If residents of the East Coast are colored in one cliché by non-residents, it’s their abruptness. But that seeming rudeness is actually more nuanced, a culture affectation laden with beautiful sarcasm and a need for efficiency. Taken literally, it can be off-putting. Taken in context (as most long-time citizens of the region will testify), it’s the best damn approach to communicating. And Boston may be the best example. What can be initially off-putting quickly translates into a conversational bear hug that’s loud and loquacious, gregarious and in-your-face, delivered with sarcasm and humor that rides on a deep river of sincerity, often accompanied by a wide smile and friendly slap on the back. Want evidence? Spend one hour chatting with Red Socks fans in the standing-room-only section of Fenway Park.
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Even Yankees fans might find a touch of camaraderie. No-nonsense bars have populated practically every corner of Boston for decades—which is perhaps why the city also houses some of the first true pioneers in the American craft beer scene as well as high-end cocktail establishments, upstart micro-breweries with cult followers, and more than a few killer spots to toss back a few while enjoying the cityscape—at least when the city isn’t covered in feet of snow. Here’s a primer for diving into the best drinking that the city has to offer. Compared to other cities, the footprint of Boston itself is pretty modest, but expand into its neighboring locales and the area just keeps getting bigger.
Venture out—or keep your eyes peeled—for other Boston-area breweries like Cambridge Brewing Company, Tree House, Nightshift, and Jack’s Abby, which makes only lagers and could trigger a new trend with their delicious Imperial Pale Lager. Named after Charles Bukowski—literary genius, crazed madman, and arguably the first man to own the label “barfly, ” it’s the best kind of beer bar: one with a serious list of beer on draught and by bottle, but without a hint of pretention. Expect about 65 beers on tap—regional, U.
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S. , and international—as well as bottle specials and a big book of other beers for sale, along with wine, cocktails, and “American” cuisine. They have outposts in Cambridge as well as in downtown. Located in the downtown Fort Point neighborhood, this cocktail bar was founded by famed chef Barbara Lynch and offers one of the most competitive and inspired cocktail programs in the city.
And though you can always order a classic, it’s better to tell the bartender what you like, and let the magic unfold. They also offer a shortlist of wines and a small selection of seasonal craft beers. The modest food menu feels prepared with the same care, edited down to a few tempting options like a duck frankfurter or a small plate of grilled halloumi with nectarines and basil. There are other outposts of this Boston staple—both in the city and throughout the country, but visit this one.
Not only does the selection include an array of small-batch American craft beers in bottles and on draft, each curated by a staff of all-certified cicerones, but you’re also close to famed Fenway Park, a required pilgrimage for any baseball fan. Craft beer, an extensive selection of wine, and loads of rare spirits typify the offerings in this, one of Boston’s best liquor stores. Their booze collection earned top marks from Wine Enthusiast (especially their selection of single malt scotch) while their beer specialist strives to assure that their more than 6,555 brews in stock represent the best of the region—including loads of New England-brewed limited and special releases—along with a cache of imports. Visit Fridays for the free tasting events, or tempt the depths of your bank account by ordering off their inventory via the Drizly app, which includes delivery to most of central Boston.
With two locations in Boston (the Financial District and in the South End) and one in Nantucket, Brix focuses on fostering an atmosphere that makes you want to linger, not just grab a bottle and go. As expected, the staff has tasted every bottle on their shelves, and offer sage guidance in selecting the most surprising wines. Each outpost hosts scheduled tasting events, along with special Brix by Night events, which typically includes a winemaker, a chef, and a whole mess of rare wines for a sit-down tasting.