November 2nd, 2008

Last call at B-Side

We knew this day was coming. For those who haven’t heard, sorry for the late notice: B-Side closes its doors for good after tonight. I’m heading over there for one last drink. I hope I can get in the door, as I imagine many people will be there to pay their last respects to the bar that re-introduced greater Boston to serious cocktails.

Permalink | Filed under Boston bars |

6 Responses to “Last call at B-Side”

  1. Arnold

    Thanks for the heads up. I had not heard the news and since I live in the neighborhood, I went over tonight for one last drink myself.

    I hate to say it, but my last trip actually made it easier to let the B-Side go and look forward to what may come next. Only because as I looked around the packed bar, I felt a little old. And knowing that I was at least a year late to the B-Side scene back in the day (and wouldn’t know Brother Cleve from my sister Sandy at the time), the only conclusion I could come to tonight was that it was time to move on. The B-Side was always a scene, but where was this great outpouring of love, even less than a quarter of the numbers, on most days for the B-Side lately? When I stopped by these past few months for a drink on a weekday, the bar was mostly empty. If it was such a touchstone for a certain community, where was the patronage that would keep it open?

    And to be even more pointed, the cocktail lovers in this town pretty much abandoned the bar a while ago. Its only a limited sample set, but while people will mention the B-Side on boards such as Chowhound, the real love is left for Eastern Standard, Deep Ellum, No. 9 (and now Drink), Green St., etc. (not that I don’t love those places for cocktails–just pointing out the comparative lack of attention for the B-Side).

    The historical impact of the bar on the local cocktail scene cannot be understated. Or, at least it can’t according to the vast majority of observers (I say this with the idea that at the very least if not the B-Side, another bar would have pushed the classic cocktail revival). Though tonight the crowd several deep at the bar was for the most part asking for Hi-Life and PBR. It was, for the most part, not a cocktail crowd. And that was always the line I think the B-Side walked. Its food menu was priced for those willing to spend $9 and up on a drink, while its general attitude and scene was populated by the Hi-Life/PBR drinking crowd. And while I’m happy to drink those beers in certain situations and have nothing against that scene, it seemingly can cause problems in a business model for a bar and restaurant that is slightly off the beaten track.

    The B-Side has been unfortunately neglected for months, if not years, now. So there in my mind cannot be any hard feelings for the owner if he got a decent deal to get out. I only hope the new owner can come up with an attractive atmosphere along with decent food and good drinks–and create a new scene worthy of an energized new crowd.

  2. MC Slim JB

    Sorry I missed the swan song, glad I managed to visit a couple of times in the last few weeks. Here’s the award I gave the B-Side in stuff@night’s recent annual Dining Awards issue:

    Biggest Loss: the Sale of the B-Side Lounge

    The 1998 opening of the B-Side lounge spearheaded the great revival of Golden Age cocktails that Boston is currently enjoying. Now-mourning cocktail connoisseurs may console themselves with two thoughts: 1) Bartenders are still plying their B-Side-honed skills at similarly artisanal cocktail bars like Eastern Standard and Green Street. 2) Incoming owner Daniel Lanigan, proprietor of Western Massachusetts beer-geek bars the Moan and Dove (Amherst) and the Dirty Truth (Northampton), vows to maintain a classic cocktail list even as he adds 40 new craft-brew taps. RIP, B.

  3. Tom

    Its true, the B-Side has closed its doors. Was there for the end last night and it was interesting to watch (and drink) as the number of bottles behind the bar dwindled to nothing but creme de menth and slo gin. First the Bud ran out, then the Highlife, then the PBR, then the rums and vodkas, the gin went quick. Several current and former bartenders went behind the bar for a last shift to toast the crowd of regulars – and I mean crowd. I couldnt stand to stay to last call but I scored a menu as a memento.

    My understanding is that the deal on the sale of the place went south and the liquor license is gone as well. Its too bad to see such a “Golden Age” lounge fall down like that. As one poster put it, the place had been neglected for quite a long time, so it was inevitable but the cocktails NEVER waivered. Fortunately, all of the bartenders are in new jobs, Rob at Che Henri, Dave at Deep Ellum, Joe and Claudia, at Highland Kitchen..the folks at Green Street, Drink….etc.

    Good bye B-Side.. you will always be in our hearts!

  4. ljclark

    Wow, Tom — where did you hear that the sale of the B-Side went south?

  5. DoubleMan

    Strange to hear that news about the deal falling through.

    From what I’ve heard, Daniel Lanigan (sp?) sold his share of the Dirty Truth in Northampton to use for acquiring the B-Side. Maybe if the B-Side deal did fall through, he is still looking to open something in the area.

  6. Arnold

    The menu….darn. Totally should have tried to score one that night. Didn’t even think of it. Though I long ago grabbed an electronic version of the cocktail list when it was posted on their website.

    Just last night I too heard that the deal went through from one of the former bartenders working at a new location. (I don’t want to name names, since I didn’t ask if I could share such information and don’t want to throw anyone under the bus if it turns out to be just a rumor). Not only would that stink in general, but as a neighbor I was looking forward to something opening up at that location…

Leave a Reply