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Turning 21 in Boston

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I am beginning to plan my sister's 21st birthday in the downtown area. I am not too familiar with the bar scene around there, as I live in Providence. Any suggestions as to what streets, areas to do for a decent bar crawl? She doesn't want to do the Fanuiel area, that she's made clear. Any help or suggestions would be great!

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  1. Maybe I think of downtown differently than you... downtown but not Faneuil Hall area is a little confusing to me (in my mind most of the bars in the financial district would be lumped in with the Faneuil Hall area). Some non-Faneuil options not too far from what I think of as downtown are:

    Beacon Hill - crawl down Cambridge Street on the edge of Beacon Hill. Usually filled with the 21-25 year old crowd. Bars range from a cheap frat-type dump with Golden Tee, etc (Beacon Hill Pub) to a bit nicer but crowded (Harvard Gardens) to basic pub (The Hill) to divey comfortable pub (Red Hat).

    Back Bay, particularly Boylston St - several college and recent grad-type bars such as Dillon's, Whiskey's, Pour House. Can be crowded.

    If you're willing to go further, try Cambridge - I'm less familiar with the specific bars but I have heard of crawls down Mass Ave. Bars will have less of the Faneuil Hall feel here in general.

    1. Yeah, people's definition of "downtown" varies pretty widely. To my friends in the 'burbs, it's pretty much anywhere within about 5 miles of the State House, not Downtown Crossing, etc.

      The bar crawl I'd do first would focus on high-craft cocktails around Central Square, Cambridge: Green Street, Rendezvous, Craigie on Main, maybe Cuchi Cuchi, Hungry Mother. Not sure how that will play with a very young group of drinkers, but you can't start on the good stuff too soon. A lot of great food along that path, too.

      http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

      1. silvertone, marliave, good life, max & dylan's and kingston station all in downtown crossing. could throw the ritz in there for an upscale joint.

        if you want late partying, felt is right there and boylston place is an easy stumble away too..

        6 Replies
        1. re: hotoynoodle

          I think this sounds like a good batch of cool and nice places. Then there's always the icky "Alley" after if you want. I'd add Foley's to the list for a casual drink.

          1. re: hotoynoodle

            I vote for hotoynoodle's list, not much to add!

            1. re: Pegmeister

              While I haven't been to the other places, I find the cocktails at Marliave and Silvertone to be mediocre (although I like the food at Marliave). I like Slim's list. Why not start one's drinking career auspiciously?

              1. re: pollystyrene

                I'm mostly a wine drinker, but I had a cocktail once at Silvertone's made with some amazing rasberry liquor, wish I could remember the name of it. They also have some lovely dessert wines, but that's another story. I think Slim's list is wonderful, but not sure a younger crowd would feel the same. About the only other place I order something other than wine is Artus in the North End. They definitely have their expresso martini down. Drink selections change seasonally, so in the summer they have sangria and the fall they'll have pumpkin or apple spice martinis. This could be another option.

                1. re: pollystyrene

                  Cocktails at Marliave are a crapshoot (either quite good or pretty bad), but I've experienced solid, consistent bartending at Silvertone over the years, a nice surprise in a place where most of the crowd is pouring down beers or vodka/sodas. I've never gotten a poorly-made shaker cocktail there.

                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                    i too have never had a bad drink at silvertone. josh, rob and cedric are some of the best bartenders in the city.

                    i had the worst negroni ever in my life at marliave, from a bartender who had no idea what was even in it. but the space is kinda cool, the patio is nice and they can probably serve beer or mixed drinks serviceably.

            2. if she wants to go swanky, how about start with some of the "aperitif" (half size) cocktails at the bar at Clio (or maybe a liquid nitrogen cocktail if she wants something festive) then take a cab up Commonwealth to Eastern Standard. if you go to Craigie, be sure to try the corn cocktail if they still have it

              1. I would give a second to magz suggestion for Boylston st. , In addition to those listed there are other choices along the way (including Vox, and Kings) and plenty of choices for food. If you are looking for a little swank you could also go to the bar at Jury's hotel.

                If it won't be on the night of a Sox game Lansdowne st. area is also good for a crawl, as bars as so close you merely need to stumble ;)

                1. Some good suggestions on here. It's been a while since I was 21, but Boylston Street could be an option depending on the personalities of the people attending the crawl. This was standard bar hopping for my friends when we were that age. You have Cactus Club for margaritas, Kings for bowling or pool, Whiskey's, Foggy Goggle, whatever McCarthy's is called these days, Pour House, etc. Most of these places will be filled with people in their early 20's.

                  Another option, but not "downtown" is Allston. I have seen and been part of many organized pub crawls here. Whitehorse, Sunset, Big City, The Kells, Harper's Ferry, Wonder Bar, Our House, etc etc etc all within a few steps of each other.

                  Most of these places don't charge a cover, which is hard to find in Faneuil and makes a "crawl" expensive.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Ali G

                    foggy goggle is called something else now.

                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                      Is that where McGreevy's is?

                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                        Shows how much I go to that area these days.

                        1. re: Ali G

                          I don't think there's any shame in avoiding that strip of Boylston Street bars.

                          http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/