Boston's Best Cocktail Bars
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Boston is a beer town, no doubt about that. Our natural wine scene stands with those in much larger cities, too. But despite a lingering reputation as a straight-laced city that definitely sleeps, Boston also boasts a legion of hospitality pros ready to shake, stir, and garnish cocktails fit for any night out. Whether you’re looking for a dimly lit lounge to see and be seen or a neighborhood dive that’s generous with the pours, local bartenders offer up a strong selection. Here’s where to go for great drinks and cool scenes in Boston.
Boston’s Best Cocktail Bars
Stepping through the freezer door into A4cade is like finding the early ’00s frozen in time, but with way better drinks. Situated speakeasy-style at the back of Roxy’s Grilled Cheese, the Central Square cocktail bar is a labyrinth of arcade games, with TVs playing shows from our teen years. The bartenders take inspo from the era for fun drinks like Rainbow Road, a bright, juicy, liquid version of watermelon Sour Patch named after a notoriously difficult Mario Kart course. Take me there.
The speakeasy entry into Backbar is an ironic introduction for a cocktail bar buzzing with creativity. Drinks are themed around a beguiling cultural reference (bears, for instance; or Encanto) and expertly made by owner Sam Treadway’s tight-knit team. Plus: Bar snacks come from Union Square neighbors Field & Vine and Littleburg. Take me there.
Second-generation restaurateur Rand Duan reimagined his parents’ Sichuan Garden restaurants as some of Boston’s most imaginative cocktail spots. Blossom Bar, in Brookline Village, sets tropical drinks with Latin influence—like the guava, rum, and mascarpone-spiked Bocadillo Sour—with bold, fiery Chinese cuisine. Further away, The Baldwin Bar at Sichuan Garden is a tiki cocktail destination in Woburn. Take me there.
Blink and you’ll miss the sign for this second-story bar in Central Square. Once you’ve found Brick & Mortar, you’re at one of Cambridge’s coolest haunts. The dimly lit room has a brass-topped bar and a record player ready for listening nights. Drinks tend to be classics with well-balanced twists, such as the Paloma-like refresher When Doves Cry, with blanco tequila, Campari, soda, and a house-made salted grapefruit cordial. Take me there.
This restaurant is tucked into the Innovation and Design Building at the farthest reaches of the Seaport. It’s pretty much the only cocktail game in that part of town, and Chickadee holds it down. Beverage director Ted Kilpatrick and chef John daSilva, both alumni of No. 9 Park, have created a bar scene perfect for after-work or pre-dinner drinks, with bold flavors, bright contrast, and impeccable technique coming through in every drink (and dish). Take me there.
Coquette’s semi-circular bar might be one of the city’s most beautiful, borrowing liberally from French art movements (peep the ceilingscape!). The vibe is also on point: This Seaport hotel bar is the latest from the hospitality group responsible for cocktail scenes like Yvonne’s and Mariel. Most importantly, the drinks—such as a cognac-based Espresso Martini—sont vraiment super. Take me there.
Two influential Boston bartenders—Daren Swisher and Joseph Cammarata, most recently of Hojoko—make cocktail nerdery cool at Daiquiris & Daisies. Named after their two favorite drinks, the food hall bar boasts a textbook menu of classics matched with the optimal spirit, plus some of the most exciting originals in downtown Boston (try the cilantro-mezcal Big Papi’s Salsa). Total bonus? Its location inside High Street Place means you can pair top-shelf drinks with a lobster roll from Dive Bar, Gorgeous Gelato, and more. Take me there.
Delux Cafe is a true dive bar in every sense—except that you actually want to order something other than a bottled beer. Schlitz, High Life, or ’Gansett are perfectly respectable orders, but don’t write off cocktails here. The busy, South End bar turns out well-made (and inexpensive) classics and house specials like All the Way Mae, a summery sipper of bourbon, peach, allspice, and lemon. Take me there.
One of Boston’s premier craft cocktail bars and an anchor of Barbara Lynch’s culinary empire in Fort Point, Drink is for the cocktail curious and adventurous alike. All you have to know is generally what you like (or don’t), and the bartenders will take it from there. There’s no drink menu—and no limit to Drink’s alcoholic artisanship, now led by longtime Boston bartender Frederic Yarm. A wait isn’t unusual, and try to arrive hungry: The burger and other bar food befits one of Boston’s best-known chefs. Take me there.
Brand-new to Boston’s bar scene, Farmacia does things a little differently. With just nine seats in the North End, a ticketed reservation is required which includes three-plus cocktails. You may start with an aperitif then progress through a series of bright, boozy, or down-and-brown drinks on a theme like Italy—say, a Negroni on vacation, a cacio e pepe-inspired Martini, and spicy mezcal-coffee number. Intrigued but don’t see any resos open? Watch Farmacia’s Instagram Stories for last-minute openings. Take me there.
Earlier this year, the team behind Back Bay Greek stunner Krasi unveiled this intimate basement cocktail bar, which honors the goddess Hecate in mysterious ways. Find the alleyway entrance (you’ll likely have to wait; it’s walk-in only) and discover another world: Drinks are inspired by global folklore and use unusual ingredients, such as Santa Muerte, named for an iconic Mexican folk figure and made with Latin spirits, corn, and yuzu kosho. Take me there.
This lively kitchen and bar is the type of neighborhood restaurant everyone wants to have next door. Highland Kitchen is a local staple for Southern-inspired comfort food (go on a Monday to try the fried chicken), and it boasts an enviable bar scene. The drinks are inexpensive, strong, and well-made: we love chef-owner Mark Romano’s signature spicy ginger beer of the Mark and Stormy; and all the tropical influences, such as the Mai Tai Dragon, made with Kraken Rum and Orange Curaçao. Take me there.
Though you can literally see the green walls of Fenway Park from the pool-side seats of Hojoko, this Fenway neighborhood hotel bar feels miles away. When we’re not pounding the bar to do Sake Bombs after a particularly painful Red Sox loss, we’re probably sampling the selection of Japanese whiskeys in Highball form. Large-format Punch Bowls are great for groups. Take me there.
With two locations in Allston and Cambridge, Lone Star Taco Bar is a go-to for the best Margaritas around, but that’s not all this Tex-Mex joint can do. There’s a focus on tequila and mezcal with drinks like Texas Money (blanco tequila, grapefruit and pink peppercorn cordial, yellow chartreuse); but also rum, whiskey, and more on the menu. The Cambridge location’s big, L-shaped bar is a great place to put a few back, with or without tacos. (Who are we kidding? Get a few tacos.) Take me there.
The Longfellow Bar in Harvard Square is located above Alden & Harlow with a finger-food menu of bold flavors. This second-story bar’s changing cocktail menu (aka Track List) is themed around classic songs, which you might hear spinning on the record player. Expect to encounter a range of flavors, from savory (like Faeries Wear Boots, with vodka, vegetal Salers Aperitif, and rosemary) to delightfully offbeat (like From Mars To Sirius, with brandy and black sesame whipped up with egg white). Take me there.
There are only a few bar stools at Mahaniyom, but the entire intimate restaurant is a cocktail bar straight out of modern-day Thailand. Shareable plates of elusive-around-here regional dishes, such as Yum Ngoh (rambutan salad with shrimp) and beef Massaman with a rich house-made curry paste, well-matched with drinks, like a Thai tea-infused rye Sazerac, created by co-founder and longtime Shojo alum Chompon (Boong) Boonnak. Take me there.
This downtown spot is sexy—dare we say, clubby. Between the bumping music and the Art Deco design details, you might feel like a guest at an antique grand hotel that hasn’t yet lost its grandeur when you’re seated at the U-shaped bar. Rum flows every night at Mariel in the form of Mojitos and Daiquiris, two forms given special attention on the menu. Take me there.
A speakeasy and raw bar in East Boston, Next Door will surprise you. It’s a new bar with a dress code (!), for one thing, and you’ll have to find the entrance co-located at Pazza on Porter, a casual neighborhood restaurant. Once you get in, however, the beautiful room will impress—and when your drink arrives, it will undoubtedly top the feeling. Try the Lock & Key, a silky-smooth tropical milk punch that’s a real gem. In fact, it’s served inside a treasure chest. Take me there.
Nearly 25 years of service has earned No. 9 Park a well-deserved reputation as Beacon Hill’s definitive fine-dining restaurant, but the bar scene alone warrants a visit. Though just 12 seats at a polished wooden bar plus a handful of high tops, the bar room is always well-attended, with the same level of service that defines the main dining area. The cocktail menu is divided between original creations and classics, and we’ll never tire of the simply perfect Palmyra. Take me there.
The sky-high drapes, carved ceilings, and chandeliers set the scene at OAK Long Bar, one of the classiest cocktail bars in Boston. The 110-year-old bar of the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel is positively gilded, but attentive service and fun libations make it a down-to-earth experience. The simple Bee’s Knees is destination-worthy here, made with honey-sweetened Barr Hill Gin from Vermont and served on ice in an adorably chic bear mug. Take me there.
This speakeasy can be found behind sister restaurant Troquet on South on a narrow side street in Boston’s Leather District. The aptly named Offsuit dresses up drinks with ingredients like infused liqueurs and melon rind. The dimly lit bar also has a turntable and plays albums end-to-end—yet it’s all refreshingly unpretentious. A handful of reservations are available early in the evening; otherwise, be prepared to put your name on a list and wait. Take me there.
Chinatown’s best cocktail bar, Shōjō nails a vibe somewhere between upscale modern restaurant and casual urban tiki bar, with exposed brick and colorful, floor-to-ceiling graffiti art. The cocktail list is long and fun, sparking just the right amount of curiosity with options like a mezcal drink with pea sprouts and yellow chartreuse, a baiju mule, coconut infused-Japanese whisky, and pho-spiced vodka. Take me there.
This tropical oasis in the South End is a well-decorated basement lounge full of over-the-top drinks, such as the signature Shore Leave Cocktail and Query’s Rum Manhattan, which gets added richness from Somerville-invented marshmallow Fluff. Considering it’s from the same owners as Bar Mezzana—one our favorite spots for raw seafood—you should not overlook the lengthy sushi menu. And just wait until Christmas! Take me there.
The self-conscious dive bar aesthetic of State Park may feel tailor-made for sharing pitchers of ’Gansett, but the cocktail menu stocked with strong, simple drinks deserves attention. Classics like a Cape Codder or Fernet & Coke are available by the pitcher, and a “Shot & a Beer” section of the menu elevates the divey tradition of the Boilermaker by pairing cheap beers with shot-sized cocktails. Take me there.
This retro kitchen and neighborhood bar in Somerville is beloved for brunch and rib-sticking plates like fried chicken and hot dogs. Strong, balanced cocktails accompany it all, from the chocolate milk-inspired Matt’s Quickie to the tequila-spiked Fallen Angel, cut with a jalapeño syrup, mango, lime, and a barbecue-dusted rim. Beyond the comfort food and great drinks, excellent service is what makes Trina’s Starlite Lounge such a mainstay. Take me there.
A high-end izakaya and sushi bar in the Back Bay from one of Boston’s best-known chefs (Ken Oringer of Toro, Coppa, and Little Donkey), Uni also happens to be a lively place to casually stop in for a cocktail. These drinks are worthy of sharing menu space with award-winning sushi and small plates: Try the aptly named I Can Do Both, a sultry summer drink of blended Scotch, strawberry Campari, coconut, birch, and cinnamon. Take me there.
Yes, this is still Harvard Square, despite looking like the set of Legends of the Hidden Temple. Wusong Road is an homage to the connection between tiki drink culture and American Chinese cuisine from Menton alum Jason Doo, who grew up in his parents’ restaurants. The upstairs Tiki Bar menu of 12 classic cocktails is set in the style of the Chinese Zodiac. It’s a good time with Pu Pu Platter essentials. Take me there.
This not-so-hidden gem in Downtown Crossing features two bars and Gilded Age details aplenty preserved from its tony previous tenant, Locke-Ober. Yvonne’s cocktail menu features old-school standards like the Ward 8, a rye-based sipper that was invented at Locke-Ober; along with house creations, celebratory large-format cocktails, and one of the best Espresso Martinis in Boston. Take me there.