The emergence of the craft cocktail movement in Boston fostered the resurrection of many cocktails, both classic and forgotten, by some of the city’s great bars. Some local bartenders would argue that they never stopped making these drinks, while others may contend they enjoy giving guests what they want.
You can feel quite confident that bringing this list with you on a night out will not get you any funny looks or puzzling questions from the barkeep. All we ask is that you choose your bar wisely and let the bartender in on your quest to broaden your mind and tweak your palate.
This list is heavier on the gin-based drinks and does require fresh juice, a few fringe ingredients and some know-how.
In no specific order, we recommend the following 10 cocktails and beverages:
1. The Aviation: It was the most Googled cocktail of 2013 for a reason. Gin, maraschino liqueur, crème de violette, and lemon juice. Order if you’re looking for citrus with floral notes, and not too much booze on the nose.
2. The Martinez: Consider it the grandfather to the martini, or at least its classy next door neighbor. Typically a combination of Old Tom gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur, Angostura bitters, but there are variations and improvements out there. Order if you love Manhattans, but would like to take a step to the left.
3. The Tom Collins: It’s your grandfather’s highball, and that’s a good thing. Simply gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and soda — shaken. Order if you can’t bring yourself to say “gin and tonic” or “vodka soda” ever again.
4. The Corpse Reviver #2: London gin, absinthe, Cointreau, Lillet Blanc, lemon juice: equal parts of everything to awaken your palate, drive conversation, and please your bartender. Order if you’ve seen your last lemon drop. Just make sure to ask if the bar carries absinthe first.
5. The Toronto: Rye, Fernet Branca, simple syrup, orange oil — a riff on the Manhattan, once again. But Manhattans are a state of mind. Order if you just won some money on a scratch ticket.
6. The Brown Derby: Bourbon, grapefruit juice, honey syrup. It’s a riff on the whiskey sour named after the classic LA diner. Order first if you plan on sticking with bourbon the whole night. It makes a nice palate sparker.
7. The Sidecar: Cognac or Armagnac with Cointreau, and lemon juice. It’s not a sin to use cognac in a cocktail and bars are carrying a variety of brands and levels these days, so you won’t break the bank by ordering one. Order if you must dodge the margarita.
8. The Daiquiri: It’s the unofficial Boston bartender’s default cocktail, the DTO, daiquiri time out. White rum, lime juice, simple syrup — simplicity, flavor and texture. Drink ice cold and only ice cold. Not a sipper. Order one if you can’t make up your mind when handed a cocktail list.
9. The Vesper: London gin, vodka, Cocchi Americano, lemon oil — Ian Fleming’s riff on the martini. Ask for it stirred, not shaken. Drink very cold and hold on tight. Order if you’ve never ordered a martini or played cards.
10. Mezcal: Not a cocktail, but a thing to behold. Smoky like scotch, hot like tequila, floral like nectar. Ask the bartender who’s the mezcal nerd on the bar and see what happens. Stories can be told about individual bottles. Go for the good stuff. Order if “action” is your middle name.