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19 of the Boston Area’s Most Essential Bars

Cocktail destinations, beer bars, wine bars, and more

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Boston loves booze. From Irish pubs to high-end cocktail destinations, long-tenured dive bars to beer bars with extensive tap lists, sports bars with a million televisions to wine bars with a penchant for sherry, the city has it all.

To describe the most essential bars in and around Boston, one must consider all these categories; they all contribute to the city’s drinking scene in different but equally important ways. One person’s most essential bar is the classic neighborhood hangout around the corner with the free popcorn, while another person ranks the world-class cocktail lounge with a line around the block as the best in town.

In 19 points, this map aims to provide a starter guide to exploring this varied scene — one glass of beer or wine or liquor at a time — with a few caveats. Dive bars, Irish pubs, and sports bars do not appear on this map as they have their own dedicated maps (dives, pubs, sports). Also not included here: Bars under six months old (check out the Cocktail Heatmap instead); out-of-town chains; and the taprooms and tasting rooms of the many incredible breweries, cideries, and distilleries in the Boston area.

This map examines the rest — cozy sherry bars, wine nooks with a side of activism, high-end cocktail destinations, beer bars that serve moules frites, and more.

This map was originally published on July 25, 2017; it is updated periodically, and the date of the most recent update is above.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Spoke Wine Bar

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89 Holland St
Somerville, MA
(617) 718-9463
Visit Website

Davis Square’s beloved little wine bar shuttered in 2016 but reopened in 2017 under new ownership and a little bit of remodeling, still showcasing a lovely wine list (along with beer and cocktails) alongside a concise food menu of snacks and small plates. Go meet the new(ish) team and fall in love with Spoke again over a glass of orange wine and a plate of sunchoke doughnuts.

Interior view of a small restaurant and bar. A wall made of horizontal wood slats is in the foreground on the left, and the angle of the photo peers toward the sunlit front window. There’s a long bar on the left and a row of high-top tables on the right.
Spoke Wine Bar
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

2. Rebel Rebel

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1 Bow Market Way
Somerville, MA 02143

With a fight-ready name like Rebel Rebel, this tiny, feminist Somerville wine bar doesn’t shy away from activism, shouting its politics loud and clear. (Owner Lauren Friel even recently began “Mobilize Mondays,” where one day a week, the bar puts out tools — form letters, politicians’ contact information, and more — to help customers get their voices heard on a variety of issues.) Friel and her team pay plenty of attention to the actual wine, too, which is all natural and often small-batch, hard-to-find, or otherwise interesting. Grab a snack from any Bow Market food vendor (or a whole pizza — why not?) and sidle up to the Rebel Rebel bar to pair it with wine and rage against the patriarchy.

Shelves of wine bottles and a chalkboard menu inside a wine bar
Rebel Rebel
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

3. Backbar

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7 Sanborn Ct
Somerville, MA
(617) 718-0249
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In the heart of Union Square, down a hallway accessed from a driveway that leads into a back parking lot, Somerville’s hidden piece of cocktail heaven awaits. The supremely cozy-yet-trendy Backbar follows in Drink’s footsteps with bartenders ready to stir up a drink based on the drinker’s whim, but there’s also an ever-changing menu full of much to explore — not to mention the drink specials of the day and week, including a rotating milk punch.

The small food menu — courtesy of neighbor Field & Vine — fluctuates, but there’s sometimes a crispy chicken sandwich available (get that) as well as snacks like buttermilk ranch popcorn, spiced nuts, and a cheese plate.

A unique piece of bar glassware — a bluejay, with the head off to the side and a straw coming out of the body. Light wooden shelves of bottles are visible in the background.
Glassware at Backbar
Emily Phares/Eater

4. Casa B

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253 Washington St
Somerville, MA
(617) 764-2180
Visit Website

Casa B has always had a strong bar program; it was just hidden downstairs, below street level, at a tiny, intimate bar that stayed under the radar. In 2017, Casa B converted its street-level space, an auxiliary dining room, into an attractive rum bar, making it easier for passersby to realize that this is a drinking destination. The warm staff enthusiastically walks customers through rum flights and serves up spicy, fruity cocktails that pair nicely with the Caribbean-inspired small plates. (Try the smoky, fiery Bad Boy cocktail.)

A bright pink cocktail in a short glass is garnished with a lime wedge. It sits on a light wooden bar in front of a black background.
The Bad Boy cocktail at Casa B
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

5. Trina's Starlite Lounge

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3 Beacon St
Somerville, MA
(617) 576-0006
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Hot dogs, cocktails, and joy. This Inman Square joint has been serving up a perpetually delicious and approachable cocktail list for over a decade with drinks such as the Starlite cocktail (white rum, Parfait Amour, lemon, and bubbles) and the Fallen Angel (a spicy mango margarita with a barbecue dusted rim), along with a variety of craft beers. (Although some days just call for a big bucket o’ High Lifes.) Plus, the longstanding Monday brunch (also served on Sundays these days) is a good opportunity for day-drinking; there are options such as the Adirondack (butter-infused bourbon and maple syrup with optional chocolate-covered bacon), not to mention food like chicken and waffles, house-made pop tarts, and pizza bagels. Note: sibling and next-door neighbor Parlor Sports is one of the best sports bars in town.

A neighborhood bar with black and turquoise accents and various pieces of vintage signage
Trina’s Starlite Lounge
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

6. Lord Hobo

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92 Hampshire St
Cambridge, MA
(617) 250-8454
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Acclaimed Cambridge bar B-Side Lounge left big shoes to fill when it closed on Hampshire Street, but Lord Hobo took over the space in 2009 and has really made a mark on the neighborhood over the past decade-plus with a focus on craft beers. The lengthy draft list is always changing, highlighting plenty of beers from near and far — including Lord Hobo’s own brews. (Lord Hobo Brewing opened in Woburn in 2015 and is plotting a giant Boston expansion in the Seaport District.) There are numerous IPAs, sours, saisons, and much more available at any given time. There’s comfort food, too: steak frites, mac and cheese, poutine, and lots more.

Slightly blurry shot of a dark bar interior with lots of red accents. A line of taps and hanging beer glasses are visible in the image.
Lord Hobo
Sushiesque/Flickr (Creative Commons)

7. State Park

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One Kendall Sq. Bld. 300
Cambridge, MA
(617) 848-4355
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The sequel to the now-defunct Hungry Mother, State Park juxtaposes a dive bar-inspired vibe with excellent food, drink, and “amusements” (shuffle board, pool, etc.) Several cocktails are available in two pitcher sizes (Pimm’s Cups for everyone!), and there are also a number of shot-and-a-beer combos available. When it comes down to it, State Park is just plain fun.

A red-lit booth in a dark bar. A large neon Budweiser sign is on the wall behind it.
State Park
State Park/Instagram

8. Brick & Mortar

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569 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA
(617) 491-0061
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Located up above sister spot Central Kitchen in Cambridge’s Central Square, Brick & Mortar serves incredible cocktails in a dark, loud bar that tends to get crowded with industry and non-industry drinkers alike. Grab a seat, settle in, and order a burger — all worries will melt away. Keep an eye out for interesting glassware: VIPs may get to drink out of the special horse head mug, Ponies in the Surf.

Specialty bar glassware: a horse head with a pony head cozying up to it. A frozen cocktail and neon bendy straws are coming up out of the top. The glassware sits on a curved wooden bar with a brick wall in the background.
Ponies in the Surf glassware at Brick & Mortar
Emily Phares/Eater

9. Green Street

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280 Green St
Cambridge, MA
(617) 876-1655
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Hidden behind a nondescript interior, Green Street dates back all the way to 1931 and lays claim to holding the city’s longest standing liquor license. Reinvented as a cocktail destination in 2006 by B-Side Lounge alum Dylan Black, the restaurant and bar still manages to give off some of that old-school neighborhood-y vibe while serving excellent cocktails and seasonal, local food.

A view of a dark bar with illuminated bottles of liquor
Green Street
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

10. Haley.Henry

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45 Province St
Boston, MA
(617) 208-6000
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This intimate, convivial Downtown Crossing wine bar makes a lot out of a little bit of space. The tiny kitchen doesn’t allow for much cooking, so the focus is on fancy imported tinned seafood. (But the few items that are cooked are excellent.) The other star is the wine — unique finds from around the world, especially natural wines and wines from small producers. There are lots of half-bottles available, so the tasting possibilities are endless. Don’t miss its younger Fenway sibling, Nathálie, Eater Boston’s 2018 Bar of the Year.

The interior of an intimate wine bar that has a bit of a nautical vibe
Haley.Henry
Brian Samuels

11. Yvonne's

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2 Winter Place
Boston, MA
(617) 267-0047
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This swanky spot transformed the historic Locke-Ober space into a speakeasy of sorts; the entrance is through a hair salon, and the interior is dark and opulent, with showy pieces of artwork, lots of lounge-like seating, and a general vibe of exclusivity. The cocktail list is compelling, featuring a mix of classics and originals. Yvonne’s siblings — Ruka, Lolita, and Mariel — also make for intriguing drinking spots.

Interior shot of a swanky bar with dark wood, a muted color palette, and crystal chandeliers
Yvonne’s
Eric Levin

12. Drink

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348 Congress St
Boston, MA
(617) 695-1806
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A craft cocktail destination with plenty of beyond-Boston acclaim, Drink appeared in Fort Point in 2008, one of the driving forces behind the neighborhood’s evolution from warehouse zone to...well, it’s still warehouses, but now they’re filled with award-winning restaurants and bars. This subterranean bar is part of Barbara Lynch’s empire (and is conveniently located underneath one of her restaurants, Sportello, with another next door, Menton). Drink’s schtick is the lack of a drink list; customers discuss likes, dislikes, and their mood with their bartender, and voila, the perfect drink appears. It’s best to show up right at opening, ideally in the middle of the week, to avoid long lines and to be able to have more in-depth conversations with the bartenders. There’s food, too, including one of Boston’s essential burgers that at one time was a “secret.”

Interior shot of a sunlit garden-level bar with brick walls, silver metal stools, and a light wooden square-shaped bar.
Drink
Cal Bingham/Eater

13. Taberna de Haro and Straight Law

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999 Beacon St.
Boston, MA
(617) 277-8272
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This Brookline tapas restaurant, which opened in 1998, is known for its extensive and award-winning wine list, which exclusively features Spanish wines, including a huge selection of sherries. “Sherry is either utter miracle or pure science, depending on your faith,” writes owner Deborah Hansen on Taberna de Haro’s website. The Boston native spent eight years living in Spain, cultivating her obsession with the food and, perhaps more importantly, the wine. In 2014, Drink alums Will Thompson and Sean Sullivan helped give Taberna de Haro’s bar a bit of a rebirth, dubbing it Straight Law — named for a sherry-and-gin cocktail — and focusing on sherry- and gin-based cocktails.

A clear martini sits in an elegant small glass with a citrus peel
The Straight Law cocktail at Straight Law
Katie Stryjewski/Eater

14. Hojoko

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1271 Boylston St
Boston, MA
(617) 670-0507
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This high-energy izakaya comes from the team behind opulent sushi palace O Ya, but the two venues have vastly different vibes. Hojoko is boisterous and cheerful, with staffers in music t-shirts and the walls covered with pop culture knick-knacks. There’s an extensive sake list, including both cups and bottles, not to mention several varieties of sake bombs. And the cocktail selection ranges from frozen pina coladas to mai tais, not to mention large-format punches meant for four. Sit poolside if weather permits.

A colorful Japanese-inspired mural leads to the door of a restaurant with wooden signage reading “Hojoko.” There’s some greenery around the exterior.
Hojoko
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

15. Fool's Errand

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1377 Boylston St
Boston, MA 02215

With the energetic vibes of a Spanish tapas bar or a Venetian cicchetti-filled bacaro, Fool’s Errand is a standing-room-only “adult snack bar” with pretty cocktails and and small plates to match. It’s perfectly designed to be one of several stops in your evening — and owner Tiffani Faison’s other venues (Sweet Cheeks, Tiger Mama, and Orfano) are all mere steps away.

Closeup shot of a pink cocktail with a foamy top, garnished with pink and purple flowers
Painted Ladies cocktail at Fool’s Errand
Emily Kan

16. Wally's Cafe

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427 Massachusetts Ave
Boston, MA 02118
(617) 424-1408
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The only remaining jazz club of a bygone era in Boston, Wally’s has been around since the 1940s (located across the street from its current location until 1979). This cozy little bar is filled with live music every night of the year (including a jam session from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. every single night), showcasing students (Boston is crawling with talented music students) as well as professionals. The beer’s pretty cheap, and the mixed drinks are no-frills.

A plastic-covered cocktail menu, a small bottle of Crane Lake Brut, and a pint glass filled with a pink cocktail sit on a table.
No-frills cocktails complement the live music at Wally’s
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

17. The Publick House

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1648 Beacon St
Brookline, MA
(617) 277-2880
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Those seeking a lengthy beer list packed full of truly special gems should make their way to the Publick House in Brookline, a Washington Square spot that has been kicking around since 2002, racking up awards and long lines. The beer list focuses on Belgium and Germany, but there are plenty of other options as well. Hungry customers can choose from a substantial amount of comfort food, including four beer-infused mussel preparations (served with fries, of course). Reservations are available for both indoor and (heated) outdoor seating here.

Black and white photo of tap handles at a bar
Publick House
Publick House/Official Site

18. Blossom Bar

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295 Washington St
Brookline, MA 02445
(617) 734-1870
Visit Website

Ran Duan and his team have won a lot of cocktail awards over the past few years. In early 2018, they transformed Duan’s family’s Sichuan Garden location in Brookline into Blossom Bar, a follow-up to Woburn hot spot Baldwin Bar (located inside the other Sichuan Garden). While Baldwin Bar continues to be worth the trip out to Woburn, Blossom Bar is a gem for those closer to Brookline, pairing intricate, tropical-inspired cocktails with fiery Sichuan food and some American-Chinese classics. Coming up next, another bar: Ivory Pearl.

A boozy dole whip sits in a Blossom Bar branded glass, with a pineapple in the background
Boozy Dole whip at Blossom Bar
Blossom Bar [Official Photo]

19. The Haven

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2 Perkins St
Boston, MA
(617) 524-2836
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Boston’s “Scottish headquarters” spent its first few years of existence without a full liquor license, making things work well enough with an outstanding selection of almost exclusively Scottish beers and ciders — but one thing was missing. Whisky. The Haven has since acquired its full license and is now showcasing whisky from all over Scotland. The bar and restaurant also serves Scottish food — including haggis — and hosts numerous events, including live music, game watches, and tastings.

Interior of the Haven, a Scottish restaurant in Boston’s Jamaica Plain, featuring an antler chandelier and simple tables and chairs.
The Haven
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

1. Spoke Wine Bar

89 Holland St, Somerville, MA
Interior view of a small restaurant and bar. A wall made of horizontal wood slats is in the foreground on the left, and the angle of the photo peers toward the sunlit front window. There’s a long bar on the left and a row of high-top tables on the right.
Spoke Wine Bar
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Davis Square’s beloved little wine bar shuttered in 2016 but reopened in 2017 under new ownership and a little bit of remodeling, still showcasing a lovely wine list (along with beer and cocktails) alongside a concise food menu of snacks and small plates. Go meet the new(ish) team and fall in love with Spoke again over a glass of orange wine and a plate of sunchoke doughnuts.

89 Holland St
Somerville, MA

2. Rebel Rebel

1 Bow Market Way, Somerville, MA 02143
Shelves of wine bottles and a chalkboard menu inside a wine bar
Rebel Rebel
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

With a fight-ready name like Rebel Rebel, this tiny, feminist Somerville wine bar doesn’t shy away from activism, shouting its politics loud and clear. (Owner Lauren Friel even recently began “Mobilize Mondays,” where one day a week, the bar puts out tools — form letters, politicians’ contact information, and more — to help customers get their voices heard on a variety of issues.) Friel and her team pay plenty of attention to the actual wine, too, which is all natural and often small-batch, hard-to-find, or otherwise interesting. Grab a snack from any Bow Market food vendor (or a whole pizza — why not?) and sidle up to the Rebel Rebel bar to pair it with wine and rage against the patriarchy.

1 Bow Market Way
Somerville, MA 02143

3. Backbar

7 Sanborn Ct, Somerville, MA
A unique piece of bar glassware — a bluejay, with the head off to the side and a straw coming out of the body. Light wooden shelves of bottles are visible in the background.
Glassware at Backbar
Emily Phares/Eater

In the heart of Union Square, down a hallway accessed from a driveway that leads into a back parking lot, Somerville’s hidden piece of cocktail heaven awaits. The supremely cozy-yet-trendy Backbar follows in Drink’s footsteps with bartenders ready to stir up a drink based on the drinker’s whim, but there’s also an ever-changing menu full of much to explore — not to mention the drink specials of the day and week, including a rotating milk punch.

The small food menu — courtesy of neighbor Field & Vine — fluctuates, but there’s sometimes a crispy chicken sandwich available (get that) as well as snacks like buttermilk ranch popcorn, spiced nuts, and a cheese plate.

7 Sanborn Ct
Somerville, MA

4. Casa B

253 Washington St, Somerville, MA
A bright pink cocktail in a short glass is garnished with a lime wedge. It sits on a light wooden bar in front of a black background.
The Bad Boy cocktail at Casa B
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Casa B has always had a strong bar program; it was just hidden downstairs, below street level, at a tiny, intimate bar that stayed under the radar. In 2017, Casa B converted its street-level space, an auxiliary dining room, into an attractive rum bar, making it easier for passersby to realize that this is a drinking destination. The warm staff enthusiastically walks customers through rum flights and serves up spicy, fruity cocktails that pair nicely with the Caribbean-inspired small plates. (Try the smoky, fiery Bad Boy cocktail.)

253 Washington St
Somerville, MA

5. Trina's Starlite Lounge

3 Beacon St, Somerville, MA
A neighborhood bar with black and turquoise accents and various pieces of vintage signage
Trina’s Starlite Lounge
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Hot dogs, cocktails, and joy. This Inman Square joint has been serving up a perpetually delicious and approachable cocktail list for over a decade with drinks such as the Starlite cocktail (white rum, Parfait Amour, lemon, and bubbles) and the Fallen Angel (a spicy mango margarita with a barbecue dusted rim), along with a variety of craft beers. (Although some days just call for a big bucket o’ High Lifes.) Plus, the longstanding Monday brunch (also served on Sundays these days) is a good opportunity for day-drinking; there are options such as the Adirondack (butter-infused bourbon and maple syrup with optional chocolate-covered bacon), not to mention food like chicken and waffles, house-made pop tarts, and pizza bagels. Note: sibling and next-door neighbor Parlor Sports is one of the best sports bars in town.

3 Beacon St
Somerville, MA

6. Lord Hobo

92 Hampshire St, Cambridge, MA
Slightly blurry shot of a dark bar interior with lots of red accents. A line of taps and hanging beer glasses are visible in the image.
Lord Hobo
Sushiesque/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Acclaimed Cambridge bar B-Side Lounge left big shoes to fill when it closed on Hampshire Street, but Lord Hobo took over the space in 2009 and has really made a mark on the neighborhood over the past decade-plus with a focus on craft beers. The lengthy draft list is always changing, highlighting plenty of beers from near and far — including Lord Hobo’s own brews. (Lord Hobo Brewing opened in Woburn in 2015 and is plotting a giant Boston expansion in the Seaport District.) There are numerous IPAs, sours, saisons, and much more available at any given time. There’s comfort food, too: steak frites, mac and cheese, poutine, and lots more.

92 Hampshire St
Cambridge, MA

7. State Park

One Kendall Sq. Bld. 300, Cambridge, MA
A red-lit booth in a dark bar. A large neon Budweiser sign is on the wall behind it.
State Park
State Park/Instagram

The sequel to the now-defunct Hungry Mother, State Park juxtaposes a dive bar-inspired vibe with excellent food, drink, and “amusements” (shuffle board, pool, etc.) Several cocktails are available in two pitcher sizes (Pimm’s Cups for everyone!), and there are also a number of shot-and-a-beer combos available. When it comes down to it, State Park is just plain fun.

One Kendall Sq. Bld. 300
Cambridge, MA

8. Brick & Mortar

569 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA
Specialty bar glassware: a horse head with a pony head cozying up to it. A frozen cocktail and neon bendy straws are coming up out of the top. The glassware sits on a curved wooden bar with a brick wall in the background.
Ponies in the Surf glassware at Brick & Mortar
Emily Phares/Eater

Located up above sister spot Central Kitchen in Cambridge’s Central Square, Brick & Mortar serves incredible cocktails in a dark, loud bar that tends to get crowded with industry and non-industry drinkers alike. Grab a seat, settle in, and order a burger — all worries will melt away. Keep an eye out for interesting glassware: VIPs may get to drink out of the special horse head mug, Ponies in the Surf.

569 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA

9. Green Street

280 Green St, Cambridge, MA
A view of a dark bar with illuminated bottles of liquor
Green Street
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

Hidden behind a nondescript interior, Green Street dates back all the way to 1931 and lays claim to holding the city’s longest standing liquor license. Reinvented as a cocktail destination in 2006 by B-Side Lounge alum Dylan Black, the restaurant and bar still manages to give off some of that old-school neighborhood-y vibe while serving excellent cocktails and seasonal, local food.

280 Green St
Cambridge, MA

10. Haley.Henry

45 Province St, Boston, MA
The interior of an intimate wine bar that has a bit of a nautical vibe
Haley.Henry
Brian Samuels

This intimate, convivial Downtown Crossing wine bar makes a lot out of a little bit of space. The tiny kitchen doesn’t allow for much cooking, so the focus is on fancy imported tinned seafood. (But the few items that are cooked are excellent.) The other star is the wine — unique finds from around the world, especially natural wines and wines from small producers. There are lots of half-bottles available, so the tasting possibilities are endless. Don’t miss its younger Fenway sibling, Nathálie, Eater Boston’s 2018 Bar of the Year.

45 Province St
Boston, MA

11. Yvonne's

2 Winter Place, Boston, MA
Interior shot of a swanky bar with dark wood, a muted color palette, and crystal chandeliers
Yvonne’s
Eric Levin

This swanky spot transformed the historic Locke-Ober space into a speakeasy of sorts; the entrance is through a hair salon, and the interior is dark and opulent, with showy pieces of artwork, lots of lounge-like seating, and a general vibe of exclusivity. The cocktail list is compelling, featuring a mix of classics and originals. Yvonne’s siblings — Ruka, Lolita, and Mariel — also make for intriguing drinking spots.

2 Winter Place
Boston, MA

12. Drink

348 Congress St, Boston, MA
Interior shot of a sunlit garden-level bar with brick walls, silver metal stools, and a light wooden square-shaped bar.
Drink
Cal Bingham/Eater

A craft cocktail destination with plenty of beyond-Boston acclaim, Drink appeared in Fort Point in 2008, one of the driving forces behind the neighborhood’s evolution from warehouse zone to...well, it’s still warehouses, but now they’re filled with award-winning restaurants and bars. This subterranean bar is part of Barbara Lynch’s empire (and is conveniently located underneath one of her restaurants, Sportello, with another next door, Menton). Drink’s schtick is the lack of a drink list; customers discuss likes, dislikes, and their mood with their bartender, and voila, the perfect drink appears. It’s best to show up right at opening, ideally in the middle of the week, to avoid long lines and to be able to have more in-depth conversations with the bartenders. There’s food, too, including one of Boston’s essential burgers that at one time was a “secret.”

348 Congress St
Boston, MA

13. Taberna de Haro and Straight Law

999 Beacon St., Boston, MA
A clear martini sits in an elegant small glass with a citrus peel
The Straight Law cocktail at Straight Law
Katie Stryjewski/Eater

This Brookline tapas restaurant, which opened in 1998, is known for its extensive and award-winning wine list, which exclusively features Spanish wines, including a huge selection of sherries. “Sherry is either utter miracle or pure science, depending on your faith,” writes owner Deborah Hansen on Taberna de Haro’s website. The Boston native spent eight years living in Spain, cultivating her obsession with the food and, perhaps more importantly, the wine. In 2014, Drink alums Will Thompson and Sean Sullivan helped give Taberna de Haro’s bar a bit of a rebirth, dubbing it Straight Law — named for a sherry-and-gin cocktail — and focusing on sherry- and gin-based cocktails.

999 Beacon St.
Boston, MA

14. Hojoko

1271 Boylston St, Boston, MA
A colorful Japanese-inspired mural leads to the door of a restaurant with wooden signage reading “Hojoko.” There’s some greenery around the exterior.
Hojoko
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

This high-energy izakaya comes from the team behind opulent sushi palace O Ya, but the two venues have vastly different vibes. Hojoko is boisterous and cheerful, with staffers in music t-shirts and the walls covered with pop culture knick-knacks. There’s an extensive sake list, including both cups and bottles, not to mention several varieties of sake bombs. And the cocktail selection ranges from frozen pina coladas to mai tais, not to mention large-format punches meant for four. Sit poolside if weather permits.

1271 Boylston St
Boston, MA

15. Fool's Errand

1377 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02215
Closeup shot of a pink cocktail with a foamy top, garnished with pink and purple flowers
Painted Ladies cocktail at Fool’s Errand
Emily Kan

With the energetic vibes of a Spanish tapas bar or a Venetian cicchetti-filled bacaro, Fool’s Errand is a standing-room-only “adult snack bar” with pretty cocktails and and small plates to match. It’s perfectly designed to be one of several stops in your evening — and owner Tiffani Faison’s other venues (Sweet Cheeks, Tiger Mama, and Orfano) are all mere steps away.

1377 Boylston St
Boston, MA 02215

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16. Wally's Cafe

427 Massachusetts Ave, Boston, MA 02118
A plastic-covered cocktail menu, a small bottle of Crane Lake Brut, and a pint glass filled with a pink cocktail sit on a table.
No-frills cocktails complement the live music at Wally’s
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

The only remaining jazz club of a bygone era in Boston, Wally’s has been around since the 1940s (located across the street from its current location until 1979). This cozy little bar is filled with live music every night of the year (including a jam session from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. every single night), showcasing students (Boston is crawling with talented music students) as well as professionals. The beer’s pretty cheap, and the mixed drinks are no-frills.

427 Massachusetts Ave
Boston, MA 02118

17. The Publick House

1648 Beacon St, Brookline, MA
Black and white photo of tap handles at a bar
Publick House
Publick House/Official Site

Those seeking a lengthy beer list packed full of truly special gems should make their way to the Publick House in Brookline, a Washington Square spot that has been kicking around since 2002, racking up awards and long lines. The beer list focuses on Belgium and Germany, but there are plenty of other options as well. Hungry customers can choose from a substantial amount of comfort food, including four beer-infused mussel preparations (served with fries, of course). Reservations are available for both indoor and (heated) outdoor seating here.

1648 Beacon St
Brookline, MA

18. Blossom Bar

295 Washington St, Brookline, MA 02445
A boozy dole whip sits in a Blossom Bar branded glass, with a pineapple in the background
Boozy Dole whip at Blossom Bar
Blossom Bar [Official Photo]

Ran Duan and his team have won a lot of cocktail awards over the past few years. In early 2018, they transformed Duan’s family’s Sichuan Garden location in Brookline into Blossom Bar, a follow-up to Woburn hot spot Baldwin Bar (located inside the other Sichuan Garden). While Baldwin Bar continues to be worth the trip out to Woburn, Blossom Bar is a gem for those closer to Brookline, pairing intricate, tropical-inspired cocktails with fiery Sichuan food and some American-Chinese classics. Coming up next, another bar: Ivory Pearl.

295 Washington St
Brookline, MA 02445

19. The Haven

2 Perkins St, Boston, MA
Interior of the Haven, a Scottish restaurant in Boston’s Jamaica Plain, featuring an antler chandelier and simple tables and chairs.
The Haven
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Boston’s “Scottish headquarters” spent its first few years of existence without a full liquor license, making things work well enough with an outstanding selection of almost exclusively Scottish beers and ciders — but one thing was missing. Whisky. The Haven has since acquired its full license and is now showcasing whisky from all over Scotland. The bar and restaurant also serves Scottish food — including haggis — and hosts numerous events, including live music, game watches, and tastings.

2 Perkins St
Boston, MA

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