Massachusetts may not have the biggest reputation for a buzzing and innovative nightlife, but visitors to Boston will be pleasantly surprised. It is, in fact, a hot spot for lively pubs, clubs and sophisticated bars. True to the colorful history and culture within Boston's city limits, options for a good pre-dinner aperitif, a post-dinner digestif or skip-dinner-altogether liquid sustenance are many and varied. From the student-friendly, vibrant club scene on Boston's (in)famous Lansdowne Street to the trendy bars of South End and the cozy pubs in the Harvard Square area, a cocktail crawl of Boston will afford exploratory tourists a comprehensive overview of the city. Of course, a full overview might be prohibitively indulgent so we've narrowed it down to these five best cocktail bars in Boston.
A romantic, warm and welcoming ambience at Eastern Standard is the perfect setting for a classic cocktail. Vermouth, Bourbon and bitters dominate the sumptuous cocktail list, while the seasonal cocktail menu deviates from the classic fashion to offer some more uniquely blended house specials. These are thoughtfully crafted and memorable cocktails from passionate and talented bar staff, and are a relative steal at around $10 apiece. If all these delectable cocktails have you working up an appetite, the food menu here is equally well-rounded, gourmet and reasonably priced.
Approachable, friendly and knowledgeable mixologists make this the perfect cocktail bar for rookies and connoisseurs alike. Fresh, house-made syrups and juices compliment the creative and perfectly-crafted combinations of spirits and bubbly. Perfectly situated in The South End, Drink sets itself apart from the crowd of hip, craft cocktail spots – which tend to dominate the fashionable bar scene – with its welcoming atmosphere and a lack of pretension. If you're overwhelmed by choice here, put your faith in one of the expert bar staff to advise and devise the perfect cocktail for your tastes.
Another South End favourite, foodies will love The Gallows. While it's perfect for drinks – dimly lit, plenty of wood panelling and a more audacious drinks cabinet than the thirstiest mind could imagine – the gastro-pub style menu means this is a reliable cocktail-and-dinner stop. If you need persuading, perhaps we should mention they've been known to serve a Bacon Caramel Chew Mix and poutine. Perfect for the midnight munchies after you've indulged in a few of the superior mix drinks from the Gallows' booze menu.
The Hawthorne, in Kenmore Square, is a uniquely styled, distinctly upmarket bar. You might feel like you've been invited to a very posh house party, or you might feel like you've stumbled into an exclusive club on New York's Upper East Side. Either way, anyone who appreciates a great cocktail and enjoys cozy sofas (so, basically, everyone) will fall in love with The Hawthorne. A long bar and smartly uniformed bar staff bring you classic cocktails with a personalised twist. The menu changes regularly, and while the cocktails may not be as varied and creative as some other spots in Boston, The Hawthorne scores top points on ambience and quality.
Backbar has largely relied on word of mouth to garner the reputation as one of the best bars in the Boston area. Located in Somerville's Union Square, it's tucked away behind an unassuming red door in a cute red brick building. The interior is as elite-feeling and cozy as the hard-to-find entrance would suggest, with long, low-lying sofas and a daily chalkboard menu. The speakeasy vibe allows for an intimate drinks evening, and the perfectly-mixed, generous cocktails encourage revellers to settle in for the evening. This one is well worth exploring a little outside of Boston's city limits.