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Best Weekend Bar?

Ok, so the thread about Drink spurred another question! I am 23, so I definitely go out every weekend and I don't really mind most scenes since I'm with a big group of friends and don't notice the rest. I do hate lines, but sometimes I don't get to choose where we're going, so I can't always avoid them.

That being said, I think I'd much rather prefer a place that has great drinks, no attitude, and a crowd of solid people who are neither obnoxious or annoying. Looks like that might be a hard thing to find on a Saturday night!

What are you suggestions?

Honestly, from my experience thus far, I can't give an example of a great Saturday night experience in Boston. It's usually filled with drunk 20-somethings looking to hook up. I guess from my Allston days, I did enjoy Great Scott! But I'm no longer big in the hipster scene and I don't know if I'd like it anymore.

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  1. I do most of my weekend drinking during the day (so I might not be the best source), but I've become a big fan of Whiskey Priest in the Seaport. Both the inside and the rooftop deck are much nicer than ABG next door. The crowd is also a lot more laid back.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mkfisher

      From my one experience down that way (so also not the best source) both that place and ABG change pretty radically when the sun goes down - not unlike Sunnydale

    2. When you say "big group of friends," how many are we talking?

      1 Reply
      1. re: Bob Dobalina

        Well, it varies, from 4 or 5 to around 10.

      2. This is a suggestion likely to be panned, but you might want to ask this same question over on yelp. Just make sure to convey exactly the sort of atmosphere that you're looking for, usually these sorts of questions end up with anything/everything being suggested.

        19 Replies
          1. re: Alcachofa

            Well, not to be rude, but I ask this question here because I respect the opinions of a lot of people who post on chowhound and I'd be interested to learn what they're favorite weekend bars are.

            1. re: your_outreach

              But you're asking about atmosphere, not food or specific drinks.

              1. re: Alcachofa

                Well I am asking about drinks as well, but if atmosphere wasn't important than no one here would talk about service or restaurant decor.

                1. re: your_outreach

                  No, you're not. You're asking, "where's a bar I can go to"? Not, "where's the bar with the freshest Belgian beer on tap". See the difference? I didn't say service or atmosphere was irrelevant, but it is secondary for this forum. That's basically all you're asking for you and your posse.

              2. re: your_outreach

                Sorry, I wasn't telling you that you shouldn't have asked here, just that you should go there as well :)

                If it helps any, I'm having a similar crisis these days myself, albeit over 10 years later :) The fancy places are often fancier than I want, the d-bag places have d-bags, a lot of my old haunts apparently have become d-bag places (or I'm just more stodgy), and a lot of the places that I do like get too crowded for my tastes. It's a tough world ;)

                Edit: The places I mentioned that I liked but get too crowded for me: Trina's, Lord Hobo, Green St, Russell House, Cambridge Brewing, Atwoods (later on), Cambridge Common, Deep Ellum

                Also, it's funny but when my friends & I are trying to off the cuff come up with a plan, we always end up at some divey place because we can't navigate the minefield I described above. That's fine, but we always say we're not going to do that :)

                1. re: jgg13

                  audobon circle is pretty laid back but maybe more suitable for 5 instead 10. toad, atwoods, and plough & stars always have live music and are also low-key, but also very small.

                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                    I haven't been to Toad in ages and ages. Maybe I should rectify that.

                    On the other two, not sure how I forgot about P&S considering it's a block away from me. For me, it suffers from the same problem that I have with Atwoods, which is that on nights when I'm looking to socialize instead of listening to music (most nights when I'm out) I have to deal with the combo of cover charge, extra crowds and loud music. What's worse is that in both cases I've had the cover applied even after I'm already there - which I can tell you is the quickest way to make sure I leave the bar ("Sir, if you'd like to stay it'll be $10" ... "Uhh, how about I don't pay the cover and cease giving money to your establishment tonight")

                    1. re: jgg13

                      That's just a failure of marketing - it should be something like "Sir, the band is mostly broke and starving...literally starving...would you help pay for a quart or two of motor oil to help keep their touring jalopy rolling to the next show?"

                      1. re: jgg13

                        toad never has a cover and i frequent certain nights when friends play there. good micro-brew selection for my b/f and strong inexpensive absolut and soda for me. laid-back vibe and an eclectic mix of peeps for sure.

                        also over that way is temple bar and cambridge commons. scenes of very different sorts.

                        besides not wanting a hook-up scene, we still don't really know what the op wants. (and i'm sorry, but i thought 20-somethings always wanted to hook up. i know i did. ;)

                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                          Haha! I have a boyfriend, so luckily I don't have to look for guys at bars anymore... thank god!

                    2. re: jgg13

                      Deep Ellum is a good one! Haven't been there in a while. I do like Green St, but it feels more like a restaurant than a bar-- aka small bar.

                      I never make it out to Inman for drinks... should go there sometime!

                      I can't believe summer is almost over... it won't be long before I'm hibernating at home during the weekends :-(

                      -----
                      Deep Ellum Bar
                      477 Cambridge St, Allston, MA 02134

                      1. re: your_outreach

                        That's why I asked about the size of your party. I think most hounds would consider Green Street has having a perfectly adequately sized bar area. (I mean, it's a separate bar area....) Likewise, I would not suggest your party of 5+ go to Chez Henri, because it is so small.

                        Generally speaking, most places with big bars are not going to be doing the craft cocktail thing, because those places tend to be more about volume, almost by necessity.

                        I might even hypothesize that there is an inverse proportion between the size of the bar and the overall quality of the cocktail making.

                        An exception to this would be Drink, but that's their thing. Eastern Standard also probably falls under the exception category.

                        I might also hypothesize that this is all driven by the market - that as the patrons get older, start pairing off, stop drinking to excess, getting married, having kids, etc., said patrons start going out in smaller groups and generally drinking less. So said patrons want to savor a couple of excellent cocktails rather than be in a room with a dozen of their friends and hundreds of onlookers.

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

                        Chez Henri
                        1 Shepard Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

                        1. re: Bob Dobalina

                          I'm supposedto stop drinking to excess?

                          1. re: jgg13

                            Sort of - seems that most folks switch from swilling a case of Coors Light to a few glasses of fine single malt scotch...it's all about volume.

                          2. re: Bob Dobalina

                            I would add Bukowski's for beer. Silvertone is a great bar/restaurant. The Independent in Union Sq. Audubon is my favorite but you could also hit Miracle of Science and Tory Row. Charlies Kitchen/Beer Garden is also a great place. I haven't been to Gallow's but it is getting great reviews.

                            None of these places would be great for a crowd of 10, but I feel as though these are the bars people start to gravitate towards when looking for a chiller vibe, with good beer and food. They are not known for their cocktails but others have already mentioned the best bars for that.

                            Check of drinkboston.com - lots of good suggestions there!

                            -----
                            Silvertone
                            69 Bromfield St, Boston, MA 02108

                            Bukowski's
                            1281 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                            Tory Row
                            3 Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138

                            1. re: drewames03

                              Charlies upstairs is one of those Old Faithfuls that I mentioned previously that we always seem to end up at for one reason or another. Not fancy by any means, but it does the trick. Another one I like over that way, but not during the summer (too crowded) is Shays.

                        2. re: jgg13

                          What's the "best" bar for different types of irritants? I don't get out as much these days, 20 years later. I remember the Sligo being good for a nice yah dood/d-bag/ironic hipster/keno-playing-septuagenarians-in-flannel mix.

                          1. re: nsenada

                            I was going to suggest Sligo as a great example of a "dive" when the OP tried to call Lucky's a dive in the original thread.

                  2. since I was 23 until now (I'm 29) my favorite "going out" fun bar remains Middlesex. It's not a quiet place to have a drink with friends, there is good, loud music to dance to, good drinks, friendly bartenders and a laid back crowd who are genuinely friendly and fun - although you'll probably always encounter people out on a Saturday night who are looking to hook up :)

                    To give you a feel of what else I love/dislike strongly:
                    dislike strongly - pretty much any bar downtown/fanieul hall area, The Alley, Boylston Street
                    love - Bukowski, Other Side, Rivergods, Great Scott, Miracle of Science, Lord Hobo (and B-side when it was that), Enormous Room

                    good luck!

                    -----
                    Other Side Cafe
                    407 Newbury St, Boston, MA 02115

                    Enormous Room
                    569 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139

                    Bukowski's
                    1281 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                    Lord Hobo
                    92 Hampshire St, Cambridge, MA 02141

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: julieapfel

                      Great recs! I really want to try out Middlesex-- must go this weekend!

                      1. re: your_outreach

                        If you are going to Middlesex make sure to get there before 10. After that the place fills up and you will be standing in line for quite awhile, probably at least half an hour. Its also tough to get a drink there but its a breeze compared to Enormous Room down the street. That place gets way too crowded and their bar is the size of a closet.

                        -----
                        Enormous Room
                        569 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139

                        1. re: Kinopio

                          I haven't enjoyed the enormous room since about 2-3 months after it opened (which was about the time that the masses found it). Once it got too crowded to comfortably lounge around on the sofas, the point was kind of lost. The last time I was there it seemed that people had taken to dancing in that space, which seemed idiotic to me, but they're the ones that go there, not me. That they can't make a decent manhattan was the icing on the cake for me, I'm afraid.

                      2. re: julieapfel

                        I second Middlesex as a fun place. We've enjoyed many a drunken birthday party there for one of our dear friends. :)