Don't let this Ivy-league name, with its vintage lights and ski lodge den in dusty rebellion, deceive you into thinking it's a place for the aspiring e.e. cummings or next Norman Mailer. The draw here is live music—mostly blues and rock 'n' roll—and a big front bar featuring American-made craft cocktails shaken and stirred by tattooed and torn-jeans-sporting bartenders. Smokers are welcome to indulge their vice in an enclosed outdoor alley accessible through a back entrance, while high rollers can reserve tables and private areas. Even a Harvard degree won't get you access if you don't heed the dress code, which is discouraging of shiny shirts, shorts, flip-flops and logos.
Good for: Serious cocktail connoisseurs should head to the back R&D Bar to sample a nightly curated list of bespoke cocktails designed by a rotating brigade of mixologists. The night we were there, head bartender Matt Wallace was pouring mean New Orleans coolers like Vieux Carre ($10)—absinthe with ginger liqueur, lemon juice, sugar and ginger beer.
The scene: Things are fairly calm until moments before the band goes on, when an influx of locals and groupies take over the front bar, hoarding tables and crowding in for the show. That's also when VIP's have access to the upstairs area—where'd those bracelets come from?—and some folks head to the R&D bar.
The playlist: Saturday nights see a live band and burlesque dancers performing to rock-n-roll, blues and oldies, while SodaPop Sundays brings Chris Materson spinning old-school 50's, 60's and 70's pop.
The bartender says: The housemade "Damn You, Matt Wallace" bitters are named (clearly) for Matt and delicious. (If you're lucky, the bartender will drop a dash on the back of your hand and let you ruminate over the impressiveness of the bitters).
Drink this: Gin-lovers should try The Filament ($10), a smart mix of dry gin, fresh lemon and grapefruit and bitters, while the Bourbon-lover in us asks for Baby's First Bourbon ($10), a mix of Bulleit Bourbon, orgeat syrup, fresh lemon and angostura. Six American microbrews are on draft at a time, along with a small canned-beer selection.