Where to go for cocktails
This underground bar been firmly planted at the top of local and national cocktail-enthusiasts' must-see lists for the personal approach to mixology. Master bartenders present patrons not with a menu but with an ear to listen to each imbiber's preferences, crafting artisinal tipples from their stock of premium spirits and mixers.
The Hawthorne is a swanky lounge spread over several subterranean rooms in the Hotel Commonwealth. It can be difficult to find a free space on one of the many couches, but the perfectly-executed cocktails—both classic and inventive—are worth the wait. A variety of small plates keeps the fun going; the soft pretzel with bourbon mustard pairs well with nearly everything.
ArtScience: Culture Lab & Café
Surrounded by world-class research and scientific offices, Café ArtScience is a one-of-a-kind establishment—half familiar dining experience, half sensory trip. The bar produces some of the city's most inventive cocktails, filled with offbeat, unusual ingredients.
The Baldwin Bar
One of the city’s most exciting mixologists can be found out in Woburn. Ran Duan took over the drink menu at his parents' suburban Chinese restaurant and turned it into an outré bar program that draws cocktail connoisseurs from all over. Classic drinks like pisco punches get bracing updates (pineapple vinegar?); Duan even won an award at the Bacardi Legacy Global Cocktail Competition for his Father's Advice (rum, amaro, vermouth, sherry, creme de banana). In Baldwin & Sons Trading Company, the bar within the bar within the restaurant, things get downright kitschy, with tiki glassware and dry ice effects.
Best bars for beer
Lord Hobo Brewing in Woburn crafts hoppy ales and IPAs like the popular Boom Sauce. Their Inman Square bar features their brews as well as one of the most thoughtfully-curated beer lists around. 40 taps and 30-plus bottles may be a relatively small offering, but the taps rotate frequently and feature craft brews from around the country alongside occasional rare and obscure beers that bring in the beer geeks. The menu includes thorough descriptions of each beer, and staff are happy to inform and help you decide. Despite the rarities and the expert knowledge on tap, Lord Hobo maintains a neighborhood vibe, with a tasty menu of elevated pub fare.
Divey and kitschy, Bukowski Tavern exudes the attitude of its namesake author. By the looks of it, you might think you’d only find PBR and High Life, but the draught and bottle list are extensive and focused on hard-to-find craft beers. Much of the list features regional brews, and the styles represented will satisfy all tastes. If you can’t choose, chat with a knowledgeable bartender or just spin the Wheel of Beer and let fate decide.
The Publick House
If your thing is Belgian and Belgian-style beers, Publick House has a top-notch selection. You’ll find an astounding collection of Trappist and Abbey Ales, Flemish sours, stouts, eisbocks, and more. The draft list has three sections: Belgian-style, “Here” (regional craft beers), and “There” (elsewhere). You’ll find regional craft brews from Trillium, Fiddlehead, Exhibit A, Hermit Thrush, Maine Beer Company, and others. For sustenance with your strong beers, the menu is equally attractive, featuring a notorious five-cheese mac ‘n cheese and a selection of moules frites with a choice of broth made from different local beers.
Trillium Brewing Company
Trillium’s brews are highly sought after, whether at their experimental brewery/retail shop in Fort Point Channel or at their primary brewery and taproom in Canton. Trillium is offered at several craft beer bars around Boston, but the seasonal beer garden on the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway is one of the best places to enjoy their beers. (The garden is open Wednesdays through Sundaya during Spring and Summer.) The selection changes daily, but any of their offerings—New England wild ales, sour ales, wild saisons, double IPAs, and experimental brews—will taste delicious in the open air.