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A line at Drink?! Come on!

So I take my brother and his wife out to Drink this past Saturday. They live in NYC, in their early 30's and I was excited to take them to Drink to show that Boston is just as cool as NY.

Well we get there around 10 and there's a line. It's a short line, but still, I didn't want to make 30 year olds stand in line. So we go across the street to Lucky's (yuck!) for a drink and come back at 11 thinking the line would have disappeared. Nope- it's longer now! So we gave it up and went to Beacon St Tavern, a stand by for me.

A line at Drink?! Come on! This isn't Clery's! Why would they have a line!? The bar wasn't even that full. We walked in for a second and there was plenty of space to stand around with a drink.

Oh well, my brother and his wife really liked what they saw and want to return next time they're in Boston. I guess we'll try going at 9 next time!!

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Clerys Bar & Restaurant
113 Dartmouth St, Boston, MA 02116

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  1. It does crack me up to see lines at Clery's: that place is so very blah.

    But I think Drink's newish policy of limiting the number of patrons was absolutely essential. The experience is utterly ruined by a crowd that's four deep at the bar. I think even with limited access, the weekend crowds still make the experience sub-optimal -- you still can't get as much face time with the staff as you should -- but it is significantly better than it was when they just kept the doors open to all comers.

    I don't like standing in lines either, which is why I still avoid Drink on weekend nights. But I'm in favor of the new policy.

    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

    1. You're not the only one trying to show that Boston (and Drink) is just as cool as NY. So is the NY Times:

      http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/08/tra...

      1. Saturday night is and has always been amateur night whether you are in Boston or NYC ;-)

        5 Replies
          1. re: StriperGuy

            Well, then. I need to shake up my routine! Time to go hard core on Tuesday and Wednesday nights and in bed early on Friday and Saturday nights! ;-)

            I agree with you Slim-- I probably wouldn't be complaining about the line if I were inside! ha

            1. re: your_outreach

              there was a bare naked ladies concert at the pavilion and cirque de soleil was getting out at that time too. the seaport area was a zoo that night.

              1. re: hotoynoodle

                we went before the BNL concert and just missed the line (we walked in right before a party of 14, at which point the place was packed). There was a line as we were leaving, but I've seen that every time I've gone there (which is why we always go earlier). And the bartenders' attention is definitely spread thin when the place is packed. It was a good 15+ mins between drink refills, so they definitely missed out on an extra round from us.
                As much as I hate to even suggest this, they should consider going the Milk & Honey route...not necessarily the membership part, but the ability to call or text to find out if it's even worth showing up/get put on a list for later in the night, so there's no need to wait in line.

          2. I wouldn't stand in line for Drink, but agree that them keeping control of the crowd is a good thing. As much as I like Drink, I only like it if there's actually room to sit at the bar and the bartenders aren't slammed. I generally only ever bother venturing over that way on day/times where I'm pretty sure it'll be fairly empty.

            1. Isn't the existence of the line proof of Drink's coolness? New Yorkers ought to be accustomed to waiting in line! My philosophy with lines is, if you really want to get in, just suck it up and wait, it's probably not going to get any shorter.

              Unrelated: why is Lucky's a yuck? I love that place. Completely different from Drink but hip in its own right. Did the New Yorkers like it?

              51 Replies
              1. re: bella_sarda

                Well, I heard a lot of good things about Lucky's except I didn't like the scene there. Maybe I just was in a different mindset since I was with my older brother, but I feel like there were the bro types there.

                I accidentally called it a dive bar and my brother laughed at me. He said a dive bar is one opened at 2 am at Port Authority with a couple of 80 year old drunks... haha

                1. re: your_outreach

                  Lucky's is also MUCH better on a week night. I can imagine the crowd on a Saturday would be a bit much.

                  Sounds like he and I had similar mis-spent youths in NYC.

                  There was a place near the bus stop I waited at when I went to high school... at 8:30 in the morning 2-3 fairly dedicated individuals would be sitting at the bar. Could not really tell if it was a late night or an early start. Definitely a dive.

                  1. re: StriperGuy

                    Ha! Well, he certainly did not spend his time with elderly alcoholics at the Port Authority, but he knows his way around NYC. His wife definitely partied with the best of them, but things change so quickly, I doubt she knows where the scene is now-a-days.

                    I'd be willing to try out Lucky's on a weeknight. Like I said, I wasn't too much of a fan. Just a bunch of unattractive girls with skimpy clothes and a lot of make-up + bro-ish guys thinking they're the sh-t.

                    My brother and his wife really loved the waterfront area though. They appreciated the industrial lofts.

                    1. re: your_outreach

                      Lucky's is not a dive bar. Just probably not the type of place to take your old brother and his wife on a Saturday night.

                      As for the girls... Whiskey Priest has been packed with them for the last couple weeks. But they tend to hang out with the "bro-ish" guys. It would seem you'd have fit in better at a restaurant bar like Eastern Standard. You probably could have walked to Kingston Station or The Intercontinental.

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                      Eastern Standard
                      528 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215

                      Kingston Station
                      25 Kingston St, Boston, MA 02111

                      1. re: Beachowolfe

                        I'd take ES over Drink any day just for the less pretentious vibe.

                        1. re: StriperGuy

                          Played hooky from work on Friday since Mr. is off from school. Since we could beat the afterwork crowd we popped into Drink around 4:15 after seeing the Fighter. It was pretty empty then and we easily grabbed a seat at the bar. My drinks (both bourbon based as requested) were delicious but I can't imagine standing in line to get in here. Plus, being from Cambridge I can easily get a good drink at Green Street, Craigie or ESK (quick walk over the bridge).

                          I will say I like not having a menu. Asking for something citrus-y or something with Chartreus actually makes a lot more sense then looking at ESK's cocktail menu and having no clue what many of those drink actually are. I'm more likely to get what I'm in the mood for... but I'd have no problem having a conversation with the bartender at those other bars and ordering the same way.

                          Drink was certainly snooty. One guy sitting alone and waiting for his friends glanced at the snacks menu and asked "Can you provide me with your cocktail menu?" to which the bartender replied, "I cannot." and gave the poor guy no further explanation. Oh come on! He couldn't have just replied "we don't have a menu. Just tell me what your in the mood for"?

                          And finally, everyone has different taste in music but I usually like to hear some in a bar. I just couldn't hear it in Drink even when it was empty. Some of my fondest memories of ESK and Green Street are listening to some great albums (by no coincidence that happened when Andy worked at those places.)

                          1. re: heypielady

                            I guess I'm also slightly annoyed by the menu practice at Eastern Standard, and now at Island Creek Oyster Bar, of listing cocktail names with only the vaguest of descriptions. I'm guessing this is so that folks just dipping their toe into the craft cocktail pool won't be scared off by all the exotic spirits and aromatized wines and bitters in use, and I can always pull out my smartphone, but I'd prefer more explicitness. I don't need recipes, but a list of the principal ingredients would be welcome.

                            http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                            -----
                            Eastern Standard
                            528 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215

                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                              The lack of descriptions at ESK bugs me as well, unless I happen to be there at a slow time (which doesn't happen often). I tend to fall back on old standards when I'm there, simply because the crowds don't always make it conducive to ask questions.

                            2. re: heypielady

                              "Can you provide me with your cocktail menu?" to which the bartender replied, "I cannot."

                              That is because they are annoying &%*$bags at Drink.

                              I would have gotten up and left, perhaps with this comment upon departing:

                              "You're a bar tender, not the Pope, lose the attitude peckerhead."

                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                Agreed: that is really douchey. Most of the time, I see a lot more proper hospitality than dickishness there.

                                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                1. re: MC Slim JB

                                  Agreed on both points. That would really annoy me, and I have never had an experience even close to that at Drink--just very warm, personal attentive service.

                                  1. re: celeriac

                                    I got some attitude once about a year ago. I attribute it to me bringing a group of yuppie suburbanites with me. I wanted them to experience the new trend in cocktail making. Trying to steer them away from chocolatinis and such. I had been several times before, alone or with one other person, and enjoyed it very much. One on one service from John was great. Educational, great drinks, and gracious service. But the night I went with the group It was was a brusque, curt, unwelcoming vibe. I think it started with one guy ordering a beer, another woman wanted Vodka, but the buzz kill was my geeky friend who said make me anything but was soon horrified to see an egg white appear...he quickly passed on that idea. I'll continue to visit on my way to or from Logan for a nice coctail or 2 but I'll go it alone.

                                    1. re: T.Clark

                                      If what you described is reason to be treated poorly, I can gladly avoid that establishment permanently.

                                      1. re: T.Clark

                                        It must be a drag to serve patrons who aren't getting into the spirit of the place, like running a traditional Chinese place and having to serve people who always order chop suey, won't try anything new. But I still think the effort should be made to offer civil hospitality to every civilly-behaving customer.

                                        Glad it's not me who has to put on that game face every day. I would find it a struggle to do that night in and night out with customers who apparently relish the scene without making the slightest effort to explore what it does uniquely. Why would you order the same standards you could get at practically any bar in town?

                                        I'm sure every bartender at Drink has a well-polished rap and repertoire for easing the timid gently out of their vodka and light beer rut. It's not like they're going to start the neophyte out with the cocktail equivalent of roast pig's head. They want people to get it.

                                        http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                                          I appreciate a well made cocktail, however some people drink vodka and beer because they like it, not because they are necessarily timid. As long as the customer is polite and pays, there is no call to ever treat them with a cold shoulder. That is just poor customer service.

                                          The example referenced above is not surprising as it is typical of what I have seen in Lynch establishments more than once. It is one of the reasons I don't frequent her restaurants or bars. I don't want to have to worry that my invited dining companions are not pleasing their server or bartender with what they order or are not 'getting it'.

                                          Conversely, we had dinner at Meyers and Chang the other night and the diner next to us at the food bar asked "where is the sweet and sour chicken" (honestly) while looking at the menu. The waitress answered simply "um, we don't have that" before suggesting some of her favorites. She kept a high level of service and affability throughout their meal. Joanne Chang was at the end of the bar and apparently has trained her staff in the basics of customer service.

                                          If a bartender finds it a struggle to provide warm service in the face of someone ordering a beer (regardless of how highly they regard their own cocktail craft) they should consider another line of work which is not customer facing.

                                          1. re: Gabatta

                                            I agree that there's no excuse for making the customer feel uncomfortable. But there is something timid in my book about going to a Chinese restaurant and ordering the hamburger, even if that's what you like. There's a bar right across the street that doesn't do what Drink does, and another dozen within about a ten minute walk. I'm not sure why anyone would bother with the expense and hassle of Drink if they're not there for its peculiar specialty.

                                            http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                                              Many people meet friends, colleagues, clients and the like at drinking establishments (a fairly common practice I believe). These people didn't necessarily pick the venue, but they expect a basic level of service and welcomeness. Comparing ordering a beer or vodka at Drink to ordering a hamburger at a Chinese restaurant is a bit of a stretch. However it is a great example of why I don't go to those types of places if it is up to me. I can get an excellent great drink at plenty of bars that will happily serve my companions whatever they please. After all, we are nice people and do tip well. That is usually more than enough.

                                              1. re: Gabatta

                                                Yes, of course. I guess I feel bad for people who can't ever stray from their tiny furrow. I have friends like that: I just don't propose Drink as a place to meet them.

                                                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                  LOL

                                                  I don't propose Drink as a place to meet anyone, but plenty of other people do. These are the groups to which I referred.

                                                  I don't feel bad for friends who don't drink craft cocktails. They don't see their tastes as being limited or in a rut, and are actually quite happy with what they choose to drink. I suppose they aren't looking about validation in their choices from snooty bartenders or cocktail snobs.

                                              2. re: MC Slim JB

                                                I'm sorry, but in this case I disagree with you MCSJB. What if someone walks in thinking it's just a bar (which it is) not that it is something "special."

                                                Should they be treated like an imbecile for making the egregious error of assuming they are in a bar (which they are) and ordering in the traditional fashion. Is it really necessary to know the secret handshake?

                                                Eudcate people yes, but don't treat them like morons. That's just plain bad hospitality.

                                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                                  Yeah, I hope I've been clear that I'm not defending any bartender's douchey behavior. I know it's often hard to optimize the choice of restaurant or bar for a diverse group: I get those kind of stumpers all the time from friends who expect me to be able to find a place where my buddy the Lineman for the County and my pal the Bearded Seattle Hipster will both be happy.

                                                  But I don't think it's controversial to suggest that you'll have more fun when you can match the bar to the drinker and your drinking to the bar. You don't order a Sazerac at the Drinking Fountain, and I might wonder why you bothered to make your way to Drink if all you want is a vodka and soda.

                                                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                              3. re: Gabatta

                                                If they are going to be offended when someone asks for a beer then they shouldn't even sell it!

                                            2. re: T.Clark

                                              Yeah, I've never seen John not be awesome, even when faced with the chocolatini crowds.

                                              1. re: jgg13

                                                I put the blame on me and my failed attempt to enlighten, not on Drink. Some of the group really enjoyed it. Some just like their Bud Light. Oh well.

                                                1. re: T.Clark

                                                  The couple times I've gone to drink w/ folks like that I just tell them to not order beer and just describe drinks they like instead of asking for something in particular. So far, so good.

                                                  OTOH, since you mentioned bud lite - there are a couple of places (notably the publick house) that I will *not* bring folks like that, simply because the staff are waaaaaay too douchey about it.

                                                  1. re: jgg13

                                                    I thought I made it clear to the group (I think there were 6 couples) that this was not your average bar. So come with, but only if you're slightly experimental with your usual poison. A great group of friends, but some are true blue meat & potato (and yes Bud drinking) Yankees.
                                                    It was a little over a year ago so my memory is fuzzy on this, but I had an awesome drink that started with some sort of incense like burning brass thurible looking device. Awesome! Anyone know what it was?

                                                    1. re: jgg13

                                                      They have beer at Drink. A couple different options. Wine, also.

                                                      1. re: jgg13

                                                        If someone doesn't enjoy Drink, odds are it is because they have a narrow comfort zone, little knowledge of cocktails ,and the person who invited them there didn't explain what the situation was.

                                                        I can't blame the bartenders at Drink for not giving amazing service to someone who orders beer there. It is basically telling the bartender, "I don't care that you claim to make amazing drinks, give me a Harpoon." Not that they should be rude to that customer, but don't expect anything more than decent service. Hopefully that person doesn't return, freeing up a seat for someone who cares about good cocktails.

                                                        The only service issue I have had at Drink was a couple weeks ago on the sunday before Presidents Day. They had their normal number of sunday employees. Don't know how they didn't expect it to be a busy night with most people not working the next day. It was still fun, just could have been better.

                                                        1. re: Kinopio

                                                          actually, while i've never ordered a beer there, from what i've seen they have a small but well curated beer list.

                                                          1. re: jgg13

                                                            I'm not knocking their beer list nor Harpoon. I just mentioned Harpoon because I saw a couple people drinking it there recently.

                                                          2. re: Kinopio

                                                            The guy was happy drinking his beer. I don't really blame the bartender either. If I were a bartender at Drink, then I probably would feel it was a waste of time/stool space too. I wouldn't make a good bartender.

                                                            My point in posting was to highlight my experience with brining people into the cocktail fold, and the reactions I observed. Not only the reaction of Drink's bartenders, but those of the cocktail neophytes who thought they would be interested, but it just wasn't their thing. Nobody in the group hated Drink (some loved it and have returned) or thought the service was snooty. What I wrote were my observations as I sat back and watched how the newbies interacted with the Drink experience. I learned a lot and enjoyed the experiment.

                                                      1. re: Beachowolfe

                                                        Yes, which make me one by default.

                                                  2. re: MC Slim JB

                                                    Well that was the weird part. It wasn't like the bartender was a jerk all night long. He was perfectly nice and helpful to me and Mr (why I didn't leave). And when that lone guy finally did order a drink, the bartender was attitude-free but still... why make lone customer feel uncomfortable within the first five minutes of the customer's arrival?

                                                    It was not warm and fuzzy. The bar staff at Drink seemed all business. In comparison at ESK the bartender often tells me a little story about the drink when serving it. I like that. I like a little human interaction. That's why you go out, right?

                                                    1. re: heypielady

                                                      Heypielady, that's interesting because it is so very different from the experiences that I've had. Most times that I've been to Drink (maybe 3 out of 5?) I've felt as though the service was very personal, and I've received exactly the kind of treatment that you describe - conversations about the history of a drink, leading to the perusal of books that they keep behind the bar, samples of special concoctions that they've been working on, etc. Maybe I give off some sort of "knowing the secret handshake" vibe, if so I can only attribute it to being legitimately curious and outwardly appreciative of what they bartenders are doing. I'm not saying that everyone should go out of their way to ingratiate themselves to the bartenders, and I don't do in any kind of conscious way.

                                                      I'm particularly struck by the fact that you get that warm and fuzzy vibe from ESK, because our experiences couldn't possibly be more opposed. I think they make great drinks, but I've always found their service to be curt and civil, nothing more. I can only speculate that luck has something to do with it, as well as maybe the differences in style between the two places.

                                                      1. re: celeriac

                                                        You're probably right about the luck thing, celeriac. My experience, which was by no means terrible, could have been completely different if I had sat at a different station.

                                                        It's not like I will never go back here. If my friends on the other side of the river want to get drinks, I like it just fine. But there are few things that trump a bar you can walk to.

                                            3. re: Beachowolfe

                                              Yea, I wasn't planning on taking them to Lucky's-- I was hoping to get into Drink. But that failed.

                                              Eastern Standard is great-- but from my experience, it can be very crowded on Sat nights. I've gone there a bunch-- the scene is young girls (they're just prettier and better dressed) and older men trying to hit on them! lol

                                              I was also considering Woodward-- anyone know of the scene there on a Sat night? I've been meaning to check it out for a while...

                                              -----
                                              Eastern Standard
                                              528 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215

                                              1. re: your_outreach

                                                Woodward is still a scene too, line trying to get in etc etc. Ames has been a hotspot since it opened. Franklin Cafe opened a location in Southie and could have been a quick trip from Lucky's, Nice spot with some outdoor seating!
                                                http://bostonfoodanddrink.com/

                                                1. re: bostonfoodanddrink

                                                  Good to know! Had no idea Franklin opened another local. I love that place! Would have gladly brought them there as well, but was worried about the crowd since it's pretty small.

                                                  Still would want to check out Woodward. I'll go with friends-- we're all used to lines at our age, lol. I try to get to bars early so I don't wait in lines, but then that leaves a lot of hours to have to pay for expensive drinks...

                                                  1. re: bostonfoodanddrink

                                                    the self-consciousness of "we're oh-so-very hip" at woodward was a mad turn-off for me.

                                                    the weeknight crowd at lucky's is mostly younger suits from the local law and financial firms.

                                                    saturday night almost anyplace is b&t and it's one of the reasons i don't go out that night.

                                                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                      I will keep that in mind if I'm single and looking to pick up a lawyer! ;-)

                                                      Stupid question... what does b&t stand for?

                                                      1. re: your_outreach

                                                        Bridge and Tunnel - It's a Manhattan sneer at the folks coming into the city from the outer boroughs....like, say, Hingham or Weston.

                                                        1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                                          think more like revere and quincy and we've used that term for weeeknd peeps for at least 15 years.

                                                          i work in that area now and am shocked every weekend at the mile-long lines for whiskey priest and the conditions of the kids staggering and falling on the ground after they leave. police presence is a constant and i see somebody getting arrested almost every saturday.

                                                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                            I was at atlantic beer garden a few weekends ago. It was fine for what it was, at least until nightfall at which point the place became total mayhem. The volume of the stereo cranked up about 30 decibels all at once, the girls got skankier and the guys got more roid ridden. People were bouncing between there and whiskey priest - falling all over themselves, barging through groups, being increasingly obnoxious, etc. I left soon after :)

                                                          2. re: Bob Dobalina

                                                            Though I'd suggest that most of the Boston "B&T" crowds that support our nightclubs and scene-y restaurants come from less-snooty suburbs on the North and South Shores. The weekend scenes in the Liberty Hotel and Ames Hotel powder rooms are more Jersey Shore than Dover / Sherborn.

                                                            http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                              So where exactly do the go-getters from Dover/Sherborn go? Just BBQ in the backyard? Key parties? I am always surprised by the lack of serviceable "hip" places in those communities. Maybe I just answered my own question.

                                                              1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                                                lol, yes, they bbq, bu when they come into town, they're not bar crawling. they have diner at places like clio, rialto and abe & louie's.

                                                    2. re: your_outreach

                                                      I was at Eastern Standard this past Saturday (10:30 to close) and it wasn't very crowded, but then again it's August. Cocktails and service as good as ever, but the dessert I ordered (blueberry buckle) was lacking. The scene was not bad for a weekend, but then I was mostly paying attention to my lovely friends and not the rest of the crowd.

                                                      -----
                                                      Eastern Standard
                                                      528 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215

                                                      1. re: bella_sarda

                                                        I was also there on Saturday night- and it really wasn't a bad crowd at all- we sat for dinner immediately around 8 pm. Aside from a rowdy group on the patio next to us- it was a great evening there- and I finally tried the butterscotch bread pudding- WOW now I know why everyone loves it so!

                                            4. re: bella_sarda

                                              just stay away from the "Kobe" burger at Lucky's...worst burger i've had in recent memory, and a ripoff to boot

                                              1. re: barleywino

                                                the duck burger's pretty good though.

                                            5. We're regulars at Drink, but the only way I'd ever go there Thurs thru Sat is if I could get there way early, right at opening. Frankly, I prefer the less popular nights so we can actually have a conversation with the bar staff, since one of the main reasons we like the place so much is due to the awesome people who work there.

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: litchick

                                                Exactly. I'm a big fun of Sunday afternoons/early evenings at Drink. If you're lucky they're having Tiki time.

                                                1. re: bobot

                                                  We had some amazing tiki drinks on our last visit to Drink, a Singapore Sling and a Test Pilot? (something Pilot anyway). They were both incredible.

                                              2. barbara lynch has balls...good for her.drink is crowded.great.the mai tai's are mind blowing.stop whining about the lines...and always have a backup plan.cheers.

                                                1. We tried to go to Drink Friday night, but saw the line and went to eat at Sportello instead (we were hungry, so it kind of worked out). On the way out, there was still a line. Folks were talking about being on "the list." I didn't take the time to find out what the list was all about--if you can call ahead to get on it or such. Just figured I'd go on a weekday.

                                                  -----
                                                  Sportello
                                                  348 Congress Street, Boston, MA 02110

                                                  1. We've moved a subthread about vodka drinks to the Spirits board, at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/769056