These 14 cocktail bars and restaurants are serving outstanding drinks in Boston

Cheers to these tiki bars, whiskey lounges, and cocktail-driven restaurants.

Blossom Bar
Angie Valencia at Blossom Bar in Brookline. Barry Chin/Globe Staff

While Boston certainly holds its beer to high standards, the city also plays host to award-winning bartenders and cocktail bars. Start sipping your way across Boston with these 14 boundary-pushing cocktail destinations, from swanky lounges in downtown hotels to speakeasies in Somerville.

When Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli’s Alcove opened on Lovejoy Wharf in October, the West End newcomer was given favorable reviews for its land, field, and sea fare. But it’s the bar that first greets guests when they walk through the door, and the drinks here deserve equal praise. A seasonally-influenced cocktail menu offers stellar creations like Fluffy Bee, a rum-based drink that includes bee pollen, ginger, egg white, and honey. Squash the Julep is a tropical delight with the addition of brown butter squash to its base of cognac and rum; paired with an order of beef carpaccio, it makes for a solid post-work stop. (50 Lovejoy Wharf, Boston)


Backbar in Somerville.

Backbar in Somerville.

Down a quiet alley in Somerville’s Union Square and through a nondescript door lies Backbar, a moody cocktail bar serving fantastic drinks. Cuddle up by low tables in the corner on date night or hang out by the bar — either way, you’re privy to whimsically-named drinks like the Mcconaughaissance with bourbon, lemon, mint, benedictine, and peach (alright, alright, alright) and the Bananakin Skywalker with scotch, pineapple, lime, banana, maple, and cappelletti. Can’t make up your mind? The bartender’s choice is a great way to take advantage of Backbar’s talented staff. Just don’t steal their figurines. (7 Sanborn Court, Somerville)

The Baldwin Bar
This place in Woburn is a bona fide cocktail destination. Head bartender Ran Duan crafts tiki-inspired drinks like the Good Morning Vietnam — rum, Licor 43, passionfruit, lime, buttered coffee — on the first floor of the Baldwin Mansion. Upstairs, a more intimate experience at The Baldwin & Sons Trading Co. allows Duan to play even further with techniques and ingredients: Dry ice fog pours from a glass holding The Oracle, made with gin, St. Germain, and absinthe. (2 Alfred St., Woburn)

Return of Major Tom at Better Sorts Social Club

Return of Major Tom at Better Sorts Social Club.


Better Sorts Social Club
If your drinking tendencies lean toward a more adventurous side, a trip to Better Sorts in downtown Boston is in order. Led by head bartender Naomi Levy, the cocktail list here is a medley of ingredients you’re more likely to find in your fridge’s produce drawer: carrots, arugula, hot pepper jelly, parsnip. For a Southern-inspired drink, try the Fifteen Minutes, with the aforementioned hot pepper jelly along with peanut basil Hayden bourbon, collards, aquafaba, and lemon stock. (90 Tremont St., Boston)

Blossom Bar at Sichuan Garden
Part tiki bar, part Sichuan restaurant, Blossom Bar at Sichuan Garden — sibling of Woburn’s Baldwin Bar — opened its reimagined space in January 2018 with Duan at the helm. The drink menu takes guests on a temporary trip to the tropics, boasting cocktails like the Vivir Sonando with aperol, macademia cream, and grapefruit; and the Spanish remix with Amontillado sherry, Blackstrap rum, sesame, and pineapple milk. Order from the food menu (you can’t go wrong with the dan dan noodles) to turn your drink hour into a full meal. (295 Washington St., Brookline)

A cocktail creation at Drink.

This menu-less Fort Point bar is an institution in Boston’s cocktail scene and has won national awards since opening in 2008. If you’re looking to relinquish your cocktail preferences to the bartender, this is the spot. Share your go-tos — something sour, something with egg white, maybe mezcal? — and the skilled bartenders behind the stick will craft something just for you. (348 Congress St., Boston)


Eastern Standard
Considered ground zero for so many talented Boston bartenders and their careers, Kenmore’s Eastern Standard has been serving outstanding drinks since opening in 2005. Bar director Jackson Cannon (who went on to open The Hawthorne down the street) has curated a cocktail list that includes seasonally rotating drinks along with classics and Eastern Standard originals. Settle into the long, marble bar and order a Queen Christina: bourbon, Swedish punsch, lemon, and sugar. (528 Commonwealth Ave., Boston)

The Hawthorne
Cannon opened The Hawthorne in 2011, and it quickly became a must-visit spot for high-quality drinks. Not much has changed since then: The cocktail list still features custom drinks like Conference made with apple brandy, rye, bourbon, cognac, and bitters, plus a lengthy whiskey list. Head there for Sunday Sips, when the bar hosts spirit tastings in the Stone Room. (500A Commonwealth Ave., Boston)

Lion's Tail

Cocktails at Lion’s Tail.

Lion’s Tail
Stop by this South End cocktail bar on the first Wednesday of every month, and you’ll be treated to Woman Crush Wednesday, featuring talented female Boston bartenders who donate a portion of the proceeds from their guest cocktail menu to a worthwhile cause. Drinks on the regular menu are divided into categories like Adventurous, Good Eggs (cocktails made with — you guessed it — eggs), and “By Lion’s Tail,” which includes the Big Moe: Glendalough Irish whiskey washed in brown butter and toasted pecans. (354 Harrison Ave., Boston)

Longfellow Bar
One of the newest cocktail bars on this list, Longfellow Bar is chef Michael Scelfo’s latest project, a snack bar and cocktail lounge above Alden & Harlow in Cambridge. In addition to small plates of house-made pretzels, pigs in a blanket (you’ll want to take a trip back to your childhood for this one), and gussied-up deviled eggs, there are clever cocktails from bar manager Dan Pontius, who named the 10 house cocktails after tracks on a Bruce Springsteen album. His favorite? My Father’s House, featuring rye, peppermint, and cacao. (40 Brattle St., #3, Cambridge)


Customers at the bar chat at Parla in the North End.

Among the Italian restaurants and cannoli shops that populate the North End sits Parla, a small restaurant and cocktail bar with a wild drink list. Peruse the menu and you’ll find notes and drawings left behind by previous guests, along with a cocktail lineup that includes both classics and original creations. We recommend asking straightaway for a Dungeon Master card, which allows patrons to roll a 20-sided die for a random cocktail. Who knows what you’ll get — a Dutch martini, perhaps, with an edible octopus tentacle for a garnish, or the Pros. Melone with prosciutto and melon. It’s all in the roll of a die. (230 Hanover St., Boston)

Sporting a pre-Prohibition vibe, Saloon in Davis Square boasts both an impressive whiskey list and straightforward cocktails that are unique to the Somerville bar. The bootleggers section of the menu is dedicated to the good brown stuff: the Spaghetti Western made with Highwest double rye, the Rope a Dope made with Prizefight Irish whiskey. Looking for a clear spirit? Try the Syndicate with Glendalough gin, St. Germain, and aperol. (255 Elm St., Somerville)

Try the Shore Leave’s namesake cocktail.

Shore Leave
Shore Leave opened just as winter was getting underway in 2018, and it was perfect timing. Entering the underground tiki paradise feels like taking a mini vacation, one where chef Colin Lynch’s Polynesian bites and bar director Ryan Lotz’s original drink lineup put you on island time. Cocktails are a twist on classic tiki versions, like the Morale & Welfare, a daiquiri that incorporates cinnamon and mole bitters; and the Amaro di Cocco, which combines the sweet and frothy elements of a pina colada with the bitter, spirit-forward character of a negroni. First-timers should start the evening with the bar’s namesake cocktail, which includes a white rum from Privateer in Ipswich. (11 William E. Mullins Way, Boston) 


Entering Yvonne’s in Downtown Crossing is like discovering a sultry underground lair, one where chandeliers hang from the ceiling and a recently opened room below the library lounge contains a contemporary art gallery. Don’t be intimidated: There’s a drink for everyone on the menu, whether you’re here with a date or hoping to leave with one. Fans of the vodka mule will appreciate Yvonne’s passion fruit version, and the bar is also known for making one of the best penicillins (scotch, lemon, ginger, honey) in the city. Want something a little “out there”? The Toki old-fashioned seems, at first, like your standard old-fashioned — until the sesame hits your tongue, making for an umami-rich sip. (2 Winter Place, Boston)