An editor's guide to drinking around town


An editor's guide to drinking around town
An editor's guide to drinking around town


Despite what was portrayed in that hilarious episode of Cheers where Woody gets hooked on the Home Shopping Network, the Hub's bar scene is actually quite sophisticated these days. From Irish pubs and untz-untz clubs, to cocktail dens and Bavarian-style brew halls, local editor Dave Baldwin is here to help you navigate the murky waters-to-wine.

Best Local Hang: The Sevens on Charles Street. Just ask Thrillist Executive Editor Kevin Alexander, who met his future wife there despite being terribly average at darts. And satisfying women.

Best For Work: The best spot for work drinks (or after-work drinks, if you're being responsible) is the deck at the Barking Crab. Grab a pint & a basket of fried clams, and enjoy the sweet view of the city from across the Fort Point Channel.

Best Beer Bar: Allston's Sunset Grill & Tap has 112 taps, 380 beers, and approximately zero need for me to go on. Alt spots with also-overwhelming arrays of suds include Kendall's Meadhall, Bukowski's (Back Bay & Inman), and Fenway's Yard House.

Best Club: Any place in The Alley, of course. Just kidding. If you're Downtown, grab a plush gold couch and an up-close view of Julius Caesar at Roman-esque Royale (see the video here). If you're in Central, hop in line (and there will be a line) at Middlesex, a joint once described by a bouncer as "a little slice of New York, right here in Cambridge"... for whatever that's worth.

Best Cocktail Bar: Three clues: 1) It maintains a very low profile off Central Square. 2) It's the proud owner of the "longest standing" liquor license in Cambridge, dating back to Great Depression. 3) Their A-to-Z cocktail list pretty much comes in book form, but you have to ask for it, or else they'll try to pass off the abridged version on you. Give up? Green Street Grill.

Best Dive Bar That's Not An Irish Pub: Delux Cafe in the South End. Cash only. Walls decorated with album covers. Tallboys of Schlitz.

Best Wine Bar: Belly, because choosing wine is tricky and best left to the pros, who in this case are Nick and Liz. They also own the adjoining Blue Room and popular enoteca Central Bottle, and, more importantly, they'll rock a family-style whole-beast feast for a crowd if you give 'em a heads up.

Best Brewery: With the addition of their new 300-seat, 20-tap, Bavarian-style beer hall in the Seaport, the award goes to... damn this envelope... Harpoon Brewery! A close runner-up if you're doing science in Kendall is the Cambridge Brewing Company.

Best Local Beer: With the recent onslaught of local breweries, microbreweries, nano-breweries, femto-breweries, breweries that fit on the tip of a pencil, etc., there are a ton of choices, but you can't go wrong with Everett's Night Shift Brewing's Taza Stout made w/ local chocolate.

Best Drink: Guest selection by the aforementioned Wellesley native/Trinity soccer team alum Kevin Alexander: "Eastern Standard's Au Provence, but add some chili pepper to basically turn it into a drink called a Gunpowder. Though if I'm looking to get tanked, Don's Zombie Circa 1934 is the move. It's made with five rums. Also, what was that thing earlier about me not satisfying women?!?"

Best Outdoor Spot: Audobon Circle has kind of an awesome bamboo lined patio on which to crush beef shin quesadillas and Kobe beef lobster dogs. Oh, right, and also drinks.

Best for Partying: Wonder Bar. Two floors. Live tunes. Leather couches. It's in Allston, so there are plenty of opportunities to barf on a co-ed.

Best Jukebox: Charlie's Kitchen. It's upstairs, though incidentally, they also rock a solid patio upon which to drink during the day.

Best Place to Day Drink: What place isn't good for drinking during the day? Still, I'd probably grab a stool at People's Republik, hit the beer garden at Atwoods, or a take a table on Legal Harborside's third-floor roof deck. The view overlooking the harbor is pretty tight.

Hottest Girls: Liberty Hotel Bar. If you park yourself in the lobby of this prison-turned-luxury-hotel on a Saturday night and do not count more hot ladies and/or cougars than Joe Epstein has friends on Google+, we will gladly give you your money back.

Easiest Place to Get Laid: The basement at Clerys on a Saturday night. If you can deal with the crowd of 20-somethings from NESCAC schools, it is inarguably your best chance at your worst idea.

Published on

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
1. The Sevens Ale House 77 Charles St, Boston, MA 02114 (Beacon Hill)

Because you can only stare through the window at Crush for so long before they politely ask you to leave, sidle up to the bar at the "friendliest neighborhood pub" on Charles Street (since 1933!) and throw some darts/Candlebox on the juke while enjoying beer-steamed knockwurst topped w/ kraut, a breaded chicken & bacon sammie, or one of over 60 suds including their namesake Harpoon Munich Dark, known in-house as The Sevens Ale.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
2. The Barking Crab 88 Sleeper St, Boston, MA 02210 (Fort Point Channel)

Grub includes favorites like Jonah crab claws, spicy beer-battered shrimp (tossed in soy molasses sauce), and steamed lobsters.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
3. Sunset Grill & Tap 130 Brighton Ave, Allston, MA 02134 (Allston Brighton)

Although this Allston spot is known primarily for its HUGE beer selection (nearly 400) -- which makes sense, because this joint is right near BU and is in the frat/party central area of the campus -- it's also got a massive food menu to boast about. It features everything you could possibly think of, including nachos, BBQ ribs, fish tacos, 1/2 lb. burgers, fajitas, and a bunch more. If you aren't coming here hungry, there must be something wrong.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
4. Meadhall 4 Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA 02142 (Kendall Square)

This loungy, semi-industrial beer castle plates upscale lunch-thru-late night vittles (from an egg-topped steak tartare w/ anchovy vinaigrette to a signature VT turkey, bacon & avocado club), and pours over 100 draughts (including Peak Hop Noir, Wee Heavy Scottish Ale, McChouffe Brown, Hoptical Illusion, and Storm King Stout) in a 32-table (plus upstairs lounge) space.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
5. Bukowski Tavern 50 Dalton St, Boston, MA 02115 (Back Bay)

Ditch Newbury and the bastions of distraught twenty-something foreigners asking you what happened to Armani Cafe, and hit up this bastion of barley to take down a peanut butter burger while making a sizeable dent in your Dead Author's Card, a running tally of all the beers you have to drink within six months to earn a spot in their exclusive mug club.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
6. Yard House Fenway 126 Brookline Ave, Boston, MA 02215 (Fenway Kenmore)

This Cali-based brew house brings 142 taps and casual grub to a space rocking a massive island bar and rows of booths set beneath a long wall of colorful, Dali-esque mod art. Get fatter on half racks of smoked pork spare ribs w/ spicy bbq sauce & creamed corn, or Korean beef short rib tacos w/ spicy green papaya salad and lemon Sriracha aioli, then get sauced-er with choice drafts served four ways: shorty, goblet, pint, and half yard.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
7. Royale Boston 279 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02116 (Theatre Dist)

RB's a sleek Roman-esque nightclub/event venue (with over 100 live concerts a year), regally outfitted with plush gold leather couches and lion statues, balcony lounges, and a huge dance floor/stage.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
8. Green Street Grill 280 Green St, Cambridge, MA 02139 (Central Square)

This Prohibition-style bar packs a whollop with their 100-drink libation menu.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
9. Delux Cafe 100 Chandler St, Boston, MA 02116 (South End)

Deftly flee a second pass through Mohr & McPherson rug gallery and escape to the South End's bestest cash-only dive bar whose funky pine walls are plastered with record albums, Elvis posters, and myriad kitsch, and whose kitchen/bar's slinging grilled cheese, quesadillas, and tallboys of Schlitz.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
10. BELLY Wine Bar One Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA 02139 (Kendall Square)

BELLY's an Italian-inspired, 45-seat vino sanctuary meets charcuterie HQ set in a 19th-century mill that contrasts wood beams, plank ceilings, and salvaged chestnut/ steel girder tables with a sleek, nine-seat marble bar, Italian porcelain-tile floor, and bistro-style mirrored menus.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
11. Wine Bar at Central Bottle 196 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139 (Central Square)

Stop by this Cambridge wine/provision shop as it transforms itself into a full-blown enoteca and wine bar selling vino by the glass from select importers in addition to cheeses, tortas, and a seasonal rotation of small snacks called cicchetti.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
12. Harpoon Beer Hall 306 Northern Ave, Boston, MA 02210 (South Boston)

This German-style beer hall from the Harpoon Brewing Company holds 300 brewthusiasts and offers a view of the skyline (when you're not looking into the bottom of your glass wondering where all your delicious beer disappeared to).

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
13. Cambridge Brewing Company 1 Kendall Square, Building 100, Cambridge, MA 02139 (Kendall Square)

Check out the oldest brewery-restaurant in the Boston area for an epic selection of brewskis and and even a personal pairing to your dish.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
14. Night Shift Brewing 3 Charlton St. Unit 9, Everett, MA 02149 (Everett)

Night Shift Brewing only launched in 2012, but you can certainly notice it was testing and perfecting its brew skills and recipes long before that. If you swing by its modest tap room, try its β€œArt Series,” which is an array of experimental, test-batch Frankenbeers that vary from week to week and sometimes last only a keg at a time.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
15. Eastern Standard 528 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215 (Fenway Kenmore)

A Commonwealth Avenue eatery with the appearance of a boogie French bistro, the menu of a five-star Italian restaurant, and the attitude of a local pub, Eastern Standard is an unpretentious offering of the finer things in life. An upscale menu touts a winding wine list, a raw bar, fresh seared fishes, steaks, and house-made pasta dishes (and, surprisingly, a pretty dang delicious burger) while the matching interior flaunts it polished mahogany and red velvet motif.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
16. Wonder Bar 186 Harvard Ave, Allston, MA 02134 (Allston Brighton)

We can only imagine how many cases of Red Bull Wonder Bar goes through during a week -- just for the staff. This place is open seven days a week and just about every day offers high-energy, music-pounding excitement. They feature a variety of DJs and live music from night to night and should you come hungry, they have a bigger menu than you'd expect from a dance spot.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
17. Atwood's Tavern 877 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02141 (East Cambridge)

This fave East C'bridge watering hole pours specialty draughts like Peak Espresso Amber Ale and Smuttynose Homunculus on a rustic cedar, heavily foliaged patio decked out w/ five picnic tables and a giant fountain spouting from an old whiskey barrel.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
18. Legal Sea Foods Harborside 270 Northern Ave, Boston, MA 02210 (South Boston)

The mother of all Legal Sea Foods, Legal Harborside is the upscale seafood chain's flagship restaurant on the Boston Waterfront. The 20,000sqft space takes over three floors, each with a different concept. The first floor is a nod to the restaurant's heritage as a casual all-day seafood market, complete with picnic tables and an oyster bar (up to 14 varieties of oysters are offered daily). On the second floor, a more formal dining room serves a sophisticated menu (you won't find any lobster rolls up here). Finally, overlooking the harbor on the third floor is a massive roof deck with wines by the glass, sushi, and small bites.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
19. Clerys 113 Dartmouth St, Boston, MA 02116 (Back Bay)

Clerys is a popular Irish watering hole found in Boston's Back Bay with cheap drinks, a downstairs dance party, and great pub fare like wings, nachos, and crab cake sliders. For an interesting take on a classic, check out the Bloody Jerk -- a heavily spiced twist on the Mary, garnished with a Slim Jim.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
20. Audubon Circle Restaurant & Bar 838 Beacon St, Boston, MA 02215 (Back Bay)

Craft cocktails and gourmet-ish American eats (duck leg salad, porcini-rubbed rib-eye) are best enjoyed on the serene bamboo-bedecked patio at this post-work hotspot.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
21. Charlie's Kitchen 10 Eliot St, Cambridge, MA 02138 (West Cambridge)

Charlie's Kitchen is the place to go for American eats, an awesome outdoor space, and killer waffle fries.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
22. The Liberty Hotel 215 Charles St, Boston, MA 02114 (West End)

Built in 1851 (and run until 1990) as the Charles Street Jail, this massive granite- and brick-structure situated off the Charles River at the foot of Beacon Hill now boasts 298 guest rooms, an "I'm totally staying in a prison" historical vibe, and five different spots where you can dine and imbibe.