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Jan 15, 2008 07:12 PM

After No. 9 Park Cocktails

Evening, hounds.

I just discoverd this site a few days ago and it has MORE than answered most of my questions when it comes to planning a night on the town for my boyfriend's 40th birthday. However, I'm getting down to the nitty-gritty and I need some informed opinions!

We're starting the night with an Absinthe tasting and dinner at No. 9 Park -- clearly a Chowhound favorite. Now, I just need to find a great place for after dinner cocktails. I was thinking the Cava Lounge at the Ivy might be ideal; however, I just don't know enough about the bar/lounge scene in Boston to be sure.

I'm ideally looking for a schwanky yet not-too-stuffy and not-too-crowded lounge with great ambiance and service within walking distance of No. 9. A great martini list and super selection of beers are always pluses.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. I can't imagine leaving the bar at No. 9 to go somewhere else for cocktails. Certainly nothing within walking distance comes close to it for bartending. The lounge scene in Boston is pretty weak, besides. I've experienced very poor bartending at Ivy.

    To avoid too big a step down, I might try the bar at the Four Seasons (use the bar outside Aujourd'hui if the Bristol is still closed), The Taj, or XV Beacon (Mooo....).

    Other bars I like nearby with quality bartending: Silvertone (quite casual) and Locke-Ober (a bit stuffy).

    Another rung down would be the bars at Scollay Square (handsome room, often quiet), Parker's or The Last Hurrah at the Parker House, Nine Zero (KO Prime), Radius, The Good Life (huge vodka bar downstairs), Excelsior (usually a scene), the Park Plaza (Bonfire), or Via Matta.

    4 Replies
    1. re: MC Slim JB

      I was going to suggest the bar at KO Prime, it's usually pretty fun there and a 2 min walk from No. 9 (and if you're talking this weekend, you don't want to be out too long in the cold). Excelsior seems to be fairly quiet lately but I like it there.

      1. re: MC Slim JB

        I'm with MC Slim JB. I wouldn't leave No. 9 Park after dinner. Their bar/bartender is hard to beat and if you enjoy cheese, share a cheese plate and linger over desert wine, or sample some of the golden nectars - cognacs, brandies, etc. - that they offer. The Bristol would be my second choice if it is open. After that I would pile people into cabs and head for the Oak Bar if classic cocktails and comfortable seating are your goal. They have great French 75s and Sidecars.

        1. re: vonwotan

          Bristol re-opens after the weekend.

          1. re: heathermb

            The Bristol reopens on Tuesday the 22nd.

      2. My first reaction was why leave No. 9 as well, but I can understand wanting a change of venue. Besides the options already mentioned you might want to check out the Oak Room for drinks (at the Fairmont Copley Hotel on St. James St-not too far). Some may consider this stuffy, but I kinda enjoy the "Old School" ambience For the type of night you are planning, you may want to try the Cava Lounge on a different occasion.

        9 Replies
        1. re: Food4Thought

          Wow. So many options! Cava Lounge is cleary out this go 'round.

          Now I feel bad about planning to leave No. 9; but, as F4T mentioned it's a) simply for change of venue and b) because the party will grow in numbers and, by default, volume.

          1. re: cquinn

            What about going over to the bar at Mooo afterwards? They have tables in their lounge in the bar area, bartenders are excellent, and the bar scene is lively but not usually packed. Would be my first choice.

            1. re: CulinaryCat

              I've looked into Mooo; but, I can't tell if it's more of a restaurant or more of a bar. Is it condusive to mingling? I'd love to know more.

              An example: for my birthday, we went to City Bar in the Lenox after a nice tapas meal at Bar Lola. Not only did the layout work for our twenty person strong crowd -- we were able to move around easily without having to worry about too many chairs or too many patrons getting in our way -- but we also found the bartenders to be very attentive and quick to make a mean cocktail. I think we're on the hunt for the same vibe.

              I looked into many of the suggestions noted above -- thanks, MC Slim for so many -- and I have more questions. What's the general consensus on The Goodlife? Is it usually packed? What about Whiskey Park in the Park Plaza?

              1. re: cquinn

                Mooo.... was formerly The Federalist. They've opened it up a little, but there is still a distinctly separate bar area, not huge.

                In my experience since it last changed hands and brought on a new, very good chef, the Good Life crowd varies by night of the week. Sometimes it's a Financial District after-work crowd, sometimes a younger singles scene, sometimes a DJ night with more of a nightclub crowd (like this coming Friday). The first-floor bar is usually calmer, more adult, with the downstairs Afterlife (the wall o' vodka bar) generally a bit wilder.

                Whiskey Park hires bartenders for their looks, not their skills, and they are cute. Consider yourself warned.

                1. re: MC Slim JB

                  Thanks for the glimpse into the Good Life AND for the warning about Whiskey Park! I dunno, though. Slow but hot bartenders may get a pass with this crowd. How would you classify the space at Whiskey?

                  Switching gears: anyone have thoughts about Radius or Bonfire at the Park Plaza. Tending skills? Atmosphere? Space?

                  I feel I'm nearing the end of my least I hope I am!

                  1. re: cquinn

                    The space at Whiskey Park can be described as "1970s Ultra Modern" (Spherical lamps, mirrored fixtures, "plush" couches). Lounge-y layout (low couches). It gets packed on weekends. Younger crowd for the most part.

                    Has anyone suggested Excelsior yet?

                    1. re: cquinn

                      Whiskey Park's bartenders are not just slow: they are probably the worst hacks to ever serve me a $14 drink in a cocktail glass. (I did mention Excelsior's bar above.)

                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                        I'm with Slim, nothing worse than a drink that's expensive AND crappy. Very hard to follow No.9 -- certainly not with Whiskey Park.

                        1. re: veeva

                          Veeva -- Say you DID have to follow No. 9. Where would you go?

          2. If it's just the two of you and you need a place to chill with a crowd later, might I suggest dropping ten bucks on a taxi and hitting Eastern Standard, which has great cocktails? Or, for a more casual night, maybe the Beehive? Both can serve a crowd and countdown to ES off-season is only a few months now!

            I don't find Radius to be a great bar to hang out in. I love the food, but if there is a crowd I get the feeling that they're movers and shakers on the make, with emphasis on the make.