Archive for the ‘Boston bars’ Category

March 31st, 2009

Marliave – Best Boston bars

Restaurant Marliave

Established: 1885
Specialty: Cocktails, wine
Prices: Moderate
Atmosphere: A historic bar in downtown Boston that isn’t a tourist trap and mixes classic cocktails? We’re there. See Best Boston bars for address and contact info.

Drinkboston is wholeheartedly rooting for the new-and-improved Restaurant Marliave (10 Bosworth St. near Downtown Crossing), even though it still has some stuff to work out, vibe-wise. Chef Scott Herritt of the Grotto bought the 125-year-old establishment last year and reopened it as a three-level enterprise featuring an itty-bitty oyster bar on the first floor, a cafe-bar on the second floor and a fine-dining restaurant (with a small bar) on the third floor (3 floors + 3 bars = woohoo!).

The place is a historical, architectural treasure that I pray, given our economic predicament, can stick it out for the next few years to become a bulwark against the usual type of downtown Boston watering hole: corporate, expensive, dumbed-down. When people ask me, “I’m staying near Faneuil Hall, where can I get a good drink nearby?” and I have to tell them to get on the Red Line and go to Cambridge — well, that makes me mad. Now I tell them to go to the Marliave.

Herritt wanted his bar program to reflect the quality and thoughtfulness of his cooking (classic French, Italian, New England fare), so fresh-squeezed citrus and Kold-Draft ice became basics for a menu of classic and classic-influenced cocktails. (In fact, the Marliave was the first place in Boston to use Kold-Draft ice.)

Some of my faves are the Jennie Churchill (a good Manhattan, named after Winston’s American mom, with Rittenhouse rye, Noilly Prat sweet vermouth and bitters, garnished with a Luxardo cherry), the FDR (a tall pitcher of gin martinis — this is where the Kold-Draft ice, which melts slowly, is crucial — with Vya vermouth that you can share with friends), and the Molasses Flood 1919 (Sailor Jerry rum, molasses, fresh lime, bitters). Bar manager Jackie Ross, who worked at the Grotto and, before that, the B-Side, brings solid experience and a no-nonsense style to the job. Two other B-Side alums, Christopher Duggan and Al Harding, pull a few shifts here, too.

On some nights, the Marliave feels like it’s struggling to find energy. And sometimes — at least in the main bar, which is where I usually am — there’s a palpable lack of personality, which is only exacerbated by a too-large TV behind the bar. But I’m calling these quibbles for now. I wish the Marliave all the luck in the world, because downtown Boston needs it.

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Posted in Boston bars, Cocktails | 21 Comments »

March 19th, 2009

Couldn’t it just be the ‘Starlite Lounge’?

Abbey Lounge Somerville - signWere you wondering what was happening to the space formerly occupied by Somerville’s most venerable live-music venue, the Abbey Lounge? Here’s what:

March 18, 2009 (SOMERVILLE, MA) Trina’s Starlite Lounge, a restaurant and bar located at 3 Beacon Street in Inman Square, is slated to open Summer 2009. Owners Josh Childs (co-owner of Silvertone Bar & Grill) and Trina and Beau Sturm (City Bar and Highland Kitchen, respectively) have sixty years of collective front-of-house and back-of-house experience, including some of Boston’s most notable bars. Together they will bring exceptional service, fun and appealing cocktails and affordable, southern-influenced bar fare to the urban diner in an environment inspired by 1940s and 1950s.

The folks behind Silvertone and Highland Kitchen? Check. A new, hip hangout in the Inman Square vicinity? Check. “Appealing cocktails,” “affordable, southern-influenced bar fare,” and “an environment inspired by 1940s and 1950s?” Check. Unfortunately, however, this will no longer be a live-music venue. And, instead of just being called the Starlite Lounge, it’s called Trina’s Starlite Lounge. Do we really need one of the owner’s names attached? Couldn’t we let the concept speak for itself?

Still, sounds like a place well worth investigating.

In other bar-launch news, I’ve heard a couple of reports that the old B-Side is being gutted (at least partially) in order to make way for the new establishment that will occupy that corner of Windsor and Hampshire in Cambridge. Could we really be in for two new good bars this summer?

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Posted in Boston bars | 19 Comments »

March 6th, 2009

Wanted: your vote

Boston Phoenix 2009 Best issueHey, imbibers, guess what? Drinkboston’s been nominated for the Boston Phoenix’s 2009 “best” issue, and your vote is crucial!

The category: Boston’s Best Blog/Podcast. The stakes: high. The payback: a giant bowl of punch on Boston Common? A keg party at Redbones? A group hug at Eastern Standard? Oh, I’ll think of something.

While you’re at it, check out (and place your vote for) some of our old friends in the Best Bartender and Best Bar categories.

Posted in Bartenders, Booze in the news, Boston bars, drinkboston in the news | No Comments »

February 4th, 2009

Nips – 2/4/09

I’m finally getting my ass in gear over what to do with those little items that are worth mentioning but don’t warrant an entire post: I’m filing them in series of posts called Nips, after those little bottles of booze you get on airplanes, in hotel minibars or at liquor-store checkout counters. (Fun fact: Until 2005, South Carolina liquor laws dictated that bartenders make drinks with nips instead of free-pouring or measuring into a jigger. Holy idiocracy.)

1. Do you remember those ads for Miller High Life in the late ’90s and early ’00s? They were understated little vignettes capturing the modern alterna-male’s winking appropriation of bygone “guy-ness,” from an era when men had bowling trophies and dedication to a particular brand of beer. The ads were unlike anything else you saw on TV. That’s because they were directed by Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Errol Morris (Fast, Cheap and Out of Control, Standard Operating Procedure). Since documentary filmmaking — even Oscar-winning documentary filmmaking — doesn’t pay the bills, Morris, who lives in Cambridge, has done lots of ad work. I’d like to thank A Continuous Lean, Michael Williams’ terrific blog on American design, for reminding me of the Miller ads. You can watch all the spots here.

2. Here’s another homework assignment. Read these two recent articles on Slate:

Change We Can Taste: Bush’s White House served terrible wine. Obama should do better.
Obama Raises the Bar: In politics, as in life, a little alcohol can go a long way.

3. How about the recession-induced proposal to put a 5% tax on liquor purchased at package stores? If it’s approved, will it make you drive to NH to buy booze?

4. More recession news. A little while ago, the Globe published what I thought was a detailed and fair article on Locke-Ober’s historic decision to close for lunch and what that signified for anyone who thought the old-fashioned business lunch (you know, the one with Martinis) was still alive. Well, that story sparked a rumble in the comments section between those who hold Locke-Ober dear as a Boston institution even though its food and service have been eclipsed many times over by competing high-end restaurants, and those who are seriously bitter over their financial and employment circumstances and want to mow down anything in their path that smacks of aristocracy, including Locke-Ober. Yikes. Personally, I love the place despite its silly prices, because it is a Boston institution. But resting on your laurels is not a business strategy. I wish, at the very least, that Locke-Ober would hire a team of bartenders who could bring cocktail hour at L-O back to the glory of the Gilded Age.

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Posted in Beer, Booze in the news, Boston bars, Nips | 16 Comments »

January 20th, 2009

Craigie on Main – Best Boston bars

Craigie on Main - bar

Established: 2008
Specialty: Cocktails, wine
Prices: Moderate to high
Atmosphere: A bustling, convivial bistro bar whose combination of cocktails, dining and service is unmatched in the Boston area. See Best Boston bars for address and contact info.

I rejoiced when I first heard that top chef Tony Maws was moving his Craigie Street Bistrot, just outside Harvard Square, to a larger site in Cambridge that would accommodate a full bar, and, more importantly, that that bar would be overseen by one Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli. Opened in late 2008, Craigie on Main (853 Main St., site of the former La Groceria in Central Square) answers the prayers of anyone who loves great restaurants but prefers the atmosphere of a bar to that of a dining room.

At the new place, Maws’ culinary excellence and creativity are aided and abetted by Schlesinger-Guidelli’s talents as a mixologist and barman. The two men make a formidable team. S-G, who developed an effortless (but disciplined) creativity during his time at Eastern Standard, is given free reign to practice his craft to the hilt. In addition to stocking quality spirits and using Kold-Draft ice, he makes many ingredients from scratch, such as a Carpano Antica replica for a Martinez or an amber vermouth for his own Camino Cocktail (amber vermouth, Rittenhouse rye, myrtle berry liqueur). He also looks to the kitchen for inspiration, pillaging herbs and other produce or bruléeing a sugar-coated tangerine before muddling it into a tequila-based drink. All the while, he mentors a young bar staff, passing on that combination of old-school expertise and understated good humor that distinguishes the best contemporary Boston bars.

The bar area consists of a dozen or so stools, plus a few café tables. Warm lighting, retro posters and lots of windows counteract my yearning for an interior with a little more soul. While the dinner menu is expensive enough to put Craigie on Main into the “special occasion” category, the food is fairly priced for the quality. Luckily, there’s a bar menu for those wanting a more casual bite, and the drink prices are on par with other quality Cambridge restaurants: $9-$11 for cocktails, $4-$10 for beers (mostly craft and import) and $9 and up for wines by the glass.

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Posted in Boston bars | 6 Comments »

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