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June 29, 2009 / jnolen

Drinking Boston

I was in Boston last week for Enterprise 2.0, and Jenn and I made good use of the evenings by working our way through some of Boston’s finer drinking establishments. Just as last year, I used Lauren Clark’s inimitable Drink Boston as our travel guide, and her Best Bars list as our itinerary. This year, we explored:

No. 9 Park, Boston Common

No. 9 Park exceeded every possible expectation. The staff are knowledgeable, friendly, helpful and snappily dressed. My favorite cocktail at this place was made with gin, lime and mint. It sounds simple, but it was sublime. In all seriousness, I think I’ve never had a cocktail I’ve enjoyed more. I wish I could remember the name of it. I’ve googled for it, but I’ve only turned up the Palmyra, which sounds similar but is made with vodka. And unfortunately, though the restaurant publishes all their other menus, the cocktail menu is missing from the website. In any case, if we’re back in Boston next year, No. 9 Park is the first bar on our list.

Craigie on Main, Central Square


Craigie on Main is a lovely restaurant, but I found the cocktail list a little uninspiring. All new creations (I think) and no classics. I tried a St.-Pierre, which was good and well-made. Though, as the waiter warned me, I found the rhum agricole a little harsh. The highlight of our night at Craigie, however, was sitting at the bar and watching the kitchen staff work. It gave me a whole new appreciation of just how stressful a high-end kitchen is, especially under a demanding chef.

Drink, Fort Point

The forthrightly named Drink is a new bar this year, opened by the owners of No. 9 Park (and other establishments). I’m happy to say that it holds to the same high standards as its sibling. Although the website won’t tell you much about the place, it’s terrific. It’s in an otherwise desolate neighborhood, and well hidden. In fact, we went into the wrong bar (the only other one on the street) because we’d walked right by the signless Drink.

Luckily, one bad vodka tonic later, we were back on the out on the street, and I finally noticed the low bulbs burning in the windows of a below ground room. Through the door, down the stairs, and we found ourselves in a long, narrow room with a twisting bar. The bartenders are the real stars at this place. They’re encyclopedic. Best of all, there’s no cocktail list, so the bartenders will take the time to discuss a selection with you. Tell them what you like, and they’ll suggest something twice as good.

Eastern Standard, Kenmore Square

Our last adventure found us at Eastern Standard. I’d been to this bar last summer, and was mildly disappointed to find the cocktail menu unchanged. Nonetheless, they’ve got a terrific selection and a smart variation of styles: classic, modern, champagne, long, etc. We stuck mostly with our favorite classics at Eastern Standard, but each one was delicious and made with care.

If you find yourself in Boston, I would highly recommend each of these bars. With quality and variety like this, the Boston cocktail scene can vie for the very best in the country. And I know we’re looking forward to further exploring the Best Bars in Boston list next year.

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