American cities don’t come much more traditional than Boston. Home to Paul Revere House, Faneuil Hall and the Freedom Trail, the city practically drips colonial history, and can leave a visitor with a curious desire to don a tri-cornered hat.
But Beantown has embraced the American cocktail renaissance with full fervour and, through the Boston Beer Company and its Samuel Adams beers, has become a hub of modern American craft brewing.
Cheap and cheerful
Although it’s named after a neighbourhood in Dallas, Deep Ellum is in many ways a quintessential Boston bar. But look closer and the long, slender room accented by dark wood on one side and exposed brick on the other reveals itself as a more urbane watering hole, well worth a journey to the west Boston neighbourhood of Allston.
Although the impressive line of draft taps could suggest otherwise, the bartenders at Deep Ellum are as comfortable concocting cocktails as they are pouring pints, and there is an extensive selection of American whiskies. At its heart, though, this is a beer-and-a-shot sort of place, so make the beer Jack d’Or, a saison-style ale from local heroes Pretty Things, and the shot whatever wonderful straight rye your server suggests. 477 Cambridge St., Allston.
In the Fenway area, Eastern Standard is as accommodating to drinkers as it is diners, with a marble bar stretching almost the entire length of the art deco-inspired room. The bartenders are particularly skilled at turning out note-perfect cocktails in stunningly rapid succession.
The wine cellar at Eastern Standard is well above average, but it’s a shame to waste the efforts of those talented mixologists on mere glass-fills of vino. Opt instead for a Kysely and learn all about the Czech herbal spirit Becherovka, which is combined with lemon, sugar and bitters into a cocktail as paradoxically suited to the role of aperitif as it is to playing the digestif. 528 Commonwealth Ave.
Every visit to Boston should involve some history. The OAK Long Bar + Kitchen at the Fairmont Copley Plaza combines more than a century of storied elegance with a full and recent refurbishment, making it one of Boston’s most stylish places to sup. Gone are the predictable red leather and dim lighting, replaced with a more contemporary look that still exudes old-school class and charm, nowhere more so than at the 25-metre-long copper-topped bar.
A venue of such grandeur tempts its patrons toward drinks of some seriousness, a Jazz Age coupe of champagne, perhaps, or a studiously stirred cocktail. The canny Long Bar drinker, however, will combine the two and order a Rosebud, Moët & Chandon Champagne mixed with rose syrup and Aperol, thereby proving that frivolity and style might happily, indeed deliciously, co-exist. 138 St. James Ave.
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