Whether you prefer brews, bubbles, wines, or whiskeys, there’s a bar for you in the City on a Hill. After all, Cheers was set in Boston for a reason.
An industrial-chic spot in Back Bay boasts one of the country’s largest Greek wine lists. Craft cocktails and a quirky Oz-like scene entice revelers at a Beacon Hill lounge. In Downtown Crossing, a late-night stalwart is all about local draft beers and classic burgers.
In Back Bay and beyond, there’s something here to quench everyone’s thirst. Read on for a guide to 12 top Boston bars where you can grab a drink right now.
The Bowery Bar (Dorchester)
There are almost as many seats at the bar as there are rotating draft beers at the Bowery Bar. This local favorite in Dorchester’s Lower Mills neighborhood is perhaps most famous for its winning outdoor dining space, with tables, lounge couches, and seating at an open-air bar. But the vast whiskey program here is also noteworthy. The wine list showcases varieties meant to complement executive chef Dan Davis’s seasonally rotating menu (blackened fish tacos, spicy southern fried chicken with hot honey sauce, street corn arancini, and more), while the bar team whips up its own syrups and handmade juices for the cocktails.
Krasi (Back Bay)
Despite its intimate interiors, Krasi boasts one of the largest Greek wine lists in America, thanks to sommelier and wine director Evan Turner, who lived in Thessaloniki as a teen. Diners will find varieties from Liatiko to Savatiano, with a selection that showcases bottles from protected destination of origin areas, along with rare grapes. Cocktail lovers will want to devote extra time to visit Hecate, the 24-seat European-style cocktail bar just below Krasi that features wines, beers, and signature drinks.
Brassica Kitchen (Jamaica Plain)
Hop on the Orange Line and make your way to this laidback restaurant and cafe for a carefully curated international wine list. The vino pairs well with a chef’s choice tasting experience, drummed up by co-chefs Jeremy Kean and Philip Kruta (formerly of Boston favorites No. 9 Park and L’Espalier, respectively). Though the two have a fine-dining foundation, Brassica offers a more easygoing experience with creative locally sourced fare (pork belly with sambal and buttered marshmallow and grilled mushrooms with green curry sauce and Spanish rice, for example) and cocktails. The drinks menu often changes, but staples include the spicy and floral All Power, (featuring cachaça, chile liqueur, grapefruit, and violet liqueur) and the Gray Gardens (a blend of mezcal, lavender, elderflower, orange blossom, and lime).
jm Curley (Downtown Crossing)
If you’re craving a beer and burger, look no further than jm Curley, one of the city’s few late-night bastions of brews and bites—the kitchen is open until 1:30 am daily. While the pub vibe—exposed brick, a concrete bar top, and original wooden floors—is classic Boston, what’s on draft is always fresh and funky. The selection of local draft beers flowing from ten taps varies by season, as do fun cocktails by bar manager Oscar Simoza. He’s shaking things up with drinks such a habanero honey-kissed tequila cocktail, and an espresso martini that will have night owls up until the sun rises.
Citrus & Salt (Back Bay)
Citrus & Salt is an explosion of colors and flavors, which will surprise no one familiar with chef-owner Jason Santos. The blue-haired chef and Bar Rescue regular knows a thing or two about successful hospitality ventures, and this Back Bay favorite brings a bit of the Baja Peninsula to blustery Boston. Citrus & Salt is synonymous with tequila cocktails, featuring fruity and frozen libations such as the Yuzu Cute, which features rum, yuzu-lime bubbles, guava, and mint. Those in the mood for a party can order one of the larger drinks, which serve up to six. The restaurant also serves non-alcoholic options such as Fruity Pebble Ice Tea and a zero-proof strawberry piña colada
Roxanne’s (Beacon Hill)
Beacon Hill is notoriously staid, but you wouldn’t know it stepping into Roxanne’s. Despite being just a stone’s throw from the State House, the lounge has a playful Oz-like vibe with vibrantly patterned wallpaper, textured banquettes, and a back-lit bar that makes the liquor bottles glitter. The focus is on craft cocktails with a menu that’s a passport stamper—rum from the Caribbean, tequilas evoking Mexico, and the aptly named In Tokyo, featuring vodka, matcha, vanilla, and fresh cream. Wines and rotating local draft and bottled beers round out the drinks menu. While Roxanne’s is more of a drink-first-eat-second spot, there’s an excellent selection of sharable bar snacks, including a standout house burger.
The Haven (Jamaica Plain)
Boston is renowned for its Irish heritage and pubs. But the Haven stands out for being the city’s only Scottish bar and restaurant—and an ideal spot to watch Premier League Football. The Haven’s menu is all about Old Word-inspired specialties such as Scotch eggs, haggis ravioli, and Scottish salmon. To wash it all down, there’s a robust list of independent and top-shelf whiskeys, which diners can learn more about during Thursday DRAMnights with owner Jason Waddleton (and a rotating selection of liquor educators). If you’re not into the hard stuff, the Haven also carries a robust selection of Scottish beers on tap, ideal for weekly comedy night toasts, dance nights with live DJs, and trivia evenings.
Troquet on South (Leather District)
The dining room and menu at Troquet on South evoke a Parisian bistro, so it’s no surprise that the drinks follow suit. Bubbles lovers can rejoice, thanks to a hearty selection of by-the-glass Champagnes. Owner Chris Campbell is also the lead sommelier, and oversees what he’s dubbed “the grain and grape experience,” encouraging guests to pull up a barstool and stay awhile. Troquet’s extensive wine list includes varietals from France, where Campbell lived for almost three years.
Hue (Back Bay)
Hue has quickly become one of the city’s must-visit haunts for cocktail connoisseurs since opening in spring 2023. There’s dinner and a show here in more ways than one, as bartenders stir up foamy and smoky cocktails across the three separate concepts that include the airy Rose Bar, an intimate supper club, and a secluded speakeasy with nightly music. Locally themed drinks, such as the Tea Party (vodka, elderflower liqueur, sake, and raspberry tea) or the Huntington (vodka, sake, cucumber juice, and ginger syrup) are on offer alongside globally accented plates such as Szechuan pepper rock shrimp and steak frites.
Carrie Nation (Beacon Hill)
Although Carrie Nation is one of the few places in Boston that offers wine by the carafe—a happy medium between a glass and bottle—there’s nothing middling about this sexy speakeasy. A visit here is like stepping back in time, which makes a signature old fashioned a logical choice. Beyond that, there’s an indulgence for every taste, including a refreshing southern mint tea with bourbon, lemon, honey, and iced tea. Don’t miss the pool tables, nestled in the back.
Award-winning chef and restaurateur Michael Scelfo gives Boston foodies serious bragging rights, thanks in no small part to this iconic bar. Nestled on top of Alden and Harlow, his Harvard Square dining institution, the Longfellow features elegant bar bites meant for sharing and pairing. The cocktail list is as stunning as the bar’s cathedral ceilings and Carrara marble bar top. Standouts include rum-based drinks such as the Control, with corn liqueur, smoked pineapple, and lemon.
Banyan Bar + Refuge (South End)
Happy hours featuring alcohol specials aren’t allowed in Massachusetts, but bars and restaurants get around that with inexpensive snacks just before the dinner rush. At Banyan Bar + Refuge, the discounted dumplings and spring rolls (from 4 pm to 6 pm nightly) are just one reason to visit. The others include a mighty cocktail list: Bartenders perk up spirits such as vodka with Thai chiles for the coconut water and lime-infused Supreme Leader and make standout mocktails including the lemongrass, lime, and ginger-forward Malaysian Mule. Decor features birch wood trunks and massive branch lighting fixtures—a homage to the bar’s namesake trees. While Banyan’s interior is a cozy cold-weather escape, its expansive patio is one of the South End’s most sought-after spots in the summer months.
Tried them all? Check out other options here.
Carley Thornell-Wade is a Boston-based food, travel, and technology writer who’s been to more than 70 countries and delighted in tasting the regional delicacies of each.