Similar to Boston’s architecture, today’s best cocktail bars in the city mix old-school flair with modern taste, creating innovative concoctions influenced by the ingredients of yesteryear.
Much of Boston’s booze scene is inspired by a bygone era when speakeasies reigned supreme due to Prohibition laws of the 1920s. Even the libation destinations that skew more towards modern mixtures and contemporary atmospheres still utilize traditional secrets of the trade. Check out these cocktail bars in Beantown for a bit of Gilded-Age history, countless creative concoctions and unusual ingredients that are sure to make your taste buds dance.
Co-owned by Boston legends Jarek Mountain (Back Bar Harry’s and Abby Lane) and Ken Casey (frontman of the Dropkick Murphys – famously known for the song ‘Shipping Up to Boston’), Lion’s Tail is another of the South End’s best speakeasy-style watering holes. Named for Mountain’s favorite Prohibition-era beverage, the Lion’s Tail drink menu is straight from the pages of your treasured (adult) storybook, with adventurous and whimsical drink options featuring curious flavors and enticing ingredients. On certain Wednesdays, Lion’s Tail hosts a version of #WCW, featuring female bartenders from all around Boston who will shake things up for the night and donate a portion of the evening’s proceeds to the charity of their choice.
A swanky speakeasy in the heart of Downtown Crossing, Yvonne’s exudes an elegant aesthetic from a bygone era. The gold-gilded decor and antique chandeliers transport you back to a time of feather dresses and pinstripe suits, while the exposed-brick walls of the underground venue give the feel of the best-kept secret in town. Once the site of the iconic Locke-Ober restaurant, the space became a landmark known for its elite clientele and discreet Gatsby-esque parties over 150 years ago. Make reservations to enjoy cocktails with dinner in the library room. Alternatively, grab a seat at the dramatic high-top bar to sip on worldly wine and clever cocktails by the glass or from a large crystal bowl to share.
A rotating menu of craft cocktails called “The Bookmark” will keep you guessing each time you visit The Hawthorne. Located in Kenmore Square, the bar combines comfort and elegance in its aesthetic, complete with communal tables as well as more intimate settings with plush couches and cozy chairs. During the summer months, take your beverage to the patio for Swizzle Sundays, where guest bartenders and all-stars in the industry create a tiki-inspired cocktail party until sundown. If you want to try being a bartender for a day, The Hawthorne offers mixology classes and seminars to master the perfect concoction.
Don’t be surprised to spot a celebrity or two while sipping on craft cocktails at the iconic Eastern Standard. Both stars and residents flock to this modern-day French brasserie for its delectable cuisine and creative drinks. Its lengthy beverage list features Eastern Standard originals, classics and seasonal selections to surprise you with new flavors each time you visit. Jackson Cannon, the owner of The Hawthorne, is behind this delicious list of adult drinks. Make sure to stop by both locations to sample the innovative inspirations of one of Boston’s best bar directors.
There’s one thing that sets Drink apart from the rest of Boston’s best cocktail joints – there are no menus. General manager Ezra Star doesn’t want to limit her drink list to a few pages. Instead, the possibilities are endless. Your mixologist for the night invites you to take a chance with your taste buds. Feel free to chat with the bartender and give an idea of your cocktail flavor profile. Do you like something sweet? Maybe a bit stronger? Perhaps with a hint of spice? Whatever you’re craving, the booze specialists at Drink have something up their sleeves to make sure you leave satisfied.
While technically a global tapas restaurant in Cambridge’s Central Square, it would be remiss not to mention the exotic cocktails of Little Donkey. Its drinks feature ingredients from Ireland to Asia and everywhere in between. Transport yourself to an island with the Castaway or enjoy a taste of Japan with the Kyoto Kreamsicle. Curious to sample a classic Bostonian concoction? If a little seafood with your spirits sounds intriguing, sample the area’s local oysters prepared in a shooter with your choice of alcohol, bloody mary mix and lime. After a few of these wanderlust-inspired libations, you’ll feel as though you’ve traveled around the world and back again without ever leaving your barstool.