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The Hawthorne
The Hawthorne
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Essential Cocktail Bars in Boston

16 excellent drinking destinations

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The Hawthorne
| Official Site

Boston is historically a beer town, but over the past decade, cocktails have made a comeback. Naomi Levy, formerly bar manager of Eastern Standard, has witnessed the transition firsthand. She notes, "When I started here six years ago, if you made an egg drink in front of somebody, they'd be like 'Ew, what's that?' And now you make an egg drink in front of somebody, and they go 'Ooh, what's that?'"


Many Boston bartenders credit the now-defunct B-Side Lounge for reviving interest in craft cocktails. Joe McGuirk, bar manager at Highland Kitchen and formerly of B-Side Lounge – and an expert on Boston's cocktail culture – says, "I would argue that we're a leader in what's happening in the cocktail scene across the country. We're often there first. Places like Drink, Eastern Standard and the B-Side are kind of the trailblazers."


As Levy concludes, "The public has changed; we've preached the word of the cocktail and they've heard it." Below, a list of 16 of Boston's most noteworthy cocktail bars — with special thanks to McGuirk for his input.


Originally published October 12, 2015, as part of Cocktail Week 2015. Date of most recent update appears above.

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Known for its no-menu approach, Drink is one of Boston's most renowned craft cocktail bars. Established by Barbara Lynch in 2008, Drink has since become a must-imbibe stop on every cocktail lover's list.

Cal Bingham for Eater

Eastern Standard

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One of the first bars in Boston to put cocktails front and center, Eastern Standard remains an essential spot for anyone interested in masterfully crafted cocktails served with unparalleled hospitality. And because no mention of Eastern Standard would be complete without mentioning opening bar manager (and current beverage director) Jackson Cannon: Jackson Cannon.

Meg Jones Wall for Eater

No. 9 Park

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Pop by for an after-work drink and bask in No. 9's rosy glow. Nestled in Beacon Hill, No. 9 Park — Barbara Lynch's first restaurant — serves extraordinary cocktails in an equally dazzling environment.

Susie Cushner for No. 9 Park

The Hawthorne

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Hawthorne's cocktail bar/living room hybrid makes for cozy environs while sipping on some of the city's best beverage offerings. Jackson Cannon — both co-owner and beverage director — ensures that everything on the well-curated menu is interesting and unfussy.

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Backbar

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Often compared to a speakeasy, Sam Treadway's Backbar is reached only after wandering down an alley and then navigating a long hallway. This Somerville spot may be hard to find, but his innovative craft cocktails are easy to drink.

Silvertone

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One of the first cocktail-centric bars in Boston, Silvertone — opened in 1997 — is considered one of the most iconic. Helmed by Josh Childs for 17 years until he recently stepped down from bartending regularly, Silvertone remains an important part of the city's cocktail culture. (In July 2016, Silvertone came under new ownership; no major changes are expected.)

Rachel Leah Blumenthal for Eater

Green Street

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Credited as the home of the city's longest standing liquor license, Green Street has been a go-to for years. Originally opened in 1931 and most recently reopened under new ownership in 2006, this Central Square hangout is frequently cited by industry veterans as an essential beverage spot.

State Park

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A relative newcomer to the scene, State Park appeared in Kendall Square in December 2013 and has been adding its own flair to local cocktail culture ever since. Though it offers large format pitchers — and mini-pitchers — don't skip over its unique single-serving cocktails.

JM Curley

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This Downtown Crossing favorite offers a strong beer selection and an equally robust assortment of cocktails. The menu ranges from the classics — Manhattan, whiskey smash — to drinks with elderflower foam and xocolatl bitters, making it a frequent stop for cocktail fans.

A restaurant interior with a brick wall, a long bar, and red curtains Cal Bingham for Eater

Brick & Mortar

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Brick & Mortar's shiny, horseshoe-shaped bar ensures that wherever you stand in this compact Central Square space, you can see delicious drinks being made. Whether you can fight your way through the crowd to order one is another matter, but your effort will be rewarded with well-crafted, creative libations.

Alden & Harlow

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Alden & Harlow's farm-to-table food gets much acclaim, but its wildly innovative cocktails deserve accolades as well. Eastern Standard alum Seth Freidus deftly balances tradition with trying new things, incorporating ingredients like broccoli leaf, avocado, and pistachio into his quaffable one-of-a kind creations.

Meg Jones Wall for Eater

OAK Long Bar + Kitchen

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With its iconic martini-in-a-carafe, Oak Long Bar is a favorite for tourists and locals alike. The next time you find yourself parched while perusing Newbury Street, pull up a seat in this lavish cocktail destination located in the Fairmont Copley Plaza.

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Baldwin Bar at Sichuan Garden

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Although The Baldwin Bar is not in Boston, Ran Duan's thoughtful cocktails are worth the half-hour drive. No car? No need to worry. As word-of-mouth whispers have grown to shouts, Duan is reportedly considering opening a Boston location.

Café ArtScience

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One of the few — if not only — cocktail bars claiming to serve drinks with "sensorial design" in mind, this Kendall Square space wows not just with its stark white interior but its carefully composed cocktails. The idea for this restaurant was cooked up in Paris and Cambridge, lending its offerings a truly unique feel.

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Billed as a late-night gastropub, Shojo offers one of Boston's most innovative cocktail menus. Head to Chinatown to try some of its eye-catching creations — such as the Superhappyfunmakeagoodtimeagogo ("agogo for short"), a blend of Fernet Branca, creme de noyaux, whole egg, coconut milk, and absinthe.

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Trina's Starlite Lounge

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This Inman Square spot is committed to approachable craft cocktails that change seasonally, with the current lineup boasting drinks like Sweet T's Punch, described as Tainah & Tony's rotating barrel-aged punch, and Lady Danger, with bourbon, Campari, yellow Chartreuse, and guava. Trina's has been a favorite for years, and after sipping some of their cocktails you'll understand why.

Rachel Leah Blumenthal for Eater

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Drink

Cal Bingham for Eater

Known for its no-menu approach, Drink is one of Boston's most renowned craft cocktail bars. Established by Barbara Lynch in 2008, Drink has since become a must-imbibe stop on every cocktail lover's list.

Cal Bingham for Eater

Eastern Standard

Meg Jones Wall for Eater

One of the first bars in Boston to put cocktails front and center, Eastern Standard remains an essential spot for anyone interested in masterfully crafted cocktails served with unparalleled hospitality. And because no mention of Eastern Standard would be complete without mentioning opening bar manager (and current beverage director) Jackson Cannon: Jackson Cannon.

Meg Jones Wall for Eater

No. 9 Park

Susie Cushner for No. 9 Park

Pop by for an after-work drink and bask in No. 9's rosy glow. Nestled in Beacon Hill, No. 9 Park — Barbara Lynch's first restaurant — serves extraordinary cocktails in an equally dazzling environment.

Susie Cushner for No. 9 Park

The Hawthorne

Official Site

Hawthorne's cocktail bar/living room hybrid makes for cozy environs while sipping on some of the city's best beverage offerings. Jackson Cannon — both co-owner and beverage director — ensures that everything on the well-curated menu is interesting and unfussy.

Official Site

Backbar

Often compared to a speakeasy, Sam Treadway's Backbar is reached only after wandering down an alley and then navigating a long hallway. This Somerville spot may be hard to find, but his innovative craft cocktails are easy to drink.

Silvertone

Rachel Leah Blumenthal for Eater

One of the first cocktail-centric bars in Boston, Silvertone — opened in 1997 — is considered one of the most iconic. Helmed by Josh Childs for 17 years until he recently stepped down from bartending regularly, Silvertone remains an important part of the city's cocktail culture. (In July 2016, Silvertone came under new ownership; no major changes are expected.)

Rachel Leah Blumenthal for Eater

Green Street

Credited as the home of the city's longest standing liquor license, Green Street has been a go-to for years. Originally opened in 1931 and most recently reopened under new ownership in 2006, this Central Square hangout is frequently cited by industry veterans as an essential beverage spot.

State Park

A relative newcomer to the scene, State Park appeared in Kendall Square in December 2013 and has been adding its own flair to local cocktail culture ever since. Though it offers large format pitchers — and mini-pitchers — don't skip over its unique single-serving cocktails.

JM Curley

A restaurant interior with a brick wall, a long bar, and red curtains Cal Bingham for Eater

This Downtown Crossing favorite offers a strong beer selection and an equally robust assortment of cocktails. The menu ranges from the classics — Manhattan, whiskey smash — to drinks with elderflower foam and xocolatl bitters, making it a frequent stop for cocktail fans.

A restaurant interior with a brick wall, a long bar, and red curtains Cal Bingham for Eater

Brick & Mortar

Brick & Mortar's shiny, horseshoe-shaped bar ensures that wherever you stand in this compact Central Square space, you can see delicious drinks being made. Whether you can fight your way through the crowd to order one is another matter, but your effort will be rewarded with well-crafted, creative libations.

Alden & Harlow

Meg Jones Wall for Eater

Alden & Harlow's farm-to-table food gets much acclaim, but its wildly innovative cocktails deserve accolades as well. Eastern Standard alum Seth Freidus deftly balances tradition with trying new things, incorporating ingredients like broccoli leaf, avocado, and pistachio into his quaffable one-of-a kind creations.

Meg Jones Wall for Eater

OAK Long Bar + Kitchen