The Best Craft Cocktail Bars in Boston

Just in case 11 years of Cheers wasn’t enough of an indicator, Boston is a city that likes to drink. But if Sam and the gang were around today, they’d be busy churning out seasonal shrubs, beet-infused mezcal and tongue-in-cheek boilermakers for Norm and Cliff. Once the near-exclusive stomping ground for stouts and ales, Boston’s bar counters are now filled with everything from house-infused spirits to sherry cocktails to exceptional bar food. Below is a list of the best places—from proper craft cocktail bars to restaurants—to drink mixed drinks in Boston.

  • 1

    Alden & Harlow

    Boston's favorite rookie, Alden & Harrow is a very good restaurant with a very good bar. Things like the ubiquitous kale salad (no, really it's called the "ubiquitous kale salad") and fried baby squid pair well with fino sherry or any number of savory cocktails—which employ ingredients like smoked squash, cranberry sage shrub, salted beets and sweet potato vermouth—on the menu.  

    MORE INFO →

    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • full menu
    • craft beer
  • 2

    backbar

    Run by Sam Treadway, one of Boston's brightest bartenders, this pocket bar off an alley behind Journeyman (the progressive Somerville restaurant) covers a lot of ground for a companion piece. Though the seasonal menu is full of newfangled inventions (olive-oil washed spirits, smoked ice, foie gras cognac), there is an equally balanced spread of classics, including a Milk Punch that changes depending on Treadway's mood, or the season.  

    MORE INFO →

    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • outdoor / patio
  • 3

    Brick & Mortar

    Though Brick & Mortar makes great cocktails, it's also simply a neighborhood bar. Full of goofballs who know how to make great drinks, Brick & Mortar knows how to party, and they have the turntables to back it up. Often the menu is full of $6 shooters and cocktails that range from Margaritas to spur-of-the-moment inventions.  

    MORE INFO →

    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • bar food
  • 4

    Drink

    Chef Barbara Lynch's Drink has been the stage for a generation of wildly talented Boston bartenders. Inside this massive basement room is three yawning bars meant for drinking.  Behind one is a massive ice block that is slowly whittled down throughout the night for large format cubes and shaved ice. Behind another is a bartender making Southsides or Ward Eights or any number of classics. And behind yet another is a lady or gentleman setting overproof rum on fire in a bowl of Scorpion punch. And that's not even to mention the thoughtful wine list and exceptional bar food. Drink is a split-personality bar in the best ...

    MORE INFO →

    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • good wine
    • bar food
    • tiki
  • 5

    Eastern Standard

    Eastern Standard is hands down one of the absolute best places to drink in Boston. On the wine front, Colleen Hein's list—a mix of classics and more esoteric regional wines from Europe—is easily one of the best value lists in the country. The wines  are wearing low markups across the board, and the list has surprising depth, vintage-wise, at a number of price points. The same homage to the classic and obscure is also mirrored in the well-edited beer selection, while the cocktail program—run by Jackson Cannon (who also owns The Hawthorne)—is easily one of the Boston's best.

    MORE INFO →

    KNOWN FOR

    • Italian wine
    • natural wine
    • low wine markups
    • vintage wine
    • craft beer
    • craft cocktails
    • full menu
  • 6

    The Hawthorne

    Jackson Cannon's cocktail den below the Commonwealth Hotel meanders from bar room to weird hotel lounge with plenty of drinks to help you forget the zebra print chairs. From old standards to modern classics, the menu has every esoteric bottle a boozehound's heart could want from single-village mezcal to palo cortado sherry. All the bartenders here are well-versed in the weird stuff, so fear not if you don't know a manzanilla from an oloroso. Beyond cocktails, the bar has a fantastic menu of upscale bar food.  

    MORE INFO →

    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • bar food
  • 7

    Highball Lounge

    Highball Lounge is forgivably kitschy, mainly because it's located in a Kimpton Hotel—a chain that notoriously embraces the semi-cheesy. The bar is full of the sort of stuff you'd find in your elementary school closet: Connect Four, Jenga, viewfinders. But in place of the Seven Wonders of the World slideshow is a cocktail menu full of excellent highball cocktails.  

    MORE INFO →

    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • hotel bar
    • bar food
  • 8

    Island Creek Oyster Bar

    Part of the Commonwealth Hotel and under the bar direction of Jackson Cannon (Eastern Standard, The Hawthorne), Island Creek is a big, airy seafood restaurant that gets packed to the gills each evening with guests slurping bivalves. The refreshments list is longer than the actual food menu—which always includes no fewer than a dozen oyster offerings and a seafood casserole the size of your head—and full of seasonal riffs on classic cocktails and oyster-friendly sparkling drinks found under the "embarkments" section. The beer and wine lists are also notable.

    MORE INFO →

    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • craft beer
    • good wine
    • oysters / raw bar
    • full menu
  • 9

    JM Curley

    Boston's James Michael Curley served four mayoral terms, one gubernatorial term, two Congressional terms and two prison terms. Few politicians these days could pull all that off in one career. The current incarnation of JM Curley pulls off almost as much. In the front it's all perfect, greasy, semi-elevated bar food (fried pickles, burgers, fried chicken), Negroni Sbagliatos and enough nerdy craft beer to fill a small cellblock. In the back, it's Bogie's Place, a hidden steakhouse with Martinis, Old-Fashioneds, wedge salads and caviar. Party in the front, business in the back. Backwards, just like American politics.

    MORE INFO →

    KNOWN FOR

    • full menu
    • craft beer
    • craft cocktails
    • singles scene
  • 10

    No. 9 Park

    For more than 15 years, Chef Barbara Lynch's flagship restaurant has been a Boston institution. By Lynch's side since the beginning, Cat Silirie—the wine director for all of Lynch's restaurants—continues to maintain some of the city's best wine lists. From day one, Silirie has championed little-known wines and mentored some of Boston’s brightest talent--and she remains one of the most influential wine personalities in Boston. No. 9 Park still maintains the most robust and impressive list in the Lynch-Silirie brood, offering everything from back vintage Barolo to orange wine. The cocktail program, run by Ryan Lotz, has ...

    MORE INFO →

    KNOWN FOR

    • Italian wine
    • natural wine
    • craft cocktails
  • 11

    State Park

    In Virginia there's an oddly named state park, Hungry Mother, called so for the tragic Molly Marley who starved to death after escaping from her Native American captors. In Cambridge, there's a name-twin restaurant and its companion bar, State Park. You will not starve at either establishment. Between pimento cheese gougères and BBQ spaghetti, there are pitchers of Pimm's Cups, boilermakers (think Toronto shots and High Life) and house cocktails (including the Official State Park Cocktail)—all of which feel perfectly at home in Boston.  

    MORE INFO →

    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • craft beers
    • full menu
    • jukebox
    • games
    • singles scene
  • 12

    Straight Law

    From the team behind Brookline's Spanish haunt Taberna de Haro, Straight Law is named for a Savoy Cocktail Book drink that includes both sherry and gin—the bar's first two loves. As in Spain there are Gin & Tonics galore, but there are also proper gin Martinis, Sherry Cobblers and plenty of the neat and nutty stuff. Cocktails are by a couple of Drink alums and the sherry list is easily one of the largest in the country.

    MORE INFO →

    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • bar food
    • Spanish wine
    • sherry
  • 13

    Tavern Road

    "Late-night" in Boston means 11 p.m. or midnight. But relativity aside, Tavern Road is a late-night industry darling that dishes out fantastically gooey cheesesteak, grilled cheese with tomatoes and Korean chicken wings until 1 a.m., Thursday through Sunday. To wash it down there are lots of reliable Campari cocktails and a section dedicated to drinks borrowed from bartenders near and far available at the bar, which is open until 2 a.m. daily.  

    MORE INFO →

    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • full menu
  • 14

    The Gallows

    This South End darling has a dark name—referring to the neighborhood's history as hanging grounds—and it lives up to it. In a good way. Inside, the Gallows is all moody, reclaimed barn wood, bloody cheeseburgers and morbidly named drinks. The Jane Toppan (citrus-infused vodka, Lillet, orange flower water) recalls the 19th-century Massachusetts nurse who poisoned over 30 people. But there are also cleverly titled things like the Bangkok Block (bourbon, thai-spiced sugar syrup, vermouth) and several Bloody Mary (back to morbid) iterations on Sundays.  

    MORE INFO →

    KNOWN FOR

    • full menu
    • craft cocktails
    • craft beer
  • 15

    West Bridge

    Perhaps the best place to meet a nerd who also has good taste in food and drink, West Bridge has become MIT's de-facto bar and kitchen. Open straight through lunch to dinner on weekdays, it's an airy place to plop down with a book and a drink, whether it's a glass of grower Champagne (the wine list is full of small producers at low markups) or a cocktail with beet-infused mezcal. There's also lots of whiskey here, and they'll make a Mint Julep or a Tipperary with your choice of the brown stuff.  

    MORE INFO →

    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • full menu
    • champagne
    • natural wine
    • low wine markups
    • lots of whiskey

Related Articles

FROM AROUND THE WEB