Mariel

By Eric Twardzik · 09/22/2021    Downtown · $$$

Mariel’s ambience might be compared to the New Year’s Eve scene in The Godfather: Part II in which the Corleones attend a lavish ball in Havana’s last hours before la Revolución. But rather than ending in dramatic fashion, the party at this lavish Cuban restaurant and cocktail lounge in Boston starts anew every night.

Whether seated at Mariel’s U-shaped bar or beneath the dining room’s Art Deco chandeliers, you might feel like a guest at an antique grand hotel that hasn’t yet lost its grandeur (but has gained a thumping soundtrack of everlasting bass). In a puritanical town, Mariel is sexy, dare we even say clubby—and there is in fact, a nightclub downstairs.

Whereas other going-out destinations might serve Mojitos with indifference, Mariel has a menu section devoted to the drink. The eponymous iteration, loaded with fresh mint and bright citrus but devoid of sticky syrups, might be the best you’ve ever had. And yes, there are cocktails that are head-turners—like the Daquiri Time Out (look for DTO on the menu) that balances four or more half-Daiquiris in a metal tree surrounded by flaming limes—and others that are quietly thoughtful, in the case of a Triple Rum Old Fashioned that blends a trinity of rums and bitters to sublime effect. 

Whether you’re burning down the night or just seeking a well-made drink, Mariel is a fine place to spend the evening.

Located directly beneath the restaurant, Mariel Underground is open until 2 a.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights and regularly hosts live DJ sets. 

If you dig Mariel, there’s a lot more to love: it’s part of a restaurant group that also includes Yvonne’s, Ruka, and Lolita.

Must Haves

  • Served in a tall-but-stout “beer can glass” that allows the mint garnish to sit like a hanging garden, Mariel’s house version is what all Mojitos aspire to be: refreshing, acidic, astoundingly minty, and most of all, not sweet.

  • Guaranteed to bring out the phones of everyone in your party—and those sitting nearby—the DTO turns the concept of shots into baroque theater. Ordered with four, six, or eight half-sized drinks, these Lulo Daiquiris get their flavor from a syrup infused with a South American citrus fruit.

  • Drinks like an Old Fashioned but doesn’t taste like one. This boozy drink showcases the category’s rich diversity by blending rums from Guyana, Jamaica, and Mexico, along with three types of bitters: aromatic, orange, and mole. The sweetness comes from a touch of panela syrup, which is made from unrefined whole cane sugar.

Fun Fact

Mariel’s grandiose lobby, wide columns, and other palatial proportions owe to the space’s past history as a bank.

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