Brick & Mortar

By Eric Twardzik   Cambridge · Bar · $$

The unmarked second-story bar above Central Kitchen feels like a microcosm of Central Square itself. It’s tough to figure out whether Brick & Mortar is a funky dive packed wall-to-wall with Budweiser-gripping college kids, or a serious cocktail lounge where startup staffers congregate for high-end drinks.

The truth is that Brick & Mortar is somehow both.

The shoebox-shaped bar with exposed brick walls has little ornamentation, and that’s just fine as the lights are permanently dimmed. The room’s acoustics and a booming soundtrack promote the use of outdoor voices, so don’t expect to sit at its brass-topped bar for an intimate conversation.

What you can expect is a menu primed for cocktail nerds and wallet-conscious students alike. The house creations are often spirit-forward with creative twists, such as the Mexican Radio, which combines tequila, pomegranate liqueur, and a house-made spicy ginger syrup. The bourbon-based Dollywood looks like a Whiskey Smash but tastes much different, thanks to the addition of almond-based orgeat. And the mighty Paradise Garage enhances the character of its blended Scotch base spirit with bitter Cynar and dark apricot liqueur.

The draft list ranges from Guinness to local craft, but it’s the offerings from the “Packaged” portion of the menu that bring a smile to our faces—who can’t appreciate an eight-ounce Budweiser priced for $2? Likewise, a “Shots for all my friends!” section gives you the option to share four miniature daiquiris or a Crush on a Stripper with your group.

Brick & Mortar is a serious bar that knows how to have fun. And isn’t that the point of going out in the first place?

The Crush on a Stripper isn’t an actual cocktail, but a daily changing drink served as a quartet of shots (sharing is encouraged). Ask a bartender for details on the Crush on a Stripper du jour.

Stretch your drinking dollar by requesting The Border Trilogy. You’ll receive a shot of tequila, a Mexican beer, and a shooter of sangrita, all for $8.

You’ve got until 11 p.m. to order the more substantial dishes on the right side of the menu, like Duck Fries and the Fried Chicken Basket. But the snacks on the left side of the menu are served until 1 a.m. Wednesday through Saturday to quash those nocturnal cravings for Deviled Eggs or Jumbo Wings.

Must Haves

  • This tequila-based dram has a fresh, fruity flavor that’s perfectly balanced by a sharp ginger snap.

  • If a Whiskey Smash and a Mai Tai had a baby, it’d taste something like this sweet, nutty cocktail served over crushed ice.

  • If you like your drinks dark, strong, and deep, Paradise Garage is your destination.

Fun Fact

Spy that dormant disco ball hanging from the ceiling? It does function—but only when bartenders feel the vibe is right.

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