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Late afternoon drinks and food (Cambridge/Somerville)?

I am planning on meeting my sister for drinks and food around 3 or 4 pm tomorrow, somewhere accessible from the Red Line in Cambridge or Somerville. She is not really a beer or wine drinker, and her cocktail standards are reasonably high, so I need somewhere with reliably high quality bartending. A place that can make a good Toronto would be ideal. However, the places that initially come to mind (Craigie, Green St) don't open until 5 or 5:30, and I wouldn't order cocktails at the places that I know are open (Charlie's Kitchen, Grendel's Den). Any suggestions?

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  1. Didn't Legal Seafoods recently revamp their bar program? It wouldn't normally be mypick, but given your parameters, the one in Harvard Square might work.

    1. Not a sure thing and still a bit late for you, but Noir opens at 4:30pm and they have a Toronto on the menu.

      To be honest it seems to be totally hit or miss there depending on the bartender. I've had both a fantastic and a terrible Toronto on different occasions.

      Both Daedalus and Grafton are open during the afternoon, but can't comment on the quality of their cocktails.

      When the Russell Tavern opens in the next few months, hopefully that will be an answer for your next such outing.

      1. Upstairs on the Square's bar is open from 11am to 1am.

        2 Replies
        1. re: yarm

          How have you found the cocktail service there lately?

          For a while I found it pretty consistent and above average--not Green St etc. level, but pretty good. But over the last couple of months the skill level behind the bar seems to have plummeted.

          I work in the Square and before 5pm will steer people across the street to Redhouse for cocktails rather than Upstairs. Really, just for the price as Redhouse doesn't generally have great bartending, but at least the price point is significantly lower for the same quality of drinks as Upstairs.

          IMO anyway...

          1. re: Canadian Tuxedo

            I have never been to the bar but had a drink the last time I was at dinner there a few years ago. It's not part of my regular (or irregular) rotation for a few reasons, but it's in the right area and open.

        2. Thanks for the suggestions so far. I looked at Noir, but if we're going to wait until 4:30 I'd probably just wait an extra half hour and go to Temple Bar or Garden at the Cellar.

          After further thought, both Harvest and Casablanca seem like possibilities as well. I've had good to great food at both, but not drinks. Anyone have experience with the bartending at either place?

          3 Replies
          1. re: greenzebra

            When I started typing my response, I was thinking it was open at 4...then I checked. Sorry.

            I think LeoLioness is on to something with Legal. Because of that suggestion I gave it a shot this afternoon for one cocktail and it was good--a rye, Barenjager honey liquer, and lemon juice cocktail. Tasty, and more important, the juice seemed fresh and everything was precisely measured.

            So I imagine that could point to suitable drinks for your sister.

            1. re: Canadian Tuxedo

              I had something very similar to that at Highland Kitchen this week - rye, honey liquer and grapefruit - they called it a Brown Derby - a more appropriate name would be Roller Derby given the time it took to knock it back - dangerous stuff.

              1. re: Bob Dobalina

                The Brown Derby is a classic from the 1930's (although honey, not honey liqueur). There is already a drink called the Roller Derby which is gin-based and probably from the 1970's (it might be from Stan Jones' book).

          2. I'm pretty sure that River Gods opens at 3pm. I've never had a cocktail there...I always order wine or beer. It's rather quiet at that hour - perhaps with the bartender's undivided attention, there could be something promising cocktail-wise? It goes without saying that the food will be tasty (at least I find it to be so).

            1. Not Cambridge or Somerville but Drink is a short walk from south station and they open at 4.

              1. Reporting back: we ended up going to Harvest, as the French onion soup on their bar menu sounded appealing. I am happy to report that the bartending was, if not exceptional, at least above average. The Toronto was quite respectable, if not quite up to Drink standards, and they managed a fine Negroni too. Definitely on the pricey side, though.