sipsmith gin, Faubourg 21 brut, blueberry lavender syrup, blue spirulina. It’s “pretty much a take on a French 75,” says Castillo, and it’s meant to be floral, fruity, fizzy, and refreshing. Pair with any of the seafood dishes.
A hand holds a culinary torch over a wooden cap atop an Old Fashioned Cocktail, producing smoke inside the glass.
Take Your Time: Michter’s rye whiskey, toasted sesame maple syrup and black walnut bitters, both made in-house, and applewood smoke. Next Door’s complex and nutty take on an Old Fashioned.

Billed as a “speakeasy and raw bar,” Next Door has a concise food menu owners Raffaele Scalzi and Mivan Spencer developed in conjunction with executive chef Stephen Ennamorati that focuses almost entirely on seafood: tartare, crudo, and ceviche; oysters and other raw bar items; caviar; and such. Beyond seafood, there’s a charcuterie board and steak tartare, plus a few desserts.

Overhead view of a plate featuring three long crispy plantain strips topped with rolls of raw salmon, garnished with capers.
Salmon crudo: cured salmon, chive cream cheese, salmon roe, crispy plantain, fried capers, and jalapeno.
A charcuterie board sits on a black marble bar top.
Next Door’s charcuterie selection includes options such as duck prosciutto, bresaola, truffle burrata, smoked gouda, and more.
Sliced octopus is piled up with shaved fennel and carrot, with a squiggle of dark balsamic glaze on the plate.
Octopus carpaccio: Spanish octopus, olive oil, citrus, shaved fennel, carrot, sweet balsamic glaze.
A layered tuna and avocado tartare sits on a bed of sliced cucumbers and is garnished with crispy wonton chips.
Tuna tartare: Yellowfin tuna layered with shredded mango and avocado.

As Scalzi told Eater in fall 2021 when the team first announced the project, the food menu is meant to be complementary to the cocktails; this is a cocktail bar with food, not a restaurant with cocktails. But all involved are quick to point out that it’s been a very collaborative project and team effort, with plans for the dishes and the drinks playing off of one another. Consider the Take Your Time cocktail, for example, which is Next Door’s take on an Old Fashioned. One ingredient is a toasted sesame seed maple syrup, which is meant to match the ahi tuna tacos served on toasted sesame wonton shells.

A pink-orange cocktail is topped with a lime skin on fire and pomegranate seeds.
In the Mood: Ramazzoti Rosato, Granada Vallet pomegranate liqueur, lime juice, simple syrup, soda water. A low-ABV option, In the Mood is meant to be light, refreshing, and a little bitter. Pair with the charcuterie or salmon crudo.
A yellow cocktail is topped with a big glossy globe of smoke. It sits on a black marble table with a fancy framed mirror in the background.
Citrus & Smoke: Four Roses bourbon, yellow chartreuse, Combier Liqueur d’Orange, lemon juice, citrus smoke bubble. Pair with the octopus carpaccio or tuna tartare.

Scalzi and Spencer opened Italian restaurant Pazza on Porter in East Boston in fall 2019; Scalzi is cofounder of the Boston Pizza Festival and co-owner of Casa Mia in Marblehead, and Spencer owns Caffe Dello Sport in Boston’s North End. When they found out that the space next door to Pazza was available, they decided to turn it into a bar, and thus the idea for Next Door was born. The goal was a speakeasy-inspired venue, at least in terms of the secretive entry and exclusive vibes, but the team didn’t want a bar that looked like an actual dark and gloomy Prohibition-era speakeasy. Designed by Boston-based Hacin + Associates, Next Door has lush blue banquettes and seats, marble surfaces, gold accents, and intricate lighting fixtures. More date night, less hiding from Prohibition agents.

A hand opens a small treasure chest to reveal a yellow cocktail in a cloud of smoke.
Lock & Key: Pineapple-infused Zaya 16-Year Rum, Sandeman Rainwater Madeira, pineapple juice, lime juice, coconut cream syrup, clarified whole milk. It’s a take on a pina colada featuring a clarified milk punch; “I like being a little geeky with my cocktails,” says Castillo.
A spherical glass punch bowl is filled with an icy cocktail garnished with a lime skin on fire, fresh limes, banana leaves, and more.
Castaway: Santa Teresa 1796 Solera Rum, Gonzalez Byass Nectar Pedro Ximenez Sherry, Joseph Cartron Banane Liqueur, charred cinnamon pineapple syrup, lime juice.

Next Door opens at 103 Porter Street, East Boston, on March 24; it will operate from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Thursday through Sunday. Find notes on the dress code and other pertinent details here and make a reservation here. Enter through Pazza on Porter at 107 Porter Street.

Pazza on Porter

107 Porter Street, , MA 02128 (617) 362-7663 Visit Website

Next Door (Boston)

103 Porter St., Boston, MA 02128 Visit Website
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