drinks b4 prezza?
I'm taking some business colleagues to dinner @ Prezza tomorrow night (lucky me!). I find the bar at prezza to be a bit dark and lacking energy - at least when I've been there. Wondering if the hounds have a suggestion for a more energetic place in the north end for drinks beforehand? I'm picking my guests up at the Marriott Longwharf and walking into the north end if that matters at all (hopefully it will be a little warmer tomorrow...)
I guess it depends on how old you are. Most of the bars in that area cater to singles in their early to mid 20s. The ones that aren't solely about draft beers, Red Bull/vodkas, and SoCo/limes offer kiddie versions of shaker drinks, best exemplified by The Living Room. That's a cocktail glass, alright, but what they're pouring into it is a boozy Slurpy or frappe or some other candy-flavored rookie junk. I wouldn't take a business group to any of them.
The North End is pitifully short on bars that can do real cocktails properly. Prezza has one of them, Lucca is the other best bet. The bar at Vinoteca di Monica is also respectable. I don't know about energy, but at least those people won't insult your intelligence with a shaker.
If you're willing to take a slight diversion (a few blocks but still walkable), consider Silvertone or Marliave, neighbors on Bromfield Street, with far better bartending than anything in the Quincy Market / Faneuil Hall area near your hotel. These places aren't stuffy, but they take their drinks seriously. Silvertone is reliably crowded; Marliave is new and still finding an audience.
If you are a hardcore old-school cocktail enthusiast, consider Drink over in South Boston (best to cab to there and from there to the North End). Incredible drinks, unique atmosphere, very new. Not to everyone's taste, but bound to make an impression if at least one of your party is the sort that knows how to make a Sazerac.
The Rowes Wharf bar (hidden upstairs) at the Boston Harbor Hotel has serious bartenders, but it's more of a quiet, classy hideaway.
The Inter-Continental has a couple of very lively, would-be upscale bars (Rumbar and Sushi-Teq), but the bartending at both is terrible, and it's also a frightening suburban meat-market scene on weekends.
I have friends that like the faux-preppie vibe at the waterfront Boston Sail Loft, which is right on your way, but I don't think much of it. Okay for a draft or a G&T if you don't mind a lot of boat shoes on people who don't actually sail.
Houston's is a chain restaurant in Quincy Market, two big strikes against it in my book, but it's not as terrible as it sounds, and might serve your purposes for location, suitability to a business group, and decent drinks.
I guess I've been less than wowed with Bacco's shaker drinks, though I've found it useful for a highball or glass of wine while waiting for a table at Terramia or Antico Forno. It would be useful to have a comprehensive list of places with full bars in the North End. Mine includes:
Places I like for their bartending: Prezza, Lucca, Vinoteca di Monica
Just okay: Bacco, Goody Glover's, Bricco
Bad: Florentine Cafe, Nebo
I'm not counting beer/wine or beer/wine/cordial only places.
I don't think any bars in that area are worth the extra walking in the cold. I'd either stick with Prezza or start out with apps and cocktails at Eastern Standard and take a cab to the North End from there. I haven't been to Drink yet. It sounds interesting, but beware there's no cocktail menu, so I'd only go there if you and your colleagues already know what you want, or if you want to spend time figuring out your perfect cocktail match with the bartenders.
Hmm, I was at the Prezza bar on a Tues. and it was pretty active, this was a couple months ago. I think the Lucca bar is fun. And not too far a walk away, the bar at KO Prime is usually pretty busy.
I have always found the bar at Prezza to be pretty lively but it might just be fun to move from drinks to dinner at different venues. While I can't vouch for the bar tending, the bar at Tresca, although small, seems to be a lively spot and is brighter than some of the others. There is good bar tending at Lucca as well.