Where to Grab a Drink in Boston Right Now
At the best bars in Boston, sip on inventive cocktail menus paired with exciting bites and fun vibes.
With the sunset growing ever-later, Bostonians can rest easy knowing that rooftop cocktail season (sans space heaters) is just around the corner. And as always, Boston’s top watering holes will be waiting with open arms as well.
Whether you’re craving a boozy DIPA, a crisp glass of rosé, or a bespoke cocktail, these top-tier bars are ready to provide you with some of the finest drinking and dining experiences that the Bay State has to offer. From recent debuts to classics, here are the 20 best bars in Boston right now.
A Central Square favorite since 2011, Mad Monkfish is one of the hippest spots north of the Charles, offering a wealth of polished Asian dishes to the tune of live jazz. Visitors can swing by from Friday to Sunday to catch a star-studded show, while flavorful fare is available seven days a week, offering a complex blend of dishes that draw influence from Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, and a wealth of other East and Southeast Asian nations. Sushi is a big hit here—the pineapple-infused Sleeping Beauty Roll and Spicy Red Dragon Roll are two certified crowd pleasers—but with dishes like the Korean Grilled Beef Bulgogi Bun, Tofu Katsu Kare, and Crab Meat Fried Rice, it’s tough to go wrong with anything on the menu.
How to book: Tock
Next Door Speakeasy & Raw Bar
Most visitors know Eastie as the home of Logan Airport and little else, but this underrated neighborhood doubles as one of Boston’s top spots for refined cocktails. Case in point: Next Door Speakeasy & Raw Bar, a polished den that made its debut just last year. The dragon fruit-forward Love Language and floral Purple Rain are just a few of the masterfully-crafted mixed drinks appearing on the menu, with seafood selections like East Coast Oysters and Mini Ahi Tuna Tacos up for grabs as well. Not a fan of cocktails? No worries—Next Door is equipped with a mighty fleet of top-tier aged spirits spanning from 18-year WhistlePig rye whiskey to 21-year Redbreast Scotch.
How to book: Seven Rooms
Dorchester Brewing Company
Boston’s largest neighborhood is home to top-tier Vietnamese cuisine, a whole host of divey Irish pubs, and some stellar craft beer courtesy of Dorchester Brewing Company. Founded in 2016, this multi-story operation doubles as one of the city’s hottest hangout spots, equipped with a game room and year-round rooftop greenhouse. Brews around here range from the hearty Baker’s Dozen wheat lager or Beantown coffee stout to the tried-and-true Forever OFD DIPA—and to sweeten the deal, M&M BBQ is located right inside the brewery, slinging up Pulled Pork Sammies, Dumpster Fries, and a whole mess of classic barbecue sides to pair with your favorite beer.
How to book: Walk in
Sox season will be here before you know it, and if you’re on the hunt for the perfect pre-game drinks destination, it’s tough to find a better spot than Audubon. This venue sports ales from some of the Bay State’s most beloved breweries—Exhibit ‘A’, Night Shift, and Jack’s Abby, to name a few—while cocktails range from the fiery Anchorita to the Kick Flip, a seamless blend of montenegro, cream sherry, egg, and nutmeg. The Potstickers, Grilled Wings, and Veggie Burger are all certified home runs for hungry patrons, but if you’re craving crispy chorizo and San Diego-inspired seafood, be sure to swing by for Audubon’s weekly Taco Tuesday.
How to book: Walk in
Brassica Kitchen & Cafe
Brassica may be particularly pint-sized, but what this Forest Hills venue lacks in size, it certainly makes up for in stiff drinks and vibrant small plates. A certifiable JP chameleon, the spot slings handmade pastries and sandwiches during daylight hours as Brassica Cafe, then emerges during the evening as Brassica Kitchen, a polished bistro that’s mastered the art of fermentation-forward dining. While the Fried Sweet Rice and B.K. Fried Chicken are both particularly pleasing to the palate, be sure to check out the top-tier cocktail list, a sizable selection of beverages that spans from housemade amaro to the mezcal and elderflower-loaded Gray Gardens.
Banyan Bar & Refuge
In need of a stiff drink that will transport you across the globe with a single sip? Make that dream a reality with Banyan Bar, a South End staple for colorful cocktails and flavorful fusion cuisine. Although Asian-inspired favorites like Crab Rangoon Dip, Cauliflower Okonomiyaki, and Lobster Roll Bao all grace the menu, the star attraction here is the cocktail list, offering heavy hitters like the fiery Thai chili vodka-forward Supreme Leader and the Wildfire, a classic blend of pineapple tequila, mezcal, ango, and salty simple syrup.
Perched high above Mass Ave, Blue Owl has been gracing Cambridge’s Central Square with fine food and drink paired with gorgeous rooftop views since the tail end of 2021. There’s no shortage of classic cocktails to enjoy around here, but for the adventurous soul, Blue Owl is a top spot for expanding your spiritual horizons. Looking to sample one of Scandinavia’s favorite distillates? Grab a Dill or No Dill, a citrus-laden cocktail made with aquavit. Curious about Chicago’s most infamous liquor? The Malört-loaded Phantasm has your name on it. Add in some tasty street food-inspired snacks like Oaxacan Molotes and Korean Fried Chicken Wings and you’ve got a true symphony of flavors.
How to book: Walk in
Two words: Espresso Martini. There’s no shortage of spots across the city to get your caffeine and booze fix, but when it comes to creating the perfect blend of vodka, Kahlúa, and coffee, nobody does it quite like Bricco. This beloved North End venue is best known for its signature coffee cocktail, but if caffeine gives you a major case of the jitters, there’s no need to worry—a VuVu Cosmo, Pineapple Doli, or Maker’s Manhattan are all worthy substitutes. For the totally cocktail-averse, Bricco is also home to a spectacular array of wines, boasting more than 100 different selections sourced from all across Italy and the United States.
Bully Boy Distillers
Officially launched in 2011, Bully Boy made history as the city’s first craft distillery, providing thirsty Bay Staters with a much-needed spot for sampling locally produced spirit. While guests are welcome to book a tour for a firsthand glimpse into the distillation process, the on-property Cocktail Garden is open for business from Thursday to Sunday for serious cocktail aficionados. At this vibrant bar, enjoy a thorough deep dive into how each Bully Boy spirit performs in a mixed drink, with a wealth of New England ingredients and homemade tinctures going into each beverage.
How to book: Walk in
When it comes to hidden gems, Casa Romero is the Boston equivalent of the Hope Diamond. Tucked in a tiny alleyway just off of Commonwealth Ave, this charming venue has been one of Back Bay’s top purveyors of Mexican cuisine for the past half-century. While there’s no shortage of wines and frozen cocktails around here, Casa Romera has mastered the art of the margarita with eight distinct varieties gracing the menu. Keep it classic with an orange-heavy El Amigo, or spring for La Fantasma, a fiery concoction that pairs perfectly with an order of Camarones a la Diabla.
Citrus & Salt
Looking for a little Baja flair to take your mind off of the gloomy weather? Don’t book that flight to Cabo just yet—all the agave-infused beverages you could possibly ask for are waiting right on the edge of Back Bay at Citrus & Salt. This bright and cheery venue excels at the art of cocktail-crafting, offering a wealth of options ranging from the ultra-smooth and citrusy Beautiful Liar to the lychee-forward Tails From Below, a drink that accents its rich agave flavors with prickly pear and butterfly pea tea. Of course, no visit is complete without sipping on this spot’s signature cocktail—the Citrus & Salt Margarita, a beloved classic that comes in seven different flavors.
Beloved Fort Point venue Drink is easily one of Boston’s most critically-acclaimed drinking destinations. In stark contrast to your typical cocktail bar, this buzzing basement-level institution has no menu—guests are welcome to name any drink that their heart desires, whether it be a simple Old Fashioned or a Ramos Gin Fizz. While this storied spot is beloved by serious cocktail aficionados, it’s also the perfect place for new drinkers to cut their teeth—just name a few of your favorite flavors and boom, your new go-to boozy beverage has arrived courtesy of Drink’s top-tier staff.
How to book: Walk in
Leave it to this wonderful little Downtown Crossing wine bar to bring something special to an otherwise largely ignored Boston neighborhood. Who isn’t up for tinned fish, charcuterie, and a sturdy glass of red after a long day’s work? The concept was developed by Sportello alum Haley Fortier, who has unfathomable expertise in the world of wine. It’s casual, it’s interesting, and with nearly 50 mostly old-world selections to choose from, including full and half-bottle offerings, it all adds up to a fantastic place to unwind.
In a city renowned for its steadfast devotion to Irish pubs, The Haven sets its sights just a hair east of the Emerald Isle, specializing in hearty Scottish food and drink. The country’s historically clammy weather has given rise to cozy traditional plates ranging from cullen skink—a creamy, leek-loaded soup—to Shepherd’s Pie, each one a perfect antidote to a chilly Boston night. For best results, be sure to pair your main with a stiff pour of whiskey from the lengthy Scotch list, then end the night with a Deep-Fried Mars Bar, an ingenious creation that’s been a beloved Scotland treat for decades on end.
Mixology meets mythology at Hecate, a relatively new addition to Back Bay’s bustling cocktail scene courtesy of the team behind Krasi. While Krasi has a distinct Greek focus, Hecate takes a European approach, equipped with an ultra-somber interior and a small-yet-mighty cocktail list that boasts some highly underrated ingredients accented by splendid illustrations. These spellbinding concoctions range from the Tulpa, a double-punch of Batavia arrack and baijiu, to the mezcal-laden Sanguine Alchemy, a dream come true for serious agave aficionados.
How to book: Walk in
This much-adored Downtown barroom is known for its stellar selection of brews, but don’t skip out on the cocktail list either, with tempting options ranging from Milano Sours (Fernet, Rittenhouse rye, orgeat, and lemon) to the refreshing B&T (vodka, raspberry, lemon, and elderflower foam). The bar also lays claim to one of the best burgers in town—perfect for soaking up all that liquid debauchery. Bourbon lovers take note: jm Curley is also home to one of the tastiest whiskey smashes around.
Intimacy is the name of the game at OFFSUIT, a tiny haunt tucked away in Boston’s Leather District. The night begins with a prowl down Utica Street, where an unremarkable door serves as a portal into a world of refined drinking and dining. There are just 20 seats packed into this pint-sized watering hole, but OFFSUIT’s cocktail selection is by no means minuscule, featuring a wealth of perfectly crafted selections that include time-honored classics like Oaxaca Old Fashioneds and Espresso Martinis alongside new creations like the Downpour, a blend of coconut, cucumber, matcha, sesame, and white rum.
The Plough and Stars
The Boston area is no stranger to cozy Irish pubs, but for those who find themselves north of the Charles, The Plough and Stars has been a top contender for more than half a century. Decadent pub fare like Buttermilk Fried Chicken BLTs, New Orleans Gumbo, and Cuban Sandwiches, a lengthy beer list, and live music can all be found seven nights a week, while weekend brunch offers a diverse array of dishes ranging from a full Irish Breakfast to Huevos Rancheros.
How to book: Walk in
It’s rare to find a bar that offers superbly crafted cocktails, tantalizing cuisine, and a gorgeous interior, but Shōjō manages to check off all the boxes. Equipped with a laundry list of decadent dishes ranging from a smoked barbecue sauce-drenched Shōjō Pig Bao to the massive Shojonator burger, the bar has perfected the delicate balance of hearty American fare mingled with East Asian culinary flair. While the venue boasts an impressive collection of whiskey sourced from Japan, Taiwan, and the U.S., Shōjō’s cocktail game is just as impressive, offering Vietnamese coffee martinis and boozy baijiu mules.
If Trader Vic’s met a New Orleans speakeasy, you’d end up with Shore Leave, a cheeky delight of a subterranean drinking den from the team behind nearby Bar Mezzana. Indoor dining offers a welcome escape from the lingering brisk weather, providing an opportunity to make the deep descent into the basement where Shore Leave’s cozy dining space awaits. The traditional rum-forward jams are still on point from Mai Tais to a tropical take on the classic martini, and the culinary options pack just as strong of a punch, made up of decadent and dressed-up favorites like Cheeseburgers, Okonomiyaki Tater Tots, and Karaage Chicken Sandwiches.