In the mid-1980s Sam Malone was the quintessential Boston bartender. Cheers was not only the place where everybody knew your name, but also your drink — a mug of flat beer. If beloved barfly Norm stepped out of the touristy watering hole in 2010 he’d find a new city where craft bartenders, sourcing local ingredients, have made Beantown a barhopping hub. As the locavore movement jumps from table to tumbler, here are a few sips not to miss.
By Kathleen Pierce
348 Congress St.
At the subterranean Drink in the arty Fort Port Channel neighborhood there are no menus, no visible bottles, only a bartender in a lab coat asking “what’s your poison?” Customized cocktailing takes time at Barbara Lynch’s drink destination, but when fresh herbs, local fruit and ice shavings linger lovingly with spirits poured from a vial, what’s 10 minutes? For the perfect pick me up, order the Sazerac — muddled sugar cube, Herbsaint and bitters.
Back Bay Social Club
867 Boylston St.
Tom Mastricola’s maple bacon Bloody Mary at the Back Bay Social Club should come with a fork and knife. The bar star fries up slabs of maple bacon, which he drowns in bourbon and lets sit overnight. This “breakfast in a glass” is just one of 10 Bloody Marys that dominate the brunch menu in this classy, uptown joint. “It’s pretty great to see what’s happened in the last 10 years here,” said Mastricola, who also makes his own coffee liqueur for White Russians, a drink he is poised to bring back.
1205 Chestnut St.
Shopping farmer’s markets is how bar manager Mike Stankovich warms up for a shift at the retro Biltmore Café. Whatever catches his eye by day ends up in his cocktails by night. In the summer white currants and fresh mint turn elegant with a splash of prosecco cocktails. Come fall he incorporates local organic apple cider, honey and farm fresh eggs into luscious libations. The tattooed tender is partial to throwback drinks like the Moscow mule served in a pewter cup.
Coda Bar and Kitchen
329 Columbus Ave
At this neighborhood hideaway on Columbus Ave bartender Drew Kilmer steeps vodka in sun-dried tomatoes, basil, garlic and rosemary for gourmet Bloody Marys. “It smells like foccia bread,” he said. When time allows, he hits the Copley Square farmer’s market for local fruits and veggies. The Pimm’s Cup with muddled cucumber and house ginger syrup is another homemade hit not to be missed.
Kathleen Pierce is a freelance journalist who writes about food, culture, business and travel in the Boston area.