The best places to drink in Boston—reviewed anonymously by experts

Contemporary cocktail bars

Steel & Rye

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

A huge space just across the river from Dorchester, Milton-based Steel & Rye has kept the industrial feel of the building’s past as a former ambulance garage. At the same time, the space has been softened with a long bar, open kitchen and multi-level dining room. The cocktails are varied and well-crafted—try the manhattan variation made with rye and Cardamaro and served down.

  1. 95 Eliot Street, (at Central Avenue)
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  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Situated in close proximity to where Boston’s public hangings occurred, the Gallows embraces its namesake with its macabre décor. Beneath its perpetual Halloween costume, however, the bar has an inventive cocktail list and unassuming vibe.

  1. 1395 Washington Street, (at Union Park Street)
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Alden & Harlow

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

Taking over the subterranean digs of former Harvard Square institution Casablanca, the expansive Alden & Harlow has plenty of space for eating and drinking between brick walls lined with reclaimed wood and vintage cookbooks. The cocktails echo the modern American fare, with ingredients like parsnip puree, honeyed kumquat and fennel infused lillet.  

  1. 40 Brattle Street, (at Church Street)
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Boston's best wine bars

Tory Row

Patrons on stylish metal stools appear ready to topple out into the street on warm, busy nights. Is it the consistently packed house or the prime location that gives Tory Row its air of self-importance? No matter—the people watching is superb, the nibbles are filling and reasonably priced, and the beer and wine selection features a smattering of locally produced favorites.

  1. 3 Brattle Street, (at John F. Kennedy Street)
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Shay's Lounge

Owned and operated by English expats, Shay's is one of the nicer bars in the area. Sunk a few feet below the sidewalk and sporting a handy outdoor patio, the bar attracts a lively mix of local academics, artists and die-hard regulars. Though many quaff from the bar's extensive beer menu, this is primarily a wine bar—and there are no spirits.

  1. 58 John F Kennedy Street, (at South Street)
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Belly Wine Bar

As its name suggests, the focus at Belly Wine Bar is the wine—the owners also run the well-stocked wine-and-cheese store Central Bottle in nearby Central Square. This cozy, low-key spot also offers a menu of snacks to fuel the sipping and an underrated cocktail selection.

  1. 1 Kendall Square, (at Hampshire Street)
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