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Photograph: Brian Samuels

17 best cocktail bars in Boston

Enjoy a night on the town with a drink designed to fit your every mood at these killer cocktail bars in Boston.

JQ Louise
Written by
JQ Louise
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The cocktail scene in Boston has taken off in recent years and is now flourishing with variety and flair at some of our city’s finest mixology hot spots. Whether you’re looking for a strong classic drink, a painstakingly crafted concoction, an internationally inspired libation or a playful boozy slushie, you won’t be disappointed at these best cocktail bar picks. Everything from speakeasies to pubs to trendy hot spots are on offer. Not in the mood for a mixed drink? No problem: You can still hit up one of Boston’s many dive barslegendary Irish pubs, and lively sports bars for a laidback beer or heavy pour of the black stuff (this is Boston afterall, we do love Guinness).

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best bars in Boston

Best cocktail bars in Boston

  • Bars
  • Back Bay

Hecate is the coolest new bar that has opened in Boston proper in the past few years. Owned and operated by the same team behind Krasi, this underground speakeasy feels as if it belongs in New York City, rather than Boston in the best way. As you enter, your eyes slowly adjust to the darkness and the bartenders, who are referred to as your “spirit guides” whip up the stylish drinks in the background as you wonder who else has managed to snag a table at the coolest spot in town.

  • Bars
  • East Boston

Next Door is another amazing speakeasy that opened this year in Boston. Located in Eastie, just a short walk from the Maverick T stop on the Blue Line, it is accessible no matter which neighborhood you live in. The entrance is just behind Pazza on Porter, and you must know the secret code to get in. Once you enter, you feel as if you have stepped back in time. The chic bar and over the top cocktails make it a wonderful place to spend an evening.

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  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary American
  • Downtown
  • price 3 of 4

Once the site of the beloved bar Locke-Ober and a million three-martini lunches, Yvonne’s has preserved what truly matters—the 19th-century mahogany bar and the same clubby ambiance—while introducing its own modern touches. Folks flock to this cocktail lounge, which can only be entered through a hidden doorway inside a fake storefront posing as a hair salon, to soak in all of its dimly lit glory and down some creative drinks. Snag a seat on one of its rich upholstered couches or a table within its book-laden library to join all of the beautiful people in sipping some beverages—or get even more discreet by finding its second secret door leading to an underground club during the weekends.

  • Bars

Nestled in a tiny corner of Brookline Village, Mahaniyom offers an inviting neighborhood hangout to enjoy artfully crafted Western cocktails made with an innovative Thai twist. Amongst the fun fusion drinks that you’ll find flowing from this bar: a chrysanthemum-infused gin and tonic and rambutan-flavored martini. While the cocktails are reason enough to visit, your trip will be complete by ordering a few of its authentic Thai tapas to snack as you sip.

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Bars
  • Hotel bars
  • Back Bay
  • price 2 of 4

If you’re looking for old school elegance and a stiff cocktail, you’ll find it at OAK Long Bar. Situated inside the Fairmont Copley Plaza, you’ll find exactly what the name promises: a long, wooden bar where Boston Brahmins and out-of-town hotel guests gather on tufted leather stools to see, be seen and, most importantly, drink. Bartenders in bespoke vests shake a mean (and generously priced) cocktail under the warm light of crystal chandeliers, and the martini service here is nothing short of legendary.

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • price 2 of 4

Situated inside Sichuan Garden's Brookline Village location, Blossom Bar shakes up Latin-inspired drinks and gives locals a sophisticated craft cocktail experience without having to endure that Green Line ride all the way downtown. This spot frequently refreshes its menu to make way for new inventions, while also maintaining a number of its most beloved beverages. Whether you're sipping a seasonal feature or one of its classics, your drink is sure to be meticulously prepared, peppered with exotic ingredients and served in style.

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Seaport District
  • price 3 of 4

This underground bar has long graced the top of many local and national cocktail lists, thanks to its personal approach to mixology. Master bartenders present patrons not with a menu, but with an ear to listen to each imbiber's preferences, crafting custom, artisinal tipples from their stock of premium spirits and mixers.

  • Bars
  • Harvard Sq
  • price 3 of 4

Perched atop Michael Scelfo's celebrated Harvard Square eatery Alden & Harlow, his Longfellow Bar occupies the historic space once home to Café Algiers. Specializing in craft cocktails and small bites, this bar follows a communal, family-style approach similar to that of its sister establishment downstairs. It offers a laser-focused beer and wine selection, as well as mixed drinks that wow guests with simple ingredients, transformed by house-made infusions, vinegars, syrups and bitters. This Brattle Street bar experience isn't complete without ordering one of Scelfo’s award-winning burgers, which are available anytime and in unlimited supply here (unlike at A&H below). 

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • price 2 of 4

One of the city’s most exciting mixology programs is based out in Woburn. Ran Duan took over the drink menu at his parents’ suburban Chinese restaurant and turned it into a libation sensation that draws in cocktail connoisseurs from all over. Duan even won an award at the Bacardi Legacy Global Cocktail Competition for his Father’s Advice (rum, amaro, vermouth, sherry, creme de banana). If visiting on a weekend, head upstairs to check out the library-themed Baldwin & Sons Trading Co. for even more top-shelf cocktail magic.

  • Restaurants
  • North End

Located on Hanover Street in the North End, Parla offers an impressive, historically rich cocktail menu to accompany its Italian fare. You can sip on modern drinks mixed with housemade shrubs (elixirs created from fresh fruit preserved with sugar and vinegar using a technique dating back to colonial times), some of the classics—with a twist—or a bespoke beverage that the bartender will make based on your own personal preferences. If you’re a daring drinker, try your hand at Parla’s Dungeon Master, where a 20-sided die decides your order and unlocks a beverage on its secret menu.

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Central Sq
  • price 2 of 4

Located upstairs, behind an unmarked door in Central Square, you’ll enter a dimly lit space with a horseshoe-shaped bar, exposed brick and ample stool seating. It’s the cozy atmosphere you’re looking for to enjoy cocktails, with witty names and bar snacks (i.e. antipasto skewers and grandma gary's gooey garlic bread) that fuel the fun. The menus rotate, but bartenders will likely be willing to recreate an old favorite, if you ask nicely. 

 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Somerville
  • price 2 of 4

This hidden gem, tucked away in an alley in Union Square and marked only by a small sign at the entrance, slings drinks that will appeal to even the most discerning palates. With its speakeasy vibe, you’ll be greeted with impeccable service and an ever-changing menu of inventive craft cocktails that often follow a fun theme (i.e. its backBEAR menu of bear-inspired beverages). Space is limited and reservations are recommended.

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  • Restaurants
  • Somerville

T&B Wood Fired, the new restaurant from husband-wife duo Tim and Bronwyn Wiechmann, features wood-fired pizza and craft cocktails. Mixologist Aaron Rushinski mans the beverage menu, switching up the bar’s unique offerings on the reg. Current creations include Strawberry Fields (strawberry infused vodka, lavender, lemon, and watermelon seltzer) and a Hop-Tonic (cucumber infused gin, lemon, hop and honey syrup, and tonic water).

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • South End
  • price 2 of 4

Your tropical paradise is just a T ride away, thanks to this South End watering hole. Shore Leave's bar program offers a bevy of Tiki cocktails, including classics like the Mai Tai, Blue Hawaii and Painkiller, as well as other creative, wonderfully fruity concoctions that you'd love to be slurping down while sunning on some beach. To complete the illusion of being on an exotic getaway, the interior is meant to resemble an island oasis, complete with a bamboo-accented bar and jungle-inspired design touches.

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • price 2 of 4

One of Inman Squares most popular hangouts, Trina's rose from the ashes of the classic-but-grimy Abbey Lounge. This bar's low lighting and dark wood paneling contrast with retro images splashed just about everywhere you look. Craft beers and well-made cocktails satisfy the barflies who reluctantly give up their stools at closing time. 

  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • Somerville
  • price 1 of 4

Not your average cocktail bar, Earnest Drinks—located inside Gracie’s Ice Cream—offers a full menu of cocktails, including alcoholic versions of your favorite parlor drinks. Sip on a Guinness stout float, a pandan and whisky frappe or Red Bull vodka slushie. Although the allure of a sweet and boozy frozen beverage is hard to ignore, don’t miss out on its other cocktails, such as the Young Sirens Wail (a strawberry-whisky punch) or the refreshing Chris #2 (chilled Lillet, vodka and grapefruit).

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  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary American
  • Downtown
  • price 2 of 4

A popular post-work hangout near Downtown Crossing, jm Curley is always a solid option for a weekday rendezvous over well-made beverages. Friendly bartenders mix an eclectic selection of drinks—from bar book classics to jm originals—for the cocktail-lovers out there. Meanwhile, beer aficionados have their pick of hard-to-find brews off of a lengthy list. 

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