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a craft cocktail "crawl"

ChinaCat Sep 29, 2011 07:29 AM

For my husbands birthday next month, I've decided to do something different. Rather than just take him to a nice restaurant for dinner, I'm going to book a limo for the evening and then bar hop. We'd like places known for their excellent bartending, but also with good small plates to nosh on. Also, I think relatively spacious bars, so we have a decent chance of finding seats. I realize this won't always happen, but it would be nice to sit some of the time. It will probably be a Friday night.

He loves Eastern Standard, so thats likely to be one stop.

Some others I'm considering: Clink, Clio, the Oak Bar, Meritage.

I think it might be fun to try one of the places on the seaport with a view, perhaps the new Legals.

I'm thinking to stick to the Boston side of the river...I know there are some great bars in Cambridge, so I'm just eliminating it for simplicity.

What places are your favorites?

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

Meritage Restaurant
70 Rowes Wharf, Boston, MA 02110

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  1. r
    robwat36 RE: ChinaCat Sep 29, 2011 07:41 AM

    Fun. Do Clio, Island Creek, Eastern Standard, and Deuxave, and you won't even need the limo.

    1 Reply
    1. re: robwat36
      ChinaCat RE: robwat36 Sep 29, 2011 08:09 AM

      I live in the 'burbs...so I need the limo to get to Boston in the first place. Anyway, that's part of the fun :)

      Thanks for the suggestions!

    2. Alcachofa RE: ChinaCat Sep 29, 2011 08:15 AM

      Craigie first, so that you can get a seat. Then Green Street. > Eastern Standard. > Clio. > Drink. > Finish at No. 9 Park. You might need to skip Drink, actually, depending on time--might not get a seat. Eliminating Cambridge if you have a limo is silly, so I ignored that.

      Clink, Meritage, Oak Bar: not really known for their cocktails, though Oak Bar is OK if you must. Is it still open?

      19 Replies
      1. re: Alcachofa
        barleywino RE: Alcachofa Sep 29, 2011 08:25 AM

        agree with Al's list although I might be tempted to replace Green st with Russell House tavern, and you can do Blue for comic relief (liquid nitrogen, campari foam etc)

        1. re: Alcachofa
          d
          DoubleMan RE: Alcachofa Sep 29, 2011 09:30 AM

          Good list. I'd throw Island Creek in for a nice one-two with ES.

          I could go for a Prospect Park and some tartare at ES followed by some oyster sliders and a drink from Tommy at Island Creek. Once Hawthorne opens that's going to be a block full of win.

          1. re: DoubleMan
            n
            Northender RE: DoubleMan Sep 30, 2011 07:55 AM

            What's in a ES Prospect Park? I grew up a block away from its namesake so I am embarrassed that I do not know this one.

            1. re: Northender
              yarm RE: Northender Sep 30, 2011 08:41 AM

              1 1/2 oz RH100 rye, 1 1/2 oz Aperol, 1/2 oz Luxardo Maraschino, 1/2 oz Punt e Mes. Stir with ice,strain into a coupe glass, garnish with a cherry.

              http://cocktailvirgin.blogspot.com/

              1. re: yarm
                k
                kimfair1 RE: yarm Sep 30, 2011 10:57 AM

                Damn fine drink!

          2. re: Alcachofa
            tammyh RE: Alcachofa Sep 29, 2011 09:49 AM

            I was going to recommend Hungry Mother, but she's not doing anything North of the River ...

            -----
            Hungry Mother
            Cambridge, MA, Cambridge, MA

            1. re: Alcachofa
              ecwashere7 RE: Alcachofa Sep 29, 2011 07:11 PM

              definitely second No. 9. Still has the soul that Drink lost way back when.

              I've always been happy with Stoddard's but I can see why people wouldn't include it either.

              If you're including Cambridge, Russell House Tavern, Craigie and Green Street are musts.

              -----
              Russell House Tavern
              14 JFK Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

              1. re: ecwashere7
                h
                hckybg RE: ecwashere7 Sep 29, 2011 07:34 PM

                I had a really nice visit to Stoddard's about a month ago, and it was very comfortably uncrowded on a Saturday night. It definitely exceeded my expectations.

                1. re: ecwashere7
                  lipoff RE: ecwashere7 Sep 29, 2011 09:59 PM

                  Russell House Tavern?!? For real? Some decent small plates (love the fried poached egg) although maybe a little inconsistent. Great location and nice vibe. But the bar?!?

                  Two anecdotes: Upstairs a few months ago, my friend ordered bourbon. It came in a WARM glass. When he told the bartender, the guy responded "so?" Not the waiter --- we were sitting at the bar. Downstairs, just a couple weeks ago, I ordered a mocktail. What came was intensely alocholic. When I told the waiter he said "the bartender swears there's not a drop of alcohol in there" and walked away. Five minutes later he comes back and says maybe he made a mistake. No kidding. The mocktail they came back with later was nothing but fruit punch. I give them props for naming a cocktail the "Kobayashi Maru", and their cocktail menu may be ambitious, but, like much of their food menu, the execution doesn't live up the promise of the menu.

                  -----
                  Russell House Tavern
                  14 JFK Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

                  1. re: lipoff
                    barleywino RE: lipoff Sep 29, 2011 10:32 PM

                    Have you tried any of their (alcoholic) cocktails? (I had the impression you were a teetotaller) Although i enjoy mocktails too on occasion, I wouldn't judge a bar on the basis of how well they make nonalcoholic drinks. The several (alcoholic) cocktails I've tried at RHT were creative, well balanced and executed. Execution may depend which bartender is serving, though. Their head guy Aaron, formerly at Drink, is one of the best in town. Not all of their food is as good as it sounds, but better than Green St imo.

                    1. re: barleywino
                      Alcachofa RE: barleywino Sep 30, 2011 06:00 AM

                      I will add that the mocktails are inconsistent. When Mrs. Alcachofa was "in a family way", she had a couple mocktails there. One was great, the other was as ordinary as you can get.

                      'wino, do you happen to know if there are still doing barrel-aged stuff there?

                      1. re: Alcachofa
                        barleywino RE: Alcachofa Sep 30, 2011 06:37 AM

                        haven't asked lately... i tried a barrel aged manhattan at Marliave but to be honest it didn't do much for me

                      2. re: barleywino
                        lipoff RE: barleywino Oct 1, 2011 10:27 PM

                        I've sipped some alcoholic cocktails there, but you're right that I haven't had a full glass of any myself. And I apologize for not being clear about that. But I felt my friend's very warm glass for a quite expensive boubon followed by strong indifference. Of course, these are just a few anecdotes, but I think they are telling. I won't deny that some particular bartender or some specific drink is particularly good there, but I've never witnessed mistakes or indfference like that at places that I think are among the top bar programs in Boston. While mocktails do not always track with the overall quality of a bar, there does seem to be a corelation --- the most creative and knowledgeable bartenders are often able to put together a terriifc mocktail, whether a classic (i.e. non-alcoholic mojito) or a modification of one of their own speciality cocktails.

                      3. re: lipoff
                        g
                        Gabatta RE: lipoff Sep 30, 2011 11:25 AM

                        Gotta agree on RHT. The bar service there is a bad joke. They are a serious cocktail destination in their own PR only. I have had some truly miserable experiences there which I have previously posted about. This place isn't in the same league with Green Street in terms of the bar.

                        1. re: Gabatta
                          barleywino RE: Gabatta Sep 30, 2011 11:39 AM

                          RHT bartenders (excepting Aaron) do seem to be pretty indifferent sometimes. i've also encountered bad service at Green st though (last time i left and swore i'd never go back).

                      4. re: ecwashere7
                        yarm RE: ecwashere7 Sep 30, 2011 12:52 PM

                        I wouldn't say always happy with Stoddard's, but they got their act together in the last year or so and started measuring, developed an ice program, and focused on consistency. The 4 or 5 bartenders who have made me drinks in my last 4 visits have impressed me. A great place to get some classics that only a few places like Green Street (on their big menu) seem to remember these days.

                        1. re: yarm
                          k
                          kimfair1 RE: yarm Oct 20, 2011 12:20 PM

                          Sat at the bar last Saturday evening, had Jaime, the bar manager as our bartender, and he was spectacular. Their flaming Zombie was a thing to behold.

                          1. re: yarm
                            k
                            kimfair1 RE: yarm Oct 20, 2011 12:21 PM

                            Sat at the bar at Stoddard's
                            last Saturday evening, had Jaime, the bar manager as our bartender, and he was spectacular. Their flaming Zombie was a thing to behold!

                        2. re: Alcachofa
                          yarm RE: Alcachofa Sep 30, 2011 08:44 AM

                          Finishing at No. 9 Park means that you have to get there before their last call at midnight. But showing up after the diners have left around 10pm is the best way to get a seat at the bar (plus, they don't care if you don't order food at that point where as before that you are causing them to lose revenue by just ordering drinks). Although No. 9 Park does have a small lounge area where they will gladly serve you (as well as other tables).

                          http://cocktailvirgin.blogspot.com/

                        3. a
                          antimony RE: ChinaCat Sep 29, 2011 09:40 AM

                          Citzen's Public was wonderful when I went, but I've only been once. It might fail the "spacious" criteria, but it's a few blocks from Eastern Standard and Island Creek, so no biggie if it's crowded.

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

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: antimony
                            yarm RE: antimony Sep 30, 2011 08:49 AM

                            Citizen gets less traffic since it is off the beat path (not next to the subway stops like Clio, ES, and ICOB). But between those 4, Kenmore Square (I'm throwing Clio in there since its a 5 minute walk or so) is a good destination for hopping. And soon, there will be Hawthorne making 5 (I believe it is opening up in October and I already know 2 of the bartenders who are starting in the line up).

                            Central Square is great with Craigie, Rendezvous, and Green Street.

                            The problem with Drink is that nothing is near by so if the place is packed or if you will only go in if you can sit at the actual bar and speak to the bartender, there is nothing around to bide your time or use as a fall back plan. Well, Lucky's if you've just ditched the concept of craft cocktails.

                            http://cocktailvirgin.blogspot.com/

                            1. re: yarm
                              barleywino RE: yarm Sep 30, 2011 09:43 AM

                              what do you think of Storyville?

                              1. re: barleywino
                                yarm RE: barleywino Sep 30, 2011 09:55 AM

                                I really want to see why Ryan McGrale (was at No. 9 Park before going to Flatiron Lounge in Manhattan before returning back to Boston a few weeks ago) is up to, but I am not sure about the place especially since it is a club. Apparently, a lot of the staff and bartenders are the same as when it was the Saint. And bar manager English Bill isn't known for whipping his staff into shape (as evidenced at the Woodward) and from what I've read on Yelp, that those bartenders pour drinks like it was the Saint. I've been on the fence about it and I'm waiting for someone to report back something positive before I go there over our long list of haunts.

                                1. re: yarm
                                  barleywino RE: yarm Sep 30, 2011 11:41 AM

                                  yeah i'm mainly interested in going if Ryan is there

                            2. re: antimony
                              Mike5966 RE: antimony Nov 9, 2011 12:34 PM

                              The "Ideal Manhattan" at Citizen Public is truly delicious. I think the difference is a tiny splash of St. Germain and some grapefruit bitters in addition to regular angostura bitters. You can't really detect the floral notes from the St. Germain, and all you taste is an even more well-balanced, very savory version of a regular Manhattan.

                            3. ChinaCat RE: ChinaCat Sep 30, 2011 10:12 AM

                              Thanks for all the great suggestions. I encourage those who have particular favorite cocktails at places to include those, as that just fun.

                              The idea of going to #9 Park later in the evening is a good one. I wasn't planning on including it, simply because I didn't want to take up space not ordering dinner.

                              And I think you all have convinced me I have to include Cambridge. I've never been to Green Street and want to try it. I've been to Craigie once for dinner and wasn't crazy about the dining room, but might like the bar better.

                              I'd forgotten about Drink in my original list. Was thinking to include it, but figured it might be too crowded. Is it a place that is likely to be worse later in the evening (after the normal dinner hour)? Maybe that's someplace I should start?

                              -----
                              #9 Park
                              Boston, Boston, MA

                              42 Replies
                              1. re: ChinaCat
                                h
                                hckybg RE: ChinaCat Sep 30, 2011 10:38 AM

                                Others can offer their opinions, but I'd actually caution you on Green Street. I think they make great cocktails, but the bar gets extremely crowded on weekends and they do not usually allow people to sit in the other room unless you are eating. If like me you aren't too tall, the narrow bar area means you can look forward to lots of elbows in your face and near your drink. On a weeknight, I'd say it's a must, however. I've had only good experiences with the drinks at Trina's in Inman Square and find it is much more roomy even if you are standing in the bar area. That's another option in the same general vicinity, if you do go to Green Street and find it too full.

                                1. re: ChinaCat
                                  r
                                  robwat36 RE: ChinaCat Sep 30, 2011 12:10 PM

                                  There is no good time on a Friday to guarantee seats (or even no line) at Drink. I love Green Street, but it's too casual for your purposes. Rendezvous nearby has very good cocktails and a nice, relatively quiet bar.

                                  1. re: robwat36
                                    yarm RE: robwat36 Sep 30, 2011 12:55 PM

                                    4pm right after Drink opens.

                                    That place has gotten so crowded that we can't even get seats on the off nights (Sunday through Wednesday). It has discouraged us from trying since we don't want to stand off in the corner and interact with someone other than the bartender.

                                    1. re: yarm
                                      d
                                      DoubleMan RE: yarm Oct 1, 2011 04:24 AM

                                      Yeah, it's sad. There is so much talent there, but I'll only go if I can somehow get there when the doors open. I'm hoping that Hawthorne will offer another bar that brings it to another level like Drink does (at least when you get some time with a bartender who knows you) that you can actually get a drink at. I hope they can do something to manage the crowds better than Drink has - reservations, perhaps. I'd love to see part reservations and part first-come, first-served and limiting to very few or no people standing.

                                      1. re: DoubleMan
                                        yarm RE: DoubleMan Oct 1, 2011 06:44 AM

                                        Just go during the first 6-12 months before the buzz picks up and people who are into hip places more than craft cocktails start swarming there due to all of the reviews. And then back off disgruntled over the next 6-12 months. And then start hoping that the next place is opening up...

                                        Speaking of new places, Backbar is opening up in a month or so. It's the bar for Journeyman in Union Square, Somerville. Sam Treadway (ex-Drink, ex-Eastern Standard) is coming back from Hawaii to run their bar program. I got to see the space two days ago and it looks like it will be a cool, intimate bar. Plus, not being near a subway might keep the crowds down, but luckily for me, it is walking distance.

                                        http://cocktailvirgin.blogspot.com/

                                        1. re: yarm
                                          l
                                          LeoLioness RE: yarm Oct 3, 2011 07:03 AM

                                          Yarm, can you tell me a bit more about the space? I've only peeked in Journeyman while getting their barbeque, so I'm trying to figure out where the bar would be. Is it in the main room? Any idea of how many seats? Also, I've read reviews that talk about Journeyman's lack of music in the dining room, does it seem like that will be the case for the bar as well?

                                          1. re: LeoLioness
                                            yarm RE: LeoLioness Oct 3, 2011 07:29 AM

                                            It will be connected to the main room but it is behind the space (think past the bathrooms). When I paced the wood-frame of the bar itself, I guessed 10 seats and was corrected that it would probably be one less with the service area there. There will be a row of tables against the long wall of the rectangular room. The bar itself is on the back half of the other long wall. The bar will provide libations for the restaurant, and the restaurant will provide food for the bar (not a tasting menu, but small dishes).

                                            We did not speak about music. I imagine that there would be. I would prefer there to be none if the other choice was too loud (Bukowski's, Drink, Deep Ellum, and other places are all guilty of this travesty). It probably couldn't be too loud or else it would bleed into the restaurant.

                                            http://cocktailvirgin.blogspot.com/

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

                                            1. re: yarm
                                              l
                                              LeoLioness RE: yarm Oct 3, 2011 09:33 AM

                                              Thanks for the information! From what I've heard (and my experiences with their barbeque), I'm much more interested in the cocktails at Journeyman than committing to a full tasting menu, so I'm really looking forward to this.

                                              1. re: LeoLioness
                                                yarm RE: LeoLioness Oct 3, 2011 11:51 AM

                                                I have enjoyed two magnificent tasting menus at Journeyman, but unfortunately finances do not allow me to do this regularly, so yes, I'll be there more often too!

                                        2. re: DoubleMan
                                          barleywino RE: DoubleMan Oct 29, 2011 08:25 PM

                                          I heard it will be no-standing, and ryan mcgrale/nicole lebedovitch will be involved.

                                          1. re: barleywino
                                            Alcachofa RE: barleywino Oct 30, 2011 11:39 AM

                                            Hawthorne or Storyville?

                                            1. re: Alcachofa
                                              barleywino RE: Alcachofa Oct 30, 2011 03:24 PM

                                              Hawthorne, supposedly

                                              1. re: barleywino
                                                r
                                                rlee21 RE: barleywino Oct 30, 2011 05:21 PM

                                                Last I've heard, Nicole Lebedevitch (formerly of ES), Scott Marshall (formerly of Drink) and Ryan Lotz (formerly of Lineage) will be at Hawthorne. Slated to open sometime in November.

                                                1. re: rlee21
                                                  yarm RE: rlee21 Oct 31, 2011 07:22 AM

                                                  Besides Ryan, Ryan, Scott, and Nicole, there is also a bartender coming from Death & Co in Manhattan. And the general manager will be Matthew Schrage who used to bartend at No. 9 Park before moving on to Menton.

                                                  http://cocktailvirgin.blogspot.com/

                                                  -----
                                                  No. 9 Park
                                                  9 Park Street, Boston, MA 02108

                                                  Menton
                                                  354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

                                                  1. re: yarm
                                                    Alcachofa RE: yarm Oct 31, 2011 09:57 AM

                                                    Wow.

                                                    1. re: yarm
                                                      barleywino RE: yarm Nov 8, 2011 08:16 PM

                                                      Supposedly Brick & Mortar will be opening inthe Enormous Room in cambridge, with Misty Kalkofen and Evan Harrison

                                                      1. re: barleywino
                                                        yarm RE: barleywino Nov 9, 2011 06:38 AM

                                                        I know that Evan left Deep Ellum recently because he wanted to work on this side of the river. Didn't think Misty would leave Drink though for she wants to travel more, bartend less. Perhaps she is only doing a shift or two or helping her old boss from the B-side set up shop?

                                                        http://cocktailvirgin.blogspot.com/

                                                        1. re: barleywino
                                                          l
                                                          LeoLioness RE: barleywino Nov 9, 2011 07:47 AM

                                                          Do you have any more info on this place?

                                                          I'm a big Evan Harrison fan from when he was at the Independent. A very nice guy with some good bartending chops. I'm happy he's returning to my side of the river.

                                                          1. re: LeoLioness
                                                            barleywino RE: LeoLioness Nov 9, 2011 08:24 AM

                                                            nothing more, sorry -- maybe somebody else can chime in

                                                          2. re: barleywino
                                                            yarm RE: barleywino Nov 9, 2011 12:49 PM

                                                            I just got informal confirmation that Misty Kalkofen will be running the bar program at Brick & Mortar. She used to work with Patrick Sullivan back at the B-Side so she will be re-united with her old boss.

                                                            1. re: yarm
                                                              r
                                                              rlee21 RE: yarm Nov 9, 2011 12:57 PM

                                                              That's big news. Seems like the Drink diaspora is expanding rather rapidly

                                                              1. re: rlee21
                                                                yarm RE: rlee21 Nov 9, 2011 01:35 PM

                                                                The only bartender import that I know of at Drink is Jeff Grdinich from the White Mountain Cider Co. (also involved with BAR certification etc.). Any one have more 4-1-1 about new talent at Drink?

                                                                1. re: rlee21
                                                                  MC Slim JB RE: rlee21 Nov 9, 2011 02:33 PM

                                                                  Upon reflection, I don't think the Drink diaspora is all that surprising. After a while, it must get wearying, deflecting the orders of hordes of extra-dirty vodka martini drinkers every night. It seems like proportion of drinkers who aren't really into the spirit of the place grows every time I visit.

                                                                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                  1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                    l
                                                                    LeoLioness RE: MC Slim JB Nov 9, 2011 02:52 PM

                                                                    Ha, I thought the the spirit of the place was supposed to include construction workers coming in for a beer and a shot?

                                                                    1. re: LeoLioness
                                                                      yarm RE: LeoLioness Nov 9, 2011 03:34 PM

                                                                      LL, you mean overflow from Lucky's?

                                                                      MCSJB, the difficulty in finding a seat there is still pretty great although Monday nights have been decent. I think that the rut the bartenders there get into serving the novice drinker has affected their new drink creation for more advanced drinkers. The "let's play a game" interaction with the bartender often has a lower success rate for me lately than having a cocktail menu so there are times I leave there without a recipe I want to write about.

                                                                      1. re: yarm
                                                                        yumyum RE: yarm Nov 9, 2011 03:40 PM

                                                                        Some bartenders are brilliant at "lets play a game". See: Scott at rendezvous. He made some killer cocktails last night based on a few preferences... minty limey light. Or brown and dessertish. He's a real gem!

                                                                        1. re: yarm
                                                                          MC Slim JB RE: yarm Nov 9, 2011 03:42 PM

                                                                          Actually, LL is referring to a ridiculous bit of PR that Barbara Lynch did in a Globe piece prior to Drink's opening, suggesting its appeal would be broad enough to attract local hardhats. Quote: "We're not looking to reinvent the wheel, just have a really good bar. Construction workers can come have a beer and a shot." I'm sure Gertsen could barely contain himself at that whopper.

                                                                          I had another excellent experience with the creative bartending at Drink the other night, but it does aggravate me a little to overhear some of the same interactions over and over again. "What do you mean, you don't carry Grey Goose?" If I'm sick of it, I can imagine Misty tired of it a long, long time ago.

                                                                          http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                          1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                            r
                                                                            rlee21 RE: MC Slim JB Nov 9, 2011 04:18 PM

                                                                            I certainly recognize fewer and fewer of the bartenders at Drink. As it is a bit out of the way for me, though, I don't go often enough to keep track precisely. During the times I have been, I find myself gravitating towards more trusted hands as I have also not had much luck at the "let's play a game" creativity.

                                                                            I think it is generally a good thing that people are moving on from Drink. Spreading the talent around, hopefully means a higher average overall.

                                                                            1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                              l
                                                                              LeoLioness RE: MC Slim JB Nov 9, 2011 06:29 PM

                                                                              Okay, but where is this venue where customers are all well-versed in craft cocktails and want to be challenged with every drink? I understand the concept of drink and frankly, think it's too much of a hassle to go and get an ordinary highball, but not admitting that craft cocktails are still a fairly esoteric concept is kind of silly.

                                                                              I've had some wonderful experiences at Drink and also a couple that left me totally cold in a "SO sorry I don't know the secret handshake here" kind of way. And no, I wasn't asking for a dirty martini. But frankly, even if I did...who cares? Feeling bad for bartenders who have to make a vodka tonic is a bit much, I think.

                                                                              1. re: LeoLioness
                                                                                yarm RE: LeoLioness Nov 9, 2011 10:07 PM

                                                                                I know Eastern Standard does not question the vodka tonic crowd. They don't view the drink as anything more than a quick drink to make so they can move on to the next customer especially during the Red Sox rush.

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

                                                                                1. re: yarm
                                                                                  r
                                                                                  rlee21 RE: yarm Nov 9, 2011 10:30 PM

                                                                                  I definitely think there are bars that are purely cocktail bars that cater to the crowd of generally more seasoned cocktail enthusiasts. Although, the only ones that come immediately to mind are PX and Columbia Room in DC, Aviary in Chicago and arguably PDT and others in NY. I'm sure there are more. While, I would like to think there are some such bars in Boston, Drink is still not quite there. I do love classics, but I feel like the format of Drink is to showcase the skill and creativity of the bartenders. Thus, it annoys me when every time I ask for something that is rye based, I always get a very standard "how about a Fort Point?" without fail (unless I am dealing with a bartender that knows me personally).

                                                                                  While I don't think there's anything wrong with a bar accommodating all tastes, I do think that there is the general impression among the bar going crowd that all bars should cater to all tastes. Certainly, the same cannot be said for restaurants, where one would never be able to request a hamburger at a place like O Ya. We understand that there are different restaurants for different tastes and different occasions, yet that sentiment has not yet extended to bars.

                                                                                  1. re: rlee21
                                                                                    yarm RE: rlee21 Nov 10, 2011 06:30 AM

                                                                                    RLee21 described my drink ordering dilemma quite well. I would argue that they were there when they had the staff to do it and the staff was encouraged to invent. Now, there has been a change in personnel and due to all of the hipsters there because they heard it was a hot place, they have no reason to push boundaries.

                                                                                    For me, it wasn't the Fort Point but the Lawhill (rye, dry vermouth, maraschino, absinthe, bitters) but after the 3rd or 4th time I stopped asking for "something with absinthe" (although I might have gotten it asking for "something with rye"). With a menu, my expectation level would approximate my later experience. With playing the game, it's a gamble. And if you punt and ask for a specific drink, you've defeated the original concept of the bar.

                                                                                2. re: LeoLioness
                                                                                  MC Slim JB RE: LeoLioness Nov 10, 2011 07:41 AM

                                                                                  The kind of venue where every drinker is interested in something novel and crafty does exist (New York has a few, for instance); the better question is, can Boston sustain such places over the long term? I think the jury is still out there.

                                                                                  My old analogy here is: ordering a dull, conventional cocktail at Drink is like going to Chinatown for a hamburger. You can do it, and some Chinese restaurants will serve you one, but why would you?

                                                                                  Part of being a smart drinker (and being a Chowhound) is understanding that every place has its strengths and weaknesses, and defying or ignoring that fact generally results in a sub-optimal experience.

                                                                                  Now, you might argue that no bar should ever make it difficult for the customer to get whatever they want -- let the vodka drinkers drink vodka -- but I dislike the notion that every place must be all things to all customers. There ought to be room for the idiosyncratic chef and the bar that plays to connoisseurs only.

                                                                                  Whether that's a great business plan is another question, but I would hate to live in a world where every customer is entitled to exactly everything they want, wherever and whenever they want it. We already have plenty of diners that think that way, and they are generally hellish to be around.

                                                                                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                  1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                                    yarm RE: MC Slim JB Nov 10, 2011 08:08 AM

                                                                                    The novel and crafty can be done but it seems to be more common where the restaurant carries the profit margin (No. 9 Park, Craigie on Main, Clio, Bergamot). Or smaller bars with enthusiastic bartenders who work on off nights (Sahil Mehta at Estragon, Ben Sandrof when he was doing the Sunday Salon at Trina's back room).

                                                                                    http://cocktailvirgin.blogspot.com/20...

                                                                                    -----
                                                                                    Craigie on Main
                                                                                    853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

                                                                                    1. re: MC Slim JB
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                                                                                      Gabatta RE: MC Slim JB Nov 10, 2011 08:46 AM

                                                                                      A smart drinker? ROFL

                                                                                      1. re: Gabatta
                                                                                        MC Slim JB RE: Gabatta Nov 10, 2011 09:19 AM

                                                                                        Sure, a smart drinker! I could order a martini at my local neighborhood tavern, a Sazerac at the Living Room, an obscure craft draft beer at the wine bar, and a shot of Jager at the bar at the Taj, but it wouldn't be picking my spots very intelligently.

                                                                                        http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

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                                                                                        Living Room
                                                                                        101 Atlantic Ave, Boston, MA 02110

                                                                                      2. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                                        l
                                                                                        LeoLioness RE: MC Slim JB Nov 10, 2011 09:35 AM

                                                                                        I do appreciate your points (and I have been to some of the craftier places in other cities--honestly, I didn't notice if people were drinking more "standard" drinks, not really something I'm going to look for). I was wondering more specifically (and rhetorically) that if Drink couldn't cultivate a craft cocktail-only crowd, then where in Boston is doing that?

                                                                                        I would guess that a fair amount of non-craft cocktail drinkers go to Drink for the buzz, or because that's where their friends want to go and they are uninterested in the concept. They may not be aware (and/or not care) that they are breaching some sort of implied etiquette or boring the bartender with their drink choice.

                                                                                        I think the onus has to be on the bar to set the tone for the kind of place it wants to be, and the kind of clientele it wants to attract. To that end, Drink could limit the number of people in at one time, take reservations and basically do whatever possible to make the environment conducive to the one-on-one communication that ultimately makes the concept succeed. I'm pretty sure a lot of highball orders are yelled in a moment of indecision/panic over a three-deep crowd on a Saturday night (And yes, some people can only go to certain places on a Saturday night). Of course, that would affect the bottom line so I can't see that happening just to make a subset of the clientele happy. Maybe I'm wrong, though?

                                                                                        I'm curious, what happens if someone orders a Grey Goose and tonic there? Are they given another vodka? Steered into something else with a "if you like that, try this" approach? If it's the latter, then good on Drink for being committed to their vision. If it's the former, no one can really complain--people will continue to think they can get whatever they want if they can, in fact, get whatever they want.

                                                                                        1. re: LeoLioness
                                                                                          Alcachofa RE: LeoLioness Nov 10, 2011 09:39 AM

                                                                                          They are told they don't carry GG, and recommend the vodka they do carry. When a friend of mine ordered one, they had Fair vodka. It was fair.

                                                                                          1. re: LeoLioness
                                                                                            yarm RE: LeoLioness Nov 10, 2011 10:16 AM

                                                                                            It's hard to argue with the amount of money the bar makes and the bartenders take home in tips. It's sort of like Eastern Standard not saying no to the Red Sox crowd and their beer and vodka-tonics and the $$.

                                                                                            Once the $$ starts coming in for doing less and less, the motivation to do more is wiped away. Drink doesn't have a problem filling seats even on what are traditionally considered off or industry nights.

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                                                                                            Eastern Standard
                                                                                            528 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215

                                                                                            1. re: LeoLioness
                                                                                              MC Slim JB RE: LeoLioness Nov 10, 2011 10:19 AM

                                                                                              I think part of the problem is that Drink wants to have it both ways, and frankly needs the volume to keep a space that size in the black. But like many such compromises, you end up serving both poles not as well as you might with a narrower focus. And it's a business, after all, and a Barbara Lynch one at that, not an art project. I find it serves me very well, but I have to pick my spots there very carefully.

                                                                                              http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                          3. re: ChinaCat
                                                            barleywino RE: ChinaCat Oct 2, 2011 12:31 AM

                                                            Another place to consider is the intimate bar at Pigalle. Ask bartender Michael Florence to make you the Georges Gamble and the Hullabaloo Soup cocktails.

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                                                            Pigalle
                                                            75 Charles Street South, Boston, MA 02116

                                                            1. re: ChinaCat
                                                              barleywino RE: ChinaCat Oct 2, 2011 12:38 AM

                                                              I agree on the mocktails, for example Tom used to make great mocktails at Craigie. And now that I think of it, i was also once served whiskey in a warm glass at RHT and it was offputting, altho not a dealbreaker for me.

                                                            2. g
                                                              Gabatta RE: ChinaCat Sep 30, 2011 11:45 AM

                                                              I don't know if it would be termed a "craft" cocktail place, however last week I has happily reminded that the original Franklin pours a kick ass drink.

                                                              1. w
                                                                Wannabfoode RE: ChinaCat Sep 30, 2011 01:28 PM

                                                                Clio, Citizens, Drink, The Hawthorne is supposed to be opening sometime soon, (jackson cannon's new craft locale) so definitely make that part of the ICOB/ES trip

                                                                1. threedogs RE: ChinaCat Sep 30, 2011 01:49 PM

                                                                  I don't have any suggestions, but wanted to say that I think this is a fantastic idea you have!! Awesome - I'm sure you'll have a great time (and please share where you went afterwards!)

                                                                  1. b
                                                                    bruceshaw RE: ChinaCat Oct 6, 2011 08:27 AM

                                                                    This looks like a lot of fun, can I come too? Hahahaha, in any event, would love to know where you end up. Tried to go to Drink recently and they were closed for a private party (always irritating when that happens) so went to the very small and cozy bar at Menton and the bartender was a genius, highly recommended and where this is a birthday celebration for two this intimate bar could be nice...I know you are concerned about he size of the bar but if you go early before dinner I don't think you will have a problem here as most people come to Menton for the food, not the bar scene (which is too bad because the bar scene is intimate and knowledgeable). We did a martini tasting, dirty vs. classic, shaken and stirred....nice as it required us to each have two!

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                                                                    Menton
                                                                    354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

                                                                    1. ScubaSteve RE: ChinaCat Oct 6, 2011 11:37 AM

                                                                      My usual route used to be Deep Ellum around 1pm, ESK around 3pm, a stop in CTown for food then Drink around 5pm then back home. I beat all the crowds and was on home turf for the serious drinking.

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                                                                      Deep Ellum Bar
                                                                      477 Cambridge St, Allston, MA 02134

                                                                      1. libertywharf RE: ChinaCat Oct 30, 2011 05:21 PM

                                                                        The best bartender in Boston IMHO is Eddie McGuire at bond. A new bar opened below the W hotel. Haven't been there but I hear it is pretty nice.

                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                        1. re: libertywharf
                                                                          barleywino RE: libertywharf Oct 31, 2011 10:34 AM

                                                                          the bar below the W has not opened yet, according to the W

                                                                          1. re: barleywino
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                                                                            9lives RE: barleywino Nov 5, 2011 11:04 AM

                                                                            Ms 9 and I had a drink at the lobby bat at W last week. Just had a beer. Service was inattentive at an often time and both waitresses spent more time talking with 1 gent who I assumed to be a regular. Reached the point where I had my watch set to the "we leave in 5 mins" if not served. 1 came at about 3 1/2 min..and this was with 1 other customer. Pleasant enough when she got there.

                                                                            I don't often order fancy cocktail (unless I'm with hounds that do) but the service at the new Ritz bars is always excellent.

                                                                            1. re: 9lives
                                                                              barleywino RE: 9lives Nov 5, 2011 05:10 PM

                                                                              it's been a while since i've been to the new Ritz bar, but now that you mention it, I would agree

                                                                              1. re: barleywino
                                                                                MC Slim JB RE: barleywino Nov 9, 2011 12:22 PM

                                                                                The new Ritz has two bars: a larger one inside Artisan Bistro (formerly Jer-Ne) and the Avery Bar, a small bar and lounge with a lovely fireplace, at the far end of the main lobby.

                                                                                Descent in the W is now open, but only Wed-Sun nights.

                                                                                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

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                                                                                Jer-Ne Restaurant and Bar
                                                                                10 Avery Street, Boston, MA 02111

                                                                                1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                                  barleywino RE: MC Slim JB Nov 9, 2011 02:21 PM

                                                                                  Unfortunately Descent is not quite open and they don't have a date for it. Did you go to a soft opening?

                                                                                  1. re: barleywino
                                                                                    MC Slim JB RE: barleywino Nov 10, 2011 10:50 AM

                                                                                    I haven't been and am not sure how I got the idea that Descent had opened. I have since confirmed that it has not, and they don't have a date set beyond "mid-Novemberish".

                                                                                    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                        2. yarm RE: ChinaCat Dec 5, 2011 11:44 AM

                                                                          The bar manager of Backbar (Sam Treadway) stated that Backbar should be open in a week.

                                                                          I have heard rumors that Brick & Mortar is around that same time frame. Although I have a feeling that they will wait until after bar manager Misty Kalkofen gets back from administering the 5 day BAR exam this week.

                                                                          http://cocktailvirgin.blogspot.com/

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