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Comprehensive Chowish Craft Cocktail Compendium '09

finlero Jan 15, 2009 07:57 AM

The holidays are over, the economy is in the toilet, the weather outside is frightful…seems like a good time to get serious about heavy drinking.

I have a list of places I feel I can rely on for great cocktail craft, but I thought it might be interesting to put together a comprehensive list of our favorite spots around town for serious cocktails, what we like, what we don't like...

A few examples on my side of the river:

-- Green Street --

Pluses: great vibe, going there always makes me feel in-the-know, solid upscale comfort food that never seems pretentious.

Minuses: the food falls just short of greatness, so I'm always a little bummed I didn't go to Baraka Cafe for dinner before grabbing drinks.

Favorite drinks: pisco sour (with frothed egg white!), aviation, Toronto.

-- Chez Henri --

Pluses: stellar bar menu, especially the Cuban sandwiches.

Minuses: the non-Cuban cocktails have generally underwhelmed me, the bar area is pretty tiny so it can get crowded and deafening.

Favorite drinks: mojito, periodista.

How about YOU?

  1. yumyum Jan 15, 2009 08:04 AM

    Hey, I like drinking, I like you. Why not!

    Highland Kitchen is doing some very good cocktailery. Not up to the Green Street standards, but very good for a neighborhood spot. They do a nice winter warmer, and can also do interesting non-alcoholic drinks which is good to know.

    Gargoyles (Paul and Maureen) also do some very good drinks. Maureen's sangria is great, and there is an infused bourbon that one of my houndly friends likes a great deal.

    13 Replies
    1. re: yumyum
      finlero Jan 15, 2009 08:45 AM

      Hey, I like you too.

      > Gargoyles (Paul and Maureen)

      Bad things if others are tending the bar?

      1. re: finlero
        yumyum Jan 15, 2009 08:57 AM

        I've never seen anyone else tending there. Just wanted to appear cool by knowing the names of the barkeeps there. Drat.

        1. re: yumyum
          Parsnipity Jan 15, 2009 09:59 AM

          Got an eggnog martini-style drink (made by Paul, I now know...) at Gargoyles a few weeks ago-- wow- delicious and deadly. Thank goodness we walked home. I also really like the fig martini that's on the bar menu right now- the house cured fig in vodka at the bottom of the glass is delicious.

          1. re: Parsnipity
            yumyum Jan 15, 2009 10:29 AM

            YEAH !!!! They do dabble in infusions and figs are one of my faves, so I guess I know where I'm having my next martini. Thanks for the heads-up Parsnipity.

            1. re: yumyum
              barleywino Jan 15, 2009 03:43 PM

              you can do a taste-off with the Figgin' Delicious cocktail at Radius

            2. re: Parsnipity
              Joanie Jan 16, 2009 04:27 AM

              Ooh, I've gotta get over and try that fig martini.

        2. re: yumyum
          beetlebug Jan 15, 2009 10:30 AM

          Infused bourbon. It's been so long. But, that fig vodka sounds intriguing as well.

          1. re: yumyum
            tallullah Jan 15, 2009 02:00 PM

            I heard a rumor that Joe McGirk is behind the bar at Highland Kitchen -- true?

            1. re: tallullah
              lovinlinecook Jan 15, 2009 02:06 PM

              The famous (and possibly infamous) Joe McGirk is behind the bar at times. He is actually the bar manager and can been seen working the floor as well. Claudia, formerly of East Coast Grill, is also often behind the bar and serves a tasty drink, but you can't beat having Joe wait on you.

              1. re: lovinlinecook
                Canadian Tuxedo Jan 15, 2009 03:30 PM

                Putting this disclaimer up front: I've only been to Highland Kitchen once.

                But this one time Claudia was behind the bar and my first drink, the take on a dark and stormy/moscow mule with Maker's and the chili-infused ginger beer was overwhelmed by the ginger beer. My second drink, a basic rye Manhattan, was just disappointing. Every Manhattan I've ordered at Silvertone exceeded this drink, no matter the bartender working. My DC found her drink, which was supposed to have fresh squeezed grapefruit juice, disappointing as the juice was obviously not fresh.

                Since I don't live in the neighborhood, I certainly would not recommend a trip to Highland in terms of cocktails. The food, however, was very good and I'm happy for those who can call it their local in that regard.

                1. re: Canadian Tuxedo
                  Alcachofa Jan 20, 2009 10:13 AM

                  You must like your drinks sweet, as I have found Silvertone's cocktails are made on the sweet side. (That's why I stick to their excellent wine list now.) I preferred my Manhattan exactly as it was made at Highland Kitchen.

                  1. re: Alcachofa
                    Canadian Tuxedo Jan 20, 2009 10:50 AM

                    Depends on what you mean by "sweet." I do like more than a rinse of vermouth in my Manhattans, and prefer wet to dry martinis. I do not like sweet, as in sugary, cocktails.

                    But really, online it is very hard to discern what each of us like in terms of cocktails. In forming my own opinion, I'd just like to make clear that I've been to Silvertone more times than I can count and as a baseline they are skilled and consistent in the standards. I've only been to Highland Kitchen once, and did not like what was made that night. It could have been an off night, or it could have been a difference in preferences of style. But I've been drinking Manhattans all over this town (and many others) and at home for more than a decade, so I know what I like and what is considered classic/standard.

                    All that said, if I lived in that neighborhood I'd be thrilled with Highland Kitchen. I just won't travel there specifically for cocktails (as I don't have a car). I am lucky to have Hungry Mother, Craigie, and (hopefully) whatever replaces the B-Side within walking distance so I have many neighborhood options.

                2. re: lovinlinecook
                  enhF94 Jan 20, 2009 03:49 AM

                  Not quite mixed-cocktailness, but I am adoring the del Maguey mezcals at Highland Kitchen. The crema is like drinking an english saddle.

                  ObMixed: also HK's sazerac.

            2. b
              bostonbroad Jan 15, 2009 08:05 AM

              Hungry Mother: Great food and I'd sell my mom for a No. 43. Drawbacks - bar space can be unbearably crowded and with the door right there - a little drafty.

              4 Replies
              1. re: bostonbroad
                hsquare2southend Feb 3, 2009 02:39 PM

                Ditto on the HM No. 43! I have made my own at home and it was equally delicious.

                1. re: hsquare2southend
                  noradeirdre Nov 10, 2009 04:33 PM

                  Oh! What were the proportions you used? And what kind of bitters? I want to try my hand at making this in the very near future.

                  1. re: noradeirdre
                    bostonbroad Nov 11, 2009 07:16 AM

                    I'll see if my husband will give up his recipe. He tinkered for awhile but finally got it down.

                    1. re: bostonbroad
                      noradeirdre Nov 11, 2009 07:28 AM

                      Oh, thank you!

              2. MC Slim JB Jan 15, 2009 08:24 AM

                From the Boston side of the river:

                Drink: the apotheosis of the high-craft cocktail trend, our one national-level old-school cocktail specialty bar, with the most talented crew in town, a setup that emphasizes the craft aspect of the operation, hand-carved Kold-Draft ice, house-made bitters (make that house-made lots-of-things), vintage barware and glassware, the greatest emphasis on and skill with punches. Drawbacks: a little off the track, a nibbles menu that gets less interesting with every iteration, a douchey after-work crowd.

                Bar at No. 9 Park. Used to be the best, now second only to Drink, even with a less-experienced team in place (quality hasn't slipped in my view). Downsides: not enough room for these folks to stretch out or hand-carve ice for drinks, cramped seating, very expensive food menu (worse since they eliminated the cafe menu last year), truly painful gin-blossomed old-money Beacon Hill regulars.

                Eastern Standard. Very close to No. 9 in terms of craft, seriousness, scholarly approach, plus a mostly interesting and more affordable food menu to go with. Downside: fuzzy descriptions on the cocktail menu that not all servers are capable of coloring in; baseball fans in season.

                Toro. Uninteresting till they hired Courtney from No. 9, but suddenly it's the best place for cocktails in the South End. Not quite at the level of the other three, but a vast improvement, and the best food to go with your drinking of the bunch. Downside: usually too crowded to be comfortable; you have to pick your times carefully to avoid a cramped, uncomfortable wait.

                Honorable mentions: Deep Ellum, The Alchemist, Marliave.

                On the Cambridge side, I think finlero captured my feelings about Green Street, still the best in Cambridge in my view, and the only one at the level of the top 3 above.

                One not yet covered:

                Craigie on Main. Many of the virtues of ESK, plus some useful new touches (house-made Antica Formula knockoff). Downsides: expensive food, cramped seating, very slow service. Very promising.

                23 Replies
                1. re: MC Slim JB
                  T.Clark Jan 15, 2009 09:04 AM

                  a douchey after-work crowd.......still laughing..........

                  1. re: T.Clark
                    Anon12 Jan 15, 2009 11:06 AM

                    I aspire to join that douchey crowd...tomorrow night...

                    1. re: T.Clark
                      sophie fox Jan 18, 2009 12:36 PM

                      at what?

                    2. re: MC Slim JB
                      cassoulady Jan 15, 2009 03:49 PM

                      MC Slim JB,
                      Can I ask exactly what Kold- Draft ice is? I have not made it to Drink yet and am dont know what Kold Draft ice is ( sorry if this is a silly question). thx

                      1. re: cassoulady
                        MC Slim JB Jan 15, 2009 04:34 PM

                        That’s kind of lazy shorthand on my part. What they do with ice at Drink goes well beyond their use of a particular, coveted brand of ice machine, though the fact that Kold-Draft cubes are bigger (1.25” a side) than the standard bar cocktail ice is one advantage. The machines also turn out perfectly cubical, bubble free ice that tastes cleaner and looks clearer and more beautiful.

                        As important is how the staff hacks, picks, crushes, pulverizes, and shaves ice into many forms from giant blocks (think neighborhood iceman sized). Producing cubes or spheres or irregular lumps or snow-cone-like shaved ice not only yields lovely aesthetic effects, but gives the bartenders more precise control over ice melt rate and hence dilution. I got an Old-Fashioned-like drink the other night with a handcarved 2” cube in it that melted very slowly. I watched a bigger lump carved for use in a small punchbowl. Order a mist there and it will, I expect, be made with hand-shaved ice. It’s just one more refinement in the cocktail-making process, and they’re the only ones in town doing it at that level.

                        1. re: MC Slim JB
                          cassoulady Jan 15, 2009 04:41 PM

                          ok, you have convinced me, I am headed there this weekend!

                          1. re: MC Slim JB
                            T.Clark Jan 16, 2009 06:32 AM

                            Marliave says it uses a Kold Draft machine as well?

                        2. re: MC Slim JB
                          pollystyrene Jan 15, 2009 11:00 PM

                          "...gin-blossomed old-money Beacon Hill regulars." Point to one word in that description that's anything but delightful. Now, if they were douchey.... Haven't been to Drink, but No. 9 still sits at the top of the heap for me. I love their un-pink strawberry daiquiri and their Sloe Jack. I'd never order an exorbitant three-course meal there, but a couple of cocktails, a cheese plate and maybe dessert, coupled with the great service and elegant, warm and fuzzy ambiance are enough to fill me up. Also, cocktails there followed by a short walk and dinner at the cocktail-less Grotto packs a nice one-two punch. I like ES and Green St., but I don't think they compare to No. 9. The B-Side did. (Snuffles.)

                          1. re: pollystyrene
                            nfo Jan 16, 2009 06:15 AM

                            Speaking of the B-Side, a new bar might make it into that space after all:

                            "the bar will continue to have a fantastic cocktail list. i will also try to add a world class beer list. look for 40 taps, a bunch of bottles, and a consistent beer engine. there will also be a sick wine list.

                            we will serve great food at reasonable prices."

                            It will be great if he can deliver all that.

                            1. re: nfo
                              MC Slim JB Jan 16, 2009 07:12 AM

                              Great news, if it all comes together as planned. This was the original outcome I had expected but thought had unraveled for some reason. The guy behind the Moan and Dove and The Dirty Truth will almost certainly turn the B-Side into one of Boston's best beer bars. I love the notion that he will also retain some focus on classic cocktails there. I'll be following this story closely.

                              1. re: MC Slim JB
                                jgg13 Jan 16, 2009 07:54 AM

                                The scuttlebutt that i've heard was that the new owner would have to assume various financial responsibilities of the B-side. I've heard a few different versions of this story though, so it seems the telephone game is in effect here (if it was even true to begin with)

                          2. re: MC Slim JB
                            Patricia Jan 16, 2009 06:13 AM

                            Who else besides me "hearts" MC Slim JB.

                            "A douchey after-work crowd" at Drink. Lordy, lord. Seriously, MC, I read that the cocktails at Drink somehow magically appear in front of you but not having been, cannot confirm or deny. If true, that somehow ruins the whole ceremonial aspect of getting my perfect manhattan.

                            1. re: Patricia
                              MC Slim JB Jan 16, 2009 07:15 AM

                              Drinks don't magically appear at Drink: quite the contrary! Half the fun is watching your cocktail painstakingly assembled.

                              That bit of snark about Drink's after-work crowd is based on a small sample; I usually go a bit after that crush has dissipated. I just felt a bit too much of that there-for-the-scene-not-the-drinks vibe on a couple of visits, which bugs me a little at a place like that.

                              But it's all good: they will need crowds to sustain the place, and I'm hopeful that today's It Place follower will become tomorrow's real-cocktail fan, and support other serious-minded cocktail bars.

                              1. re: MC Slim JB
                                jgg13 Jan 16, 2009 07:59 AM

                                My gf works right around the corner and has complained about the post-work mob scene. OTOH it sounds like a lot of those folks get annoyed at how long the drinks take to make, how crowded it is, etc and are losing interest (e.g. they can go the other way over to luckys and get their grey goose cosmo w/o the hassle)

                                1. re: MC Slim JB
                                  jody Jan 16, 2009 09:57 AM

                                  I definitely recommend trying to go during off peak (especially for your first time to really get the full treatment). Sunday at 6:00 was about 1/2 full and we got a lot of bartender attention. Saturday at 7:00, very good, but less interesting drinks. (also noticed we didn't get vintage highball glasses -- wonder if they are getting broken or stolen. Still saw other vintage styles there, just not our drinks)

                                  1. re: MC Slim JB
                                    hsquare2southend Feb 3, 2009 02:43 PM

                                    MC's just tellin' it like it is. It IS a douchey crowd. I accidentally came across it a number of times before figuring out how to best avoid it.

                                  2. re: Patricia
                                    cannedmilkandfruitypebbles Jan 16, 2009 07:41 AM

                                    MC SLIM nut scrubbin' aside, half the fun of Drink is watching them craft the cocktails. I watched with interest as the bartender brought out a sand hourglass, flipped it in front of us and shook both my and my friends drinks simultaniously until the sand rand down. This was for drinks that were made with whole eggs and I guess a good shaking is in order but I wasn't aware that the lenght of time was necessary until i saw it with my own eyes.

                                    I was there on a Thursday night at 5:15 and the place was all but empty. We stayed until about 8:30 and even then it wasn't too crowded. The crowds started pouring in with the yuppie Gap hipsters around 7:30 ish

                                    1. re: cannedmilkandfruitypebbles
                                      finlero Jan 16, 2009 07:43 AM

                                      > yuppie Gap hipsters

                                      I don't even know how to begin to parse this, but it made me smile.

                                      1. re: finlero
                                        sailormouth Jan 16, 2009 10:05 AM

                                        Yuppie Gap hipsters and douchey after workers and sanctimonious hounds, oh my!

                                        I must say though, it is more enjoyable on the off times.

                                        1. re: sailormouth
                                          Alcachofa Jan 20, 2009 10:18 AM

                                          Just remember the gin-blossomed old-money Beacon Hillers made it all possible.

                                          1. re: Alcachofa
                                            MC Slim JB Jan 20, 2009 10:27 AM

                                            No question, and for that, I am grateful. I just don't like striking up conversations with them.

                                  3. re: MC Slim JB
                                    jamaicaplain Jan 16, 2009 09:04 AM

                                    On a side note, I was at No. 9 the other night for an amazing drink and was told by one of the bartenders there that the cafe menu is planning a comeback.

                                    1. re: jamaicaplain
                                      hsquare2southend Feb 3, 2009 02:44 PM

                                      REALLY? Now we're talking!

                                  4. cannedmilkandfruitypebbles Jan 15, 2009 09:17 AM

                                    A friend and I have a sctoch crawl route that we hit once a year, as follows:

                                    Omni Parker house
                                    Whisky Park
                                    Bristol Lounge
                                    Lock Ober
                                    Omni Parker

                                    Omni Parker- Pros: Warm, relaxing vibe. Scotch Selection, warm nuts Cons: touristy at times

                                    Whisky Park: not a lot to like, really. But it gives the route a good cirlce and we can pick up cigars at Prevetti's on the way.

                                    Excelsior: Pros: nice atmosphere Cons: prices

                                    Bristol Loung: Pros: great coctails, plenty of space to spread out Cons: clientel, prices

                                    Lock Ober: Pros: interesting setting, small bar with a history and complimentary house made potato chips Cons: Small bar, limited selection

                                    1. Lauren R. Jan 15, 2009 10:17 AM

                                      And the sorority girl vote goes to...Cuchi Cuchi, in between Central and Kendall Square in Cambridge. Funky 20's vibe, yummy innovative cocktails. Good tapas too, although they swear they are NOT a tapas joint.

                                      Cuchi Cuchi
                                      Boston, MA, Boston, MA

                                      1. bombaybeauty Jan 15, 2009 10:44 AM

                                        Indeed, I would add Craigie on Main. Don't know the bartenders by name, but early on there was one guy who really knew his craft and was training others. Having been to both Green Street and CoM several times recently, I think they are at the same level for the cocktails I tried, though Green Street does have a huge repertiore. For me it's just a difference of style, one a little buttoned down and the other a little relaxed.


                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: bombaybeauty
                                          jgg13 Jan 15, 2009 10:57 AM

                                          I'd imagine that the 'one guy' was Tom:

                                          1. re: bombaybeauty
                                            Joanie Jan 16, 2009 06:02 AM

                                            "Early on"??? It's still pretty early on isn't it?

                                          2. t
                                            tdaaa Jan 15, 2009 12:08 PM

                                            How about suggestions for the suburban crowd? Although come to think of it, drinking a number of cocktails is somewhat incompatible with getting home, if you live in the 'burbs. Anywhere worthwhile in Waltham?

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: tdaaa
                                              Duster17 Jan 16, 2009 06:21 AM

                                              You can't beat Tempo's prices for cocktails. Not especially imaginative but balanced out by the good food you can get to go along with them. Pretty good selection on tap as well.

                                            2. yarm Jan 15, 2009 09:26 PM

                                              Not mentioned yet is Rendezvous in Central. Scott Holliday (last seen here in Boston at Chez Henri) heads the bar there.

                                              Independent in Union Square, Somerville, also deserves a nod.

                                              17 Replies
                                              1. re: yarm
                                                MC Slim JB Jan 15, 2009 10:36 PM

                                                Two excellent additions!

                                                1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                  CanIHaveABite Jan 16, 2009 05:56 AM

                                                  I recently went to Drink although I was hesitant because I gave up drinking for January (yes the holidays were that rough for me). I mean, one can only drink so many glasses of soda water with cranberry right?

                                                  Anyway, the Sam, Misty and John collaborated and made 3 absolutely fantastic non-alcoholic drinks for me using their usual MO: what flavors do you like, hot, cold, etc. The first was a limey-gingery soda water drink. Very refreshing. The second was a "Coffee Fizz" with muddled coffee beans and a thick, fizzy foam on top which required a straw/spoon - a stroon? A spraw? Then finally, a non-alcoholic Tom and Jerry with the official T&J cups from their fabulous collection of glassware. It was so delicious (and rich) it prompted my friends to get the regular version with rum (I think).

                                                  I do love the fact that you have a dialogue with the staff about what you want and that they are really interested and care that they make you something you will enjoy. It is definitely more time consuming but I have yet to be disappointed, even without the alcohol.

                                                2. re: yarm
                                                  yumyum Jan 16, 2009 08:40 AM

                                                  Scott Holliday made my friend a delicious non-alcoholic ginger beer last night. Delightful!

                                                  1. re: yarm
                                                    finlero Nov 11, 2009 05:40 AM

                                                    Since this thread was dusted off, might as well add my updated $0.02 after my Boston visit last week:

                                                    * Rendezvous - agree the cocktail craft is top-notch, easily the highlight of my dinner there. The food is good, but overpriced (most entrees in the mid-$20s) for the kind of casual upscale food I could make at home with a little effort, particularly given that unlike many contemporaries around town, they don't have a discreet bar menu. Also important, they close at 10 or 11 each night, so not a good option for late-night carousing.

                                                    * Craigie - great cocktails, but maddeningly slow, crowded, pretentious, and full of itself. The bar menu is killer, but I almost can't convey just how off-putting I find the vibe to be.

                                                    * Drink - best cocktails I've had in town. Vibe is kind of sterile and un-fun.

                                                    Green Street is still the sweet spot for me. The food is a tick down in quality from Rendezvous, and several ticks down from Craigie, but the cocktails are great, the prices are fair, and the vibe is just right.

                                                    1. re: finlero
                                                      barleywino Nov 11, 2009 06:52 AM

                                                      Assuming from your post that you sat at the bar at Craigie, and that your main interaction was with the bartender, are you saying that you found him/her to be "pretentious and full of (him/her)self"? just trying to figure out your comment about the vibe there...

                                                      1. re: barleywino
                                                        StriperGuy Nov 11, 2009 07:09 AM

                                                        I gotta say, I concur with Finlero, the overall vibe at Craigie is a bit precious.

                                                        1. re: StriperGuy
                                                          autopi Nov 11, 2009 07:22 AM

                                                          I don't find the atmosphere at Craigie to be particularly precious. At least not any more precious than Cambridge in general. Which, to be fair, is one of the more precious villes on god's green earth.

                                                          1. re: StriperGuy
                                                            Nab Nov 11, 2009 07:27 AM

                                                            I've tried to stay away from this topic, but finlero basically just said what I was too hesitant to say publicly.

                                                            I once got suckered into waiting outside Craigie at 5:00 like a groupie trying to get backstage. I felt absurd. Sat at the bar and made a meal out of marrow, charcuterie, pig-tails, and a couple of other things. Good stuff. Cocktails also great. But the whole experience was very uncomfortable, and another 10 cocktails wouldn't have put me at ease there. The magic of this place must've just sailed right over my head or perhaps it's on the dining room side of things. Or perhaps this is just not my style of dining.

                                                            I'd rather go get my craft cocktails at Striperguy's house anyways. ;)

                                                          2. re: barleywino
                                                            finlero Nov 11, 2009 07:37 AM

                                                            I actually don't mind the bartenders at all, especially as compared to the other elements in play here.

                                                            I've been several times since the move to Central, and I'm sorry to say Craigie's star has steadily fallen for me with each successive visit. This has nothing to do with the always-stellar food and drink, and everything to do with the vibe, which I find to be deliberately cultivated from chef-owner Tony Maws on down. In my opinion, the breaks with my personal preference are most acute near the kitchen and the bar. Things I've noticed that don't sit right with me:

                                                            * Between my own "ringside" (sitting at the kitchen counter) experiences and those I've heard from others, I think it's safe to say one can expect to hear Maws yelling at his staff loudly, rudely, and often obscenely. I'm sure this went on in the old space, but moving it front and center is off-putting to me.

                                                            * As a "one-off" of this, the entire staff (especially in the kitchen, but servers and hosts too) always look utterly terrified as they go about their work nights. This totally stresses me out, and I have trouble enjoying myself.

                                                            * As compared to other good cocktail spots in Cambridge, the Craigie bar is pretty "sceney", filling up with more beautiful people than you might expect to find in other similar establishments in the area. I have no problem with this per se, but it's not what I'm usually after when I want to grab a drink on that side of the river.

                                                            * I've personally seen Tony Maws smirking with his staff about a patron at the bar they considered under-dressed.

                                                            This new vibe is entirely Maws' and Craigie's prerogative, and it seems to be working for them, drawing in a shinier new clientele and making them a mint. But as a 10-year Camberville guy, it just isn't for me. At this point, Craigie reminds me of that grade school friend who starts running with the cool kids in high school and won't talk to you anymore. I was fond of their more humble beginnings in the Cragie Street basement; I wish them well in their new incarnation, but don't really have much interest in being a part of it.

                                                            1. re: finlero
                                                              yumyum Nov 11, 2009 07:51 AM

                                                              * I've personally seen Tony Maws smirking with his staff about a patron at the bar they considered under-dressed.

                                                              Ok, that SRSLY creeps me out. I'm sure they were talking about me. :-(

                                                              1. re: yumyum
                                                                finlero Nov 11, 2009 08:06 AM

                                                                Hey, if they haven't heard acid wash is the new black, it's their loss.

                                                                1. re: finlero
                                                                  yumyum Nov 11, 2009 08:16 AM

                                                                  Bwahahaha I miss you and your wicked sense of humor. Acid wash rulz!

                                                                2. re: yumyum
                                                                  jgg13 Nov 11, 2009 08:07 AM

                                                                  That was my thought too :)

                                                            2. re: finlero
                                                              bostonbroad Nov 11, 2009 07:19 AM

                                                              My only gripe with Craigie is that you can't claim a barstool if you aren't eating. I disagree that the vibe at Drink is kind of sterile and unfun. I've met great people there and had really fun and interesting conversations with several of the bartenders. I'm getting a little worried that turnover at Green Street may be hurting the cocktail program - then again, I was there last on a Tuesday night, so perhaps I just got the double A team.

                                                              1. re: bostonbroad
                                                                barleywino Nov 11, 2009 08:04 AM

                                                                "My only gripe with Craigie is that you can't claim a barstool if you aren't eating. "... It *is* annoying but I think that is not uncommon at the really-busy restaurant bars (ESK, Babbo come to mind)

                                                                1. re: barleywino
                                                                  Alcachofa Nov 11, 2009 09:21 AM

                                                                  HA! And it wasn't that long ago that eating at the bar was a rarity. So now, they EXPECT you to eat at the bar! Too funny.

                                                                  1. re: Alcachofa
                                                                    kate used to be 50 Nov 11, 2009 01:48 PM

                                                                    I don't mind that you can't sit at the bar if you aren't eating, but why can't restaurants make the standing room more comfortable. Craigie's bar area is not very pleasant space to stand in if you are waiting for a table or just having a cocktail. Can't you have a dedicated space for the drinking only herd that doesn't interfer with service and other diners? Just saying.

                                                          3. MC Slim JB Jan 16, 2009 09:42 AM

                                                            I always liked Cuchi Cuchi for pioneering original cocktails with a lot of fresh herbs and muddled fruits. But I gave up after trying about 10 times in a row to catch a drink there and finding the bar an impenetrable scrum. Too small and popular for its own good, a bit in the same league as Chez Henri in that respect.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                              jajjguy Jan 16, 2009 10:32 AM

                                                              Yes, and there is something strange about the service there. Delay in getting served (at the bar) does not seem to correlate with busyness. I've only been there twice, but had the same impression both time.

                                                            2. leahms Jan 16, 2009 01:42 PM

                                                              definitely love the drinks at Cuchi Cuchi (the setting is a bit on the "girly" side for guys and gals who can handle it.) I had the Joie Vert at Craigie on Main and loved it.

                                                              My brother and I enjoyed a good drink at the bar on a Monday night at Summer Shack. Good drink, quiet night.

                                                              I miss the bartender from Frasiers though....

                                                              1. k
                                                                kimfair1 Jan 18, 2009 09:55 AM

                                                                My current faves are The Northern Lights at Craigie on Main, and my old standby The Whiskey Smash at Eastern Standard (though I make a mean whiskey smash at home).

                                                                1. s
                                                                  sophie fox Jan 19, 2009 05:26 PM

                                                                  Last summer, just to see what it was like, I had lunch at the Parish Cafe fully expecting to be underwhelmed - and I was delightfully surpised by the delicious lobster BLT and equally delicious watermelon mojito. One of the most pleasant drinks I've ever had.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: sophie fox
                                                                    pollystyrene Jan 20, 2009 02:19 AM

                                                                    I was also pleasantly surprised by their strawberry basil martini, but the few other cocktails I've had there were terrible.

                                                                  2. s
                                                                    spicybostonian Jan 19, 2009 05:37 PM

                                                                    In the dead of winter, Le Casa De Pedro in Watertown makes me feel like I am in 80 degree weather with the music and the mojitos. Can't beat that.

                                                                    1. p
                                                                      pollystyrene Feb 2, 2009 06:42 AM

                                                                      Do Highland Kitchen, Hungry Mother and Rendezvous have discrete bar areas with their own tables, or just the bar itself? Also, do any of thenm have bar menus?

                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                      1. re: pollystyrene
                                                                        MC Slim JB Feb 2, 2009 07:44 AM

                                                                        All three have distinct bar areas and no tables (if I'm remembering correctly); only Hungry Mother has walls separating the dining room from the bar. None has a separate bar-only menu. Rendezvous' bar is notable for its low profile; it's clearly meant to make bar dining more comfortable, and be more of a diner's bar than a drinker's bar. I find Highland Kitchen is the least comfortable because of standing crowds behind seated patrons (akin to the Franklin South End); that's less of an issue at the other two.

                                                                        1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                          Canadian Tuxedo Feb 2, 2009 08:46 AM

                                                                          Hungry Mother does have two high top tables in the bar area that can seat four each. Since the restaurant is usually full, these are usually taken. But they are first come-first serve and aren't included in the reservation system.

                                                                          1. re: Canadian Tuxedo
                                                                            pollystyrene Feb 2, 2009 06:44 PM

                                                                            Thanks to both of you for the info. I plan to hit every place on this thread--it's a good one, Finlero--and while I like sitting at bar tables, I don't find the bars themselves very comfy. Also, since drinking will be the main event, it's good to know who does and doesn't offer affordable bar/cafe menus.

                                                                            1. re: pollystyrene
                                                                              Harp00n Feb 2, 2009 06:59 PM

                                                                              "I plan to hit every place on this thread"
                                                                              Are you sure you're just not experiencing separation anxiey induced by your beloved Chateau's license suspension, pollystyrene? :-)


                                                                              1. re: Harp00n
                                                                                pollystyrene Feb 2, 2009 07:46 PM

                                                                                I beg your pardon, Harp, but I've never stepped a dainty foot into the Chat. They'd better get that license back soon, though, because those police reports were my primary source of entertainment.

                                                                                1. re: pollystyrene
                                                                                  Harp00n Feb 2, 2009 11:08 PM

                                                                                  Hmmm........seems like a classic case of the lady douth protest a bit too loudly bot as you wish your daintyness, ROFL!


                                                                      2. intheq Feb 3, 2009 09:46 AM

                                                                        Craigie on Main should definitely get a nod. I posted about my delightful meal there the other day but did not discuss the cocktail side too much.

                                                                        The attention to detail that is essential to a great cocktail is there. Most people will remember bartender Tom from Eastern Standard. He makes many of his own infusions, tinctures, Amer Picon, etc.

                                                                        Negative side would be the rather cramped bar area. While it is larger than some other spaces mentioned (Hungry Mother's bar is nothing short of a hassle), it is still small.

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