Boston's 10 Hottest Bars

By Scott Kearnan
July 7, 2014
By Scott Kearnan  |  July 7, 2014

In our latest Hottest Bars installment, we turn our attention to the newest openings and most thriving scenes of the last several months. Now go, sample, sip — and spread the love. 

  • Rooftop @ Revere

    Why It's Hot: You heard the "rooftop" part, right? The Revere Hotel Boston Common has a plush, South Beach-style haven with cabanas, a glass-encased pool and a menu of tropical-inspired bar bites and cocktails. Weekend parties bring daytime disco crowds that strut in their swimsuits and tip back beaucoup bubbly.

    Must-Drink: Our summer bucket list of must-try food and drink includes the rooftop's "Classy Jell-O" shots, served in mini martini glasses and available in varieties like champagne sangria and violet daiquiri.

    Insider Tip: If you want to roll like a big spender, know that the rooftop cabanas actually have no rental fee — just some reasonable food/beverage minimums. 

    200 Stuart St.; 617-482-1800

  • Photo by: Infinity Portrait Design

    Cathedral Station

    Why It's Hot: Many locals mourned when it was announced that Fritz Lounge, a popular South End gay sports bar, would close after 30 years. But then much of the management team got together to open Cathedral Station only a few blocks away, resurrecting Fritz's spirit in a space triple the size. (And now boasting a massive patio for booze-soaked brunches.)

    Must-Drink: There's a lot of brew-swilling around the pool tables and dartboards, but a menu of specialty cocktails is on hand if you need something with a bit more punch. We're partial to the house sangria, which mixes red wine with peach liqueur, flavored rums, lemonade and ginger ale.

    Insider Tip: Parking is at a premium in the South End, so if you're inviting out-of-town pals to head into the city for a drink, Cathedral Station might be a good choice. You can't tell from Washington Street, but it has its own large lot in back.

    1222 Washington St., Boston; 617-338-6060

  • Photo by: Joel Benjamin

    Trophy Room

    Why It's Hot: While some of the Fritz team opened Cathedral station, the actual former Fritz space is now home to the Trophy Room, a neighborhood American that has quickly developed its own vibrant bar scene. We think it has something to do with those retractable floor-to-ceiling windows that expose the shiny, subway-tile-lined space to the South End street, creating an open-air party vibe at the front area's boisterous bar and surrounding high-tops.

    Must-Drink: Bar manager William Barr Xerxa, formerly of The Friendly Toast, put together a crafty cocktail list that has fun without getting precious. We declare a winner in the Sore Loser, a strong but smooth salve of Four Roses bourbon, Fernet, Peychauds and ginger beer.

    Insider Tip: While Fritz put minimal emphasis on edibles, Trophy Room has a real and robust dinner menu thanks to chef Evan Campbell. For a closer look at what to order, check out our recent Cheat Sheet.

    26 Chandler St.; 617-482-3450

  • Brass Union

    Why It's Hot: Part American tavern, part game lounge for competitive cocktailing, Brass Union opened in June in the former home of Precinct, a restaurant that paid homage to the building’s history as the one-time Somerville police headquarters. There's a food-focused dining room in front, but tipplers take to a rear lounge outfitted with plenty of board games, shuffleboard, tabletop arcade games and more. There are even more quirky diversions on the spacious patio.

    Must-Drink: Get lit with the Rum and Smoke, locally distilled Bully Boy rum with orgeat, ginja berry liqueur, and juice from wood-smoked limes.

    Insider Tip: Brass Union just kicked off brunch hours over the weekend, so you can now make it your spot for Sunday sip- and play-dates.

    70 Union Sq., Somerville; 617-623-9211

  • Garage Boston

    Why It's Hot: Punky, gritty Allston isn't the kind of place you'd expect to find a sleek, Downtown-style nightclub. But that's exactly what Garage delivered when it revved up in April. This is where go-go dancers writhe in cages, Euro crowds gyrate to international club hits and everyone poses for sweaty #selfies.

    Must-Drink: Honestly? You probably won't remember. There's plenty of top-shelf liquor and expensive champagne, but people come here for the scene. Just plan to get your Grey Goose on.

    Insider Tip: As befitting a space with some "luxury car"-inspired decor flourishes, Garage offers valet parking — highly unusual for the area.

    20 Linden St., Allston; 617-771-2122

  • Wink & Nod

    Why It's Hot: This speakeasy-style cocktail den in the South End opened in late March. You'll find swanky digs and creative twists on classic cocktails, plus a culinary program devised by the wunderkind duo known as Whisk. 

    Must-Drink: "Must-drink" if you're into conspicuous consumption, that is. (Or just feel like treating yourself to one big splurge.) The Billionaire Bijou, pictured, is a combination of rare Nolet Reserve gin, Martini Gran Lusso, Chartreuse VEP and Léone saffron-infused French orange bitters — a very small-batch ingredient that's unavailable on the general market and handmade by general manager Curtis McMillan's pal in France. Sip like a billionaire for $100. 

    Insider Tip: Mondays are host to weekly "Tiki Nights" with rotating guest bartenders slinging exotic libations served in kitschy cups. 

    3 Appleton St.; 617-482-0117

  • Photo by: Michael Young

    The Merchant

    Why It's Hot: Office denizens pour out of high-rises and up to the bar at this just-opened American brasserie on the Downtown Crossing-Financial District borderline. Meanwhile, bartenders pour out suds from 36 taps.  

    Must-Drink: There may be a broad selection of brews, but we also fancy cocktails like the kicky Pegroni ($10), an on-the-rocks combo of orange-infused gin, Punt e Mes and Campari.

    Insider Tip: If you want to sip while you slurp, escape the office early to grab one of just four seats at the intimate raw bar near the restaurant's rear. 

    60 Franklin St.; 617-482-6060

  • Highball Lounge

    Why It's Hot: Industry types flock here not just for the creative cocktail list (skimmed by clicking through a toy View-Master), but for a playful, retro-chic vibe of board games, goofy garnishes (like a rubber ducky) and DJs spinning eclectic grooves.  

    Must-Drink: The fragrant Wallflower ($12), pictured, tastes as good as it looks thanks to a combination of Bombay Sapphire East Gin, orange vermouth, basil and lemon finished with a spritz of honey lavender essence "perfume." 

    Insider Tip: The limited but tasty menu of edibles was conceptualized by star chef Ken Oringer. Ask for the off-menu "secret burger," which boasts creative, constantly changing toppings.

    90 Tremont St.; 617-772-0202

  • Photo by: Michael Young

    State Park

    Why It's Hot: Earlier this year the team behind Hungry Mother, including 30 Under 30 honoree chef Tyler Sundet, opened this dive-bar-inspired hipster haven in a subterranean Kendall Square space. 

    Must-Drink: Pitcher drinks are a big draw here, like the Cape Codder ($35) seen here, made with Tito's Handmade Vodka, cranberry liqueur from GrandTen Distilling in South Boston and Fruitations concentrated cranberry mixer. 

    Insider Tip: Dinner and a movie, anyone? Besides the stellar menu of casual Southern fare, State Park offers reduced-price ($8) tickets to the neighboring Kendall Square Cinema. 

    1 Kendall Sq., Cambridge; 617-848-8355

  • Hopster's Brew & Boards

    Why It's Hot: Interactivity is the name of the game at this Newton brew-your-own-beer bar, where guests get to review recipes, measure out their hops and malts, and perform each step in a two-hour craft-brewing process that ultimately yields three cases of personalized suds. (You can even design your own label.) Even if you're not brewing, you can still stop in just to tip back a pint and nosh on charcuterie and pizzas. 

    Must-Drink: There are 30 recipes to choose from, and they range from $150 to $230.  

    Insider Tip: Interested in dipping your feet into the world of home brewing? Hopsters also sells supplies to get you started, from airlocks and siphoning equipment to yeasts and grains. 

    292 Centre St., Newton; 617-916-0752


Places Mentioned

Highball Lounge

Bar • Downtown

Atmo.- Decor- Service- CostM
The Merchant

American • Downtown

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
Brass Union

American • Somerville

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
Cathedral Station

Sports Bar • South End

Atmo.- Decor- Service- CostI
Wink & Nod

South End

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
Trophy Room

American • South End

Food- Decor- Service- CostM

Brewpub • Newton

Atmo.- Decor- Service- CostM
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