There is nothing quite like a nice stiff drink made just right. Whether you prefer your cocktail shaken or stirred, here is a look at five of Boston’s top mixologists who will create the perfect sweet, salty or savory concoction for you.
1 Avery Bar
If you are looking for a taste of the season, head over to Avery Bar at the Ritz-Carlton, Boston Common and ask for Sterling Jackson for a Fall Ahead, Fall Behind cocktail, the newest addition to their late fall cocktail menu. “This is a great one especially when you’re not quite sure what you want,” she said. “And I love the counterbalance in this drink. It’s bright, but it’s dark. It’s sweet but it’s not. It’s simple, but it’s interesting. It’s familiar, but it’s different at the same time. It’s seasonal, but it’s not pumpkin spice. This cocktail is made with Pilar Dark Rum, Sugarman Maple Syrup, Lemon, Bitters and Banton’s Hard Cider. Other than this, my favorite all-time drink to make is the Vesper. It’s just my favorite because it’s a great cocktail, all the time. Regardless of the time of year. It's a classic.”
10 Avery Street Boston, MA 02111
2 Grill 23 & Bar
Grill 23 & Bar is best known for their melt-in-your-mouth aged steaks, but last year, they let us know they were just as serious about their cocktails as they are about their beef when they unveiled their impressive new bar. Here, Brahm Callahan, a Master Sommelier (the highest distinction in fine wine and beverage service held by just 230 professionals worldwide) oversees the wine the cocktail programs. “Death & Taxes is one of our signature cocktails,” he said. “We smoke into Buffalo Trace Bourbon a Monte Cristo cigar for about 20 minutes so you really taste it in the bourbon. Then we take that bourbon and build it into peach simple syrup with lemon juice, which is then shaken with a fernet rinse.”
161 Berkeley Street Boston, MA 02116
3 Franklin Café
Over in the South End, Franklin Café is where most local chefs come after a late-night shift so their drinks better be good; and they are. Ask for their signature Cucumber Collins made by Jason Cool. “We take cucumber vodka and mix it with lemon juice, soda water and simple syrup,” he said. “It has been on our cocktail menu for many years along with French Laundry, which is made with gin, St. Germain, Luxardo Maraschino, grapefruit bitters and lime.” Specialty cocktails here include our favorite (Don’t Be A Jerk) made with Brugal Anejo, fresh lime juice and jerked pineapple shrub.
278 Shawmut Avenue Boston, MA 02118
One of the most creative places to try a new cocktail is at Drink in the Fort Point Channel. Here, there are no cocktail menus; everything is left to your imagination and the mixologists’ creativity. “People may come here looking for a drink they have in mind or tell us they want something season or something that is not too sweet,” said Ezra Star, Drink’s general manager and bar manager. “We build from an array of cocktails that we have planned out, some of which are seasonal.” Some of her signature creations are the Screaming Meemie, Roaming Principle and L'incontro.
348 Congress Street Boston, MA 02210
5 OAK Long Bar + Kitchen
When the Fairmont Copley Plaza transformed the beloved classic steakhouse known as Oak Bar into OAK Long Bar + Kitchen, a place to gather with friends for drinks and shared plates, Bostonians were somewhat apprehensive. When we were introduced to the reinvention, we knew we would become longtime friends, thanks to the creative cocktails poured by Lou Saban. “What is hot right now for mixologists is making infusions like a citrus vodka using fresh ingredients,” he said. “While drinks used to be focused on sweet and sour in the 80s and 90s, it now includes savory and salty. One of our most popular drinks is Wilbur's Fashion, our take on the traditional Old Fashioned. We make our own bacon infused bourbon using simple ingredients so you get that delicious taste of both sweet and spice.”
138 St. James Avenue Boston, MA 02116