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Mar 6, 2012 05:35 PM

best bartenders for regulars?

are you a regular at a bar? i'm looking for spots that are good for frequent repeat visits, but not for snazzy food or well-mixed cocktails (though there could be that). i'm thinking of that kind of vibe where you have a bartender that talks to you and the other folks at the bar so that by the time you finish your first round you want to stay and have another and talk to your neighbor. got any faves hounders?

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  1. Cheers! Kidding. I think Silvertone fits that description. I don't like their cocktails, but that's not what you're looking for, and I think it's got that friendly-bartender, neighborhoody vibe when it's not overly crowded. I've only been downstairs at the Cantab, but I'd imagine it has that vibe upstairs, along with some of the Irish pubs like The Druid, The Burren, Plough and Stars, etc. If you prefer your banter with a slur, try Sligo!

    1 Reply
    1. re: pollystyrene

      thanks polly! i'm not NOT interested in upscale, i just like to go to places where there's a bit of camaraderie :)

      1. Regular status depends on building long-term relationships with staff, so what you want is a good bar with a solid front-of-house core, not a lot of turnover. Identify that (with "good bar" being a very personal judgement), and the rest is easy.

        Frequent the bar because you like it. Keep going back, even on nights when the weather is shitty or everyone's on vacation or home watching the Oscars. Be unfailingly polite, a well-behaved customer who isn't demanding and brings similarly well-behaved friends with him. Tip well, don't push last call, and go home before you wear out your welcome, i.e., know your limits. There are many other rules of good bar etiquette; my favorite summary is here:

        It's not that some bars are somehow magically better to regulars than others. It's just that some bars have good, solid staffs, and loyal, well-behaved customers at such places inevitably get to be well-treated.

        6 Replies
        1. re: MC Slim JB

          love it! any suggestions for where to get started?

          1. re: dianalim

            Sure! Give me some examples of places you consider to be good bars.


          2. re: MC Slim JB

            what a funny blog - and that artwork!!!

            1. re: Bellachefa

              The magazine regularly had cool stuff, but the 86 Rules of Boozing piece is still my favorite.


            2. re: MC Slim JB

              and the internet has ruined some of my favorite bars.

              1. re: MC Slim JB

                Slim's advice is totally spot on. I would find it impossible to commend this bartender or that on a relationship basis because it is a deeply personal thing. Besides, I don't go to a bar for a relationship with a bartender (though manners and friendly respect help) but I go there for a well-made drink. Generally speaking, if you hear the drinks are really good at a particular bar, you should enjoy the ambiance as well.

              2. Are you focusing on a particular neighborhood (near home or work)?

                6 Replies
                1. re: LeoLioness

                  good question. i live in cambridge (central) but get around the city for work so would also enjoy options in south end, north end, downtown/financial.

                  1. re: dianalim

                    If you're in Central hie thee over to Rendezvous when Scott is behind the bar. He isn't chatty cathy but he endeavors to make your drink to your liking and offer a few twists of his own, especially employing the fresh herbs they favor. He is a low-key barkeep with a font of geeky cocktail knowledge but that's not to say he couldn't become your best friend. I'd start there.

                    1. re: yumyum

                      I agree about Scott at Rendezvous. He has also introduced me (and others) to their neighbors. He definitely displays a great sense of old school (but low key) bartender charm.


                    2. re: dianalim

                      Trina at Trina's Starlite Lounge is a true gem of a bartender. Just an all-around nice, engaging person who is very good at her job.

                      1. re: dianalim

                        I know you are not looking for upscale but I have to give a shout out to the bartenders at Prezza (North end) who, despite usually being extremely busy, will find time to chat if you engage them and often help you meet other folks at the bar who are regulars. I only go there about once every 2 -3 months and despite that, I am remembered and well treated. They also mix cocktails quite competently ( and in sizeable amounts as well).

                        1. re: Northender

                          I haven't been to Prezza in a long time, but it is certainly a place that comes to mind for excellent solo dining at the bar. Very welcoming.

                          Down in Randolph, Caffe Bella has a great bar with a great communal following with Angel the bartender and others.

                    3. Paul Manzelli at Bergamot (more of a restaurant with a bar) has an incredible gift for making guest, especially regulars, feel entertained and at home. Great once the diners have left so he has more time to pay attention to the bar patrons. He's great for getting people to talk at the bar. Maybe more upscale than you were seeking, but he fits your description better than any other I've encountered.


                      5 Replies
                      1. re: yarm

                        agreed-- Paul is usually off on Tuesdays but otherwise you should be able to catch him there. Also watch this board for info on where Todd Maul (currently at Clio, which may be too chi chi for your tastes) ends up next, allegedly in Cambridge/Somerville somewhere. Nicole Lebedevitch at Hawthorne and John Mayer at Local 149 (Southie) might be others to check out.

                        1. re: barleywino

                          Paul and Kai are both off on Sundays. I dig Kai as well so Paul's absence isn't as painful; some nights they're both on.

                          I started to mentioned Todd in my post but deleted it. He is very good at chatting with regulars as opposed to hotel guests and diners who comprise most of his business it seems. Never has seemed to be the most social of bars though (in talking with your neighbors) though.

                          I agree about John Mayer and he's probably allowed to have more fun at Local 149 than at Craigie.

                          1. re: yarm

                            i was in Bergamot yesterday and they said Paul's days off nowadays were Tuesdays (he used to do trivia contests at another bar then). I think you're right though that he used to be off some Sundays. I'm hoping Todd will get to bust loose in his new place soon...

                        2. re: yarm

                          I agree with this as well. I always sit at the bar at Bergamot when I go there. Paul and Kai are wonderful; they know their stuff and they go out of their way to make patrons feel welcome.

                          1. re: yarm

                            Another supporter of Paul and the Bergamot bar - always a pleasure, even for a mere semi-regular - and terrific drinks as well!