Take a walking tour of Boston’s cocktail history with a local bar legend

Plus, more boozy events at Thirst Boston, New England's largest cocktail festival.

Brother Cleve leads a cocktail tour
Brother Cleve leads a cocktail tour. –JBSmith Photography

At Thirst Boston, cocktails are the starting point for everything.

From Friday, April 26 to Sunday, April 28, the 6th annual cocktail festival will host seminars, tours, and parties that aim to educate both cocktail aficionados and casual imbibers who want to expand their drinking repertoire. Want to know more about natural wine? Local wine experts Haley Fortier (haley.henry, nathálie) and Lauren Friel (Rebel Rebel) will explore the origins and recent rise of this wine category. Curious about pairing chocolate with booze? Retired chemist Jules Remenar will teach attendees how to make a whiskey-flavored ganache and discuss other complementary pairings. Seminars will highlight specific spirits (“Rye Not? American History in a Glass”), techniques (“Tricks of the Trade”), and how to best utilize your senses (“The Nose Knows: How Smell Alters Taste in Cocktails”).


While most of Thirst Boston’s events will take place at the Boston Center for Adult Education, some will be held in other locations around town. On Saturday, Brother Cleve — one of the most influential figures in the revival of Boston’s cocktail scene — will lead a walking tour of the city’s cocktail history, from Chinatown tiki bars to notable Irish pubs. He’ll also lead a rum class with Banks Rum co-founder Jim Meehan at Drink in the Seaport, where the two will discuss the spirit’s origins and history. And, as with most of the classes, there will be plenty of sampling.

In addition to the 30-plus events that will take place across two days, Thirst Boston will also host a couple of parties: State Lines and the Intergalactic Blender Bender. During State Lines, held at the Innovation Design Center on Saturday evening, a carnival will take place in the form of games, prizes, food, drink, and live music, with a portion of the proceeds going toward Lovin’ Spoonfuls, a food rescue mission in Boston. On Sunday, the Intergalactic Blender Bender at China Pearl will feature 12 bartending teams competing to create the ultimate blended drink; costumes are highly encouraged.


Tickets for Thirst Boston are now on sale: Individual seminars are $25 each, while a Saturday pass is $85, a Sunday pass is $110, and a cocktail scholar pass — which includes three Saturday seminars, three Sunday seminars, tickets to both parties, and invitations to after parties — is $180. For a complete list of classes and to purchase tickets, check out the event’s website.

Thirst Boston; various locations; Friday, April 26 from 7 p.m.–1 a.m., Saturday, April 27 from 11:30 a.m.–1 a.m., Sunday, April 28 from 11:30 a.m.–11 p.m.; thirstboston.com