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Our Favorite Bars | Magazine

Our 56 favorite bars in Greater Boston and beyond

Where should we meet? This list — from rowdy sports bars and tenacious dives to tony hangouts and suburban scenes — has you covered.

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Favorite Bars contributors: Alice Barry, Kara Baskin, Patrick Garvin, Jon Gorey, Emma Goodwin, Cindy Govender, Sheryl Julian, Marie Morris, Chaitanya Murali, David Scharfenberg, Mark Shanahan, Mary Shertenlieb, Kevin Slane, and Carine Tarazi

Ever since the Mayflower ran low on “beere,” New Englanders have placed a premium on alcoholic refreshments. Boston’s 17th-century taverns have given way to fancy cocktail lairs, rowdy sports bars, and tenacious dives. Our thirsty crew ginned up this (idiosyncratic, totally subjective) list of 56 favorites.

1. Favorite Suburban Bar, North | The Baldwin & Sons Trading Co.

A smoking cocktail at The Baldwin in Woburn. Kayana Szymczak for the Boston Globe/File

Reserve well in advance for this wood-paneled library on the second floor of a butter-yellow mansion off Interstate 95. Sink into a sofa and order from proprietor Ran Duan’s latest “volume.” Drinks containing curiosities like cilantro oil and rose cream arrive in flasks, flaming swans, and smoking beakers, much to the delight of wide-eyed guests. The Sichuan food is delicious, too (get the pickled vegetables).


2 Alfred Street, Woburn, 781-935-8488, thebaldwinbar.com 

2. Favorite Bohemian Bar | The Beehive

Shabby-chic chandeliers, contemporary art on exposed-brick walls, and frilly drapes lend whimsical glamour to this capacious basement bar in the South End (a smaller space is at street level). Sample cocktails with herbal and floral twists, local craft or international beers, and flavorful food. The vibe’s mellow, the chairs comfy, the daily live music eclectic (from jazz to funk to burlesque), the volume reasonable. And there’s no cover charge.

 541 Tremont Street, Boston, 617-423-0069, beehiveboston.com

3. For History Buffs | Bell in Hand Tavern

A sign in front of Boston’s Bell in Hand Tavern. Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff/File/Globe staff

On the Freedom Trail near Faneuil Hall, the Bell in Hand calls itself America’s oldest continuously operating tavern, a claim several other bars also make. No matter — this vintage 1795 gem has many appealing features: portraits of politicians, sailors, and original patrons; live music; and an expansive selection of beers on tap.

45 Union Street, Boston, 617-227-2098, bellinhand.com 

4. Irish Pub | Brendan Behan Pub

The bohemian Behan might have been plucked off Galway’s High Street. Like Irish pubs of old, it has no TV, and there’s no kitchen, either — but the frets, flutes, and fiddles at the Saturday evening session are a feast for the ears. The bartenders pull a perfect pint of Guinness (or about 30 other choices from the impressive tap list), and you might even see a happy dog pacing the tables soliciting snoozles. Cash only.


378 Centre Street, Jamaica Plain, 617-522-5386 

5. All-Around Music Bar | The Burren

The Burren in Somerville's Davis Square. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe staff/File/Globe Staff

Founded by musicians — the husband-and-wife team of Tommy McCarthy and Louise Costello — this Irish pub in Davis Square has its roots in song. Whether you catch snippets of a free Irish or Americana session in the front pub, or a full dinner concert by one of the local and touring acts headlining the ticketed Backroom Series, you’re certain to leave with a song in your heart.

247 Elm Street, Somerville, 617-776-6896, burren.com 

6. Suburban Bar, West | Country Mile

Lovers of both Old and New World wines will find something pleasing here. Country Mile is serious about natural and organic wines; the list is constantly in motion (as is the small-plates menu) and includes a dozen by-the-glass pours. Beers, all from the Northeast, tend toward crafty IPAs; cocktails offer riffs on classics. Opened in 2018, it’s already a hangout: Locals swing over in sweats to spend time at the handsome hand-built bar.

136 Belmont Street, Watertown, 617-393-1568, countrymilefood.com 

7. Karaoke Bar | Courtside Sports Pub

The Boston area suffers from a noticeable lack of dedicated karaoke bars, and the 2015 closing of Allston’s DoReMi still stings. Easing the hurt is this East Cambridge dive, which offers karaoke Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. The bar attracts a steady stream of regulars — bring your A-game when you get on the mike.


291 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, 617-547-4374, courtsidekaraoke.com 

8. For a Fancy Burger | Craigie on Main

The cozy bar at this sophisticated Central Square restaurant serves an unrivaled burger. Two-year-old Shelburne Farms cheddar tops patties made of grass-fed shoulder, brisket, short ribs, and steak — but Craigie serves only 18 burgers a day. If you miss out, nurse your letdown with a Je t’aime (“I love you”) of rosé cava and raspberry liqueur, a Thai-basil infused gimlet, or a glass of wine from a list that balances hip and hallowed.

853 Main Street, Cambridge, 617-497-5511, craigieonmain.com 

9. Pre- or Post-Symphony Bar | Darryl’s Corner Bar & Kitchen

Darryl’s Corner Bar is a 10-minute walk from Symphony Hall. Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe

Just a 10-minute walk from Symphony Hall, and even closer to Jordan Hall and the Huntington Theatre, this South End sweet spot offers something for everyone. Before a show, perch at the companionable bar and kick things off with an inventive cocktail. Later, sample the top-notch Southern-inflected cuisine — everything from catfish tacos to shrimp and grits — and enjoy live jazz (cover $3 to $7).

604 Columbus Avenue, Boston, 617-536-1100, dcbkboston.com

10. Feel-Like-A-Local Bar | Delux Cafe

Nestled in the South End, this unassuming, welcoming bar always seems to have a seat open for the local — and the newbie who can bring something to the conversation. Cocktails and excellent burgers are served in a space decorated with vintage album covers, campy art, and plentiful Elvis memorabilia. You may leave with the urge to start (or resume) collecting vinyl. Cash only.


100 Chandler Street, Boston, 617-338-5258 

11. Politics Bar | Doyle’s Cafe

If you want to grab a drink with a lobbyist and talk insurance reform, plenty of Beacon Hill haunts will do. But if you want to soak up the history — and, yes, the grandeur — of local politics, head to JP. Stuffed with campaign posters and newspaper headlines that span the generations, from 1959’s “Collins — By 24,000: Upset Stuns Politicians” to 2013’s “It’s Mayor-elect Walsh,” Doyle’s is the genuine article. Good beer list, too.

3484 Washington Street, Jamaica Plain, 617-524-2345, doylescafeboston.com 

12. Romantic Bar | The Druid

Sure, this Inman Square spot is an Irish pub, but its ambiance and clever cocktails set it apart. It’s small and quiet enough that you can have a soul-baring conversation over a textbook Dark and Stormy. You’ll be seduced by the dim pink lighting, deep-red walls, and ghostlike artwork floating above.

1357 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, 617-497-0965, druidpub.com 

13. Celebrity Magnet | Empire Asian Restaurant & Lounge

A quintessential see-and-be-seen destination, Empire draws patrons who throw on their sleekest outfits in hopes of rubbing elbows with the rich and famous. The Seaport hot spot has recently hosted LeBron James and Rajon Rondo, Daymond John of Shark Tank, Aerosmith’s Joey Kramer, and a number of former stars of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette.

1 Marina Park Drive, Boston, 617-295-0001, empireboston.com 

14. Bar for a Breakup | Fool’s Errand

Fool’s Errand owner Tiffani Faison.Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe/File

Drinking at this tiny bar in the Fenway is like attending a madcap cocktail party thrown by an eccentric grandmother — unusual finger sandwiches (smoked beef tongue topped with Lay’s chips), antique tableware, gaudy chandeliers, and French country wallpaper. An admirable roster of fortified wines, local ciders, sherry, and Amari enhances the experience. Best of all? It’s standing room only, which means you can break up and break away with minimal drama.


1377 Boylston Street, Boston, foolserrandboston.com

15. Sports Bar | The Fours

Long before “Do Your Job” became a New England sports mantra, this West End institution was demonstrating the power of staying in your lane. If an important sporting event is happening, it’s on one or (usually) more of the dozens of TVs at The Fours, a long slap shot from the TD Garden. The beer is cold, the food tasty, and the bartenders friendly and knowledgeable — that’s their job.

166 Canal Street, Boston, 617-720-4455, thefours.com 

16. Wine Bar | Haley.Henry

Haley.Henry in Downtown Crossing. Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe

Servers at this sliver of a spot in Downtown Crossing listen patiently when you tell them what kind of wine you like and pour samples till they nail it. If you’re willing to buy two glasses from a single bottle — not that hard — they’ll open it especially for you and charge you for half a bottle (cheaper than buying by the glass). The fine, expensive stemware feels regal. It’s all so smart.

45 Province Street, Boston, 617-208-6000, haleyhenry.com

17. Place to Get Your Kilt On | The Haven

You can’t pass this cozy Scottish pub in Jamaica Plain without wanting to stop in for a wee dram. Imported scotch and ale, paintings of woolly sheep, a homey neighborhood atmosphere, and occasional live music combine to make this one of the warmest, merriest spots in Boston. The Haven hosts whiskey-themed events throughout the year, an unforgettable Hogmanay on New Year’s Eve, and Robert Burns Night on the poet’s birthday, January 25.

2 Perkins Street, Jamaica Plain, 617-524-2836, thehavenjp.com 

18. Suburban Bar, South | Idle Hour

Like the mid-century period it evokes, there’s something inherently optimistic about this cocktail bar in Quincy Center, itself in a state of ambitious renewal. Dramatic light fixtures and contoured bar stools create an atmosphere of classy, comfortable retro whimsy. The menu of creative bar bites, local draft beers, and carefully crafted cocktails is in a constant state of seasonal rebirth, and the hand-crafted teak bar is peppered with bitters and other mixologist miscellany.

1464 Hancock Street, Quincy, 617-845-5711, idlehourquincy.com 

19. Fancy Former Dive Bar | J.J. Foley’s Cafe

Established in 1909, the original Foley’s has evolved with the South End. The fourth-generation family business remains a reliable purveyor of strong drinks in an Irish pub atmosphere — and serves Sunday brunch in the dining room, which opened in 2007. Courtly bartenders in white shirts, businesslike ties, and crisp aprons preside, purring “time, please” rather than “last call.”

117 East Berkeley Street, Boston, 617-728-9101, jjfoleyscafe.com 

20. Drag Bar | Jacques Cabaret

With its pool table and dim lights, this Bay Village hideaway feels like a classic dive bar. What separates Jacques from your townie uncle’s favorite haunt is the frequent drag performances. Friday and Saturday night “Miss-Leading Ladies” shows are popular with bachelorette parties — and with people who want to see bachelorettes pulled onstage to answer questions unprintable in a family newspaper. Cash only.

79 Broadway, Boston, 617-426-8902, jacques-cabaret.com 

21. Soccer Bar | The Kinsale

Tottenham Hotspur Football Club fans visit this Government Center Irish pub twice a week to watch games, drink, and swear at referees. Supporters of other teams and leagues come, too: the Kinsale frequently devotes most of its 12 screens to soccer and serves event-specific drinks, such as Carlsberg for Premier League matches. Need a timeout? Admire the bar’s beautiful carved-wood interior and catch live Irish music.

2 Center Plaza, Boston, 617-742-5577, classicirish.com 

22. Bar With a View (Outdoor) | Lookout Rooftop

During the cold weather, patrons at Lookout Rooftop sit inside heated plastic “igloos.”Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe/File

An Instagram magnet since it opened in 2015, this elegant lounge sits seven stories above the Seaport. The indoor/outdoor space attracts a young, lively crowd with dazzling views of the downtown skyline, Fort Point Channel, and the harbor. The new Harbor Lounge section takes reservations; otherwise, it’s first come, first served. In winter, seating is in heated plastic “igloos.” Opens for the summer May 3.

In The Envoy Hotel, 70 Sleeper Street, Boston, 617-530-1538, outlookkitchenandbar.com 

23. Nerd Bar | Miracle of Science

On the edge of Central Square, Miracle of Science is heavily influenced by the nearby MIT campus. A bar that seats patrons on lab stools and displays chalkboard menus designed to look like the periodic table has no business being this hip.

321 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, 617-868-ATOM, miracleofscience.us 

24. Dive Bar | Model Cafe

Surrounded by overpriced, interchangeable bars, Allston’s 86-year-old Model Cafe is a diamond — albeit a rough one. Cheap drinks and dancing to an eclectic mix of oldies and ’90s pop draw lots of locals and college students. Just don’t wait too long to go: Fridays and Saturdays, that universal appeal means the line stretches down the block. Cash only.

7 North Beacon Street, Allston, 617-254-9365 

25. Neighborhood Sports Bar | Parlor Sports

If you’re looking to catch a game with hundreds of screaming, red-faced Patriots fans, look elsewhere. A visit to this Inman Square spot is like watching a game in your living room — if your living room were packed to the gills with 40 wisecracking friends. We’re willing to bet your living room doesn’t have a dozen TVs and 20-plus beers to choose from, though.

1 Beacon Street, Somerville, 617-576-0231, parlorsportsbar.com 

26. Hotbed of Propaganda | The People’s Republik

We can’t quite put our finger on it, but a Russian Communist-themed bar with red walls, deactivated bombs, and a pickle-back shot named for Vladimir Putin somehow feels of-the-moment. A terrific spot for a date, this kitschy place on the outskirts of Central Square serves classic cocktails and dozens of beers on tap under the watchful eyes of Lenin and Che.

876-878 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, 617-491-6969, peoplesrepublik.com 

27. Favorite Speak-Easy | Saloon

It’s easy to miss this basement-level Davis Square establishment, which only recently added an embossed lamp indicating its presence to passersby. The atmosphere is distinctly pre-Prohibition, with suspender-wearing bartenders pouring a wide range of whiskeys and shaking up delectable cocktails.

255 Elm Street, Somerville, 617-628-4444, saloondavis.com 

28. Weekday Afternoon Bar | Shays Pub & Wine Bar

On a chilly winter day in Harvard Square, the appeal was immediate. Dark and grotto-like, the bar was empty except for a guy in a corduroy jacket reading a newspaper. David Bowie’s Pin Ups was playing. The beer selection isn’t infinite, but it’s more than satisfactory. Cheeseburgers arrive with hand-cut fries. Shays is cozy, unpretentious, and tasty. We’re smitten.

58 John F. Kennedy Street, Cambridge, 617-864-9161, shayspubwinebar.com 

29. Tiki Bar | Shore Leave

Tropical drinks at Shore Leave.Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe

The South End transforms into World War II-era Polynesia at newcomer Shore Leave, which focuses on potent tropical drinks and Pacific Rim cuisine. Flaming tiki torches, jungle wallpaper, and a bamboo bar fuel the vacation vibe. Nestle into a shadowy banquette and suck down a daiquiri layered with mole bitters or gin mixed with coffee, ginger, and honey, poured over crushed ice.

11 William E. Mullins Way, Boston, 617-530-1775, shoreleaveboston.com

30-32. Whiskey Lovers’ Bar | The Smoke Shop BBQ

Smoke Shop BBQ’s location in Kendall Square, Cambridge. Globe staff/File/Globe Staff

Whiskey-snob wannabes, start here. The Smoke Shop doesn’t use the word “shot” because it implies gulping rather than sipping. With locations in the Seaport, Cambridge, and Somerville, it stocks familiar as well as rare and pricey whiskeys, mostly American made. On the rocks is the most popular option here, but a straight pour with a few drops of water is gaining. While you wait for ribs, brisket, and pulled pork, try a rye Old-Fashioned.

343 Congress Street, Boston, 617-261-7427; 1 Kendall Square, Cambridge, 617-577-7427; 325 Assembly Row, Somerville, 617-623-7427; thesmokeshopbbq.com

33. For a Blind Date | Sonsie

Sonsie offers a view of Newbury Street. Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe/File

The sightlines at this right-sized Back Bay stalwart (it opened in 1993) are relatively clear, making it easier to avoid that uncomfortable search for your blind date. With a fabulous Newbury Street view, it’s a great place to chat with someone new and people-watch — a superb icebreaker. And even if the date’s a dud, you won’t be disappointed by the warm ambience, award-winning wine list, and provocative French fare.

327 Newbury Street, Boston, 617-351-2500, sonsieboston.com

34. Neighborhood Wine Bar | Spoke Wine Bar

A Davis Square fixture, Spoke looks and feels like a neighborhood haunt, but each of its 40 seats is a magnet for lovers of small-production, naturalist wines from all over. The place is rife with attitude — all of it cheery and congenial. The tiny kitchen kicks out a stream of vividly flavorful dishes uncannily attuned to what’s on offer at the bar. And wine director Liz Mann knows every wine as if she made it herself.

89 Holland Street, Somerville, 617-718-9463, spokewinebar.com 

35. Theatre District Bar | The Tam

The Tam in Boston’s Theatre District. David L Ryan/Globe Staff/File/Globe Staff

Getting fancy for a night at the theater is always fun, and if you want to offset the cost of show tickets, The Tam is your best bet for a cheap drink — and a vending-machine snack — before curtain time. Bonus: The dive bar is popular with students from nearby Emerson College, so you may be pregaming alongside a future star of the stage. Cash only.

222 Tremont Street, Boston

36. Bar With Free Music | Toad

Life offers few certainties, which makes this eternal fountain of reliably good live music in Porter Square so special. Toad is comically small; performers spill off the tiny stage into the audience, and a trip to the restroom might entail dodging a trombone slide. Still, the crowd is warm and lively, the prices are reasonable, and the music flows nightly without a cover charge. Arrive early to get a seat.

1912 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, toadcambridge.com 

37. Favorite Baseball Bar | Tony C’s Sports Bar & Grill

Fans celebrate following the Red Sox World Series victory in 2018.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe staff/File/Globe Staff

Named for 1960s Red Sox legend Tony Conigliaro, this sprawling establishment overlooking Fenway Park is the place to be before and after home games (or during, with 40 huge TVs and a solid menu). Tables still fill up fast, but with its cavernous interior and 150-seat roof deck, the Fenway location of the local chain absorbs the swollen tides of pre- and postgame fans better than most other bars in the area.

1265 Boylston Street, Boston, 617-236-7369, tonycssportsbar.com 

38. Bar With a View (Indoor) | Top of the Hub Lounge

Think twice before you write off this 52nd-floor Back Bay landmark as touristy. Yes, people from everywhere except Massachusetts come here to marvel at the million-dollar views. They find wine, beer, and spirits selections that are as globetrotting as the clientele and surprisingly fairly priced, all things considered — those are million-dollar views, folks. $24/person minimum at tables after 8 p.m.

Prudential Tower, Boston, 617-536-1775, topofthehub.net 

39. Industry-Pro brunch bar | Trina’s Starlite Lounge

While hospitality workers prepare and serve your Sunday brunch, they miss out on their own weekend fun. The notorious Monday brunch at Trina’s Starlite Lounge in Inman Square helps them make up for it. Delicious fried chicken and waffles and the Somerville Speedball, an espresso-infused martini, are exactly what you need to wake up on Monday (or Sunday, for “civilians”).

3 Beacon Street, Somerville, 617-576-0006, trinastarlitelounge.com

40. Bar for a Laugh | Variety Bar

You won’t find obscure ingredients or rare beers here, but you will get warm service in a prime location, adjacent to the Comedy Studio in Somerville’s Union Square. Browse board games, pop into a photo booth, and slurp a scorpion bowl before the show. Tip: When neighboring Remnant Brewing and Rebel Rebel are packed, roomier Variety Bar delivers drinks without the hassle.

1 Bow Market Way #23, Somerville, 617-661-6507, thecomedystudio.com 

41. Kid-Friendly Bar | Versus

Versus features old-school arcade games. From Versus

Ms. Pac-Man and Donkey Kong are two of the many old-school video games at this lively Downtown Crossing arcade bar, a delightful place for Gen X parents to show their kids what growing up in the ‘80s was like. Against a backdrop of bright pop-art murals, Versus also has pinball machines and Skee-Ball lanes. With unlimited games for only $5 and cheeseburgers served in retro lunch boxes, this hangout is a kid’s dream.

42 Province Street, Boston, 617-482-1213, versusboston.com

42. Jazz Bar | Wally’s Café

Wally’s Cafe in the South End. Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe

Behind the crimson door of a nondescript South End brownstone lies this intimate jazz haven, opened in 1947 by Joseph “Wally” Walcott and still run by his family. Spirited early-evening jam sessions — usually with performers from nearby music schools — segue into late sets daily. You might have to stand, but your toes will sure be tapping. No cover charge; one-drink minimum (try a Wally’s Paradise: coconut rum, piña colada and strawberry daiquiri mixes, and Chambord).

427 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, 617-424-1408, wallyscafe.com

43. 18th-Century Watering Hole | Warren Tavern

All too often, places that look like the Warren Tavern — low beamed ceilings, half-paneled walls, historic photos and art — got that way in a corporate office. This is the genuine article. In a creaky building that has held down its Charlestown corner since 1780, it extends a warm welcome to denizens of the ever-changing neighborhood and a steady stream of out-of-towners.

 2 Pleasant Street, Charlestown, 617-241-8142, warrentavern.com

44. Bar for a First Date | Wit’s End

Head to Inman Square to dodge the awkward first date. With trivia books at every table, plenty of board games, nights devoted to trivia and debate, and pop culture decor like Entertainment Weekly wallpaper, Wit’s End makes finding something to talk about easy. You can bond over the pun-riddled menu of delicious celebrity-themed drinks: Where else might Danny Trejo cross paths with Elizabeth Taylor? Discuss.

1248 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, 857-259-6168, witsendbar.com 

45. Bar With a Secret Room | Yvonne’s

Yvonne’s has a concealed entrance to a secret underground bar. Erik Jacobs for the Boston Globe/File

In this swanky library lounge in Downtown Crossing, tackle oversize, shareable cocktails beneath amusing portraits of Bill Murray and Christopher Walken in military regalia. Then head to the back of the room, where what appears to be a set of bookshelves is actually a concealed entrance to a secret underground bar. The hideaway recently gained an art gallery that books rotating installations.

2 Winter Place, Boston, 617-267-0047, yvonnesboston.com


A tea-totaler old fashioned at the Better Sorts Social Club. From the Better Sorts Social Club

Whatever your reason for turning down a drink, you won’t miss the alcohol in these lively libations.

Whether you’re abstaining for life, for nine months, or for a single night, you don’t have to settle for a Diet Coke and lemon wedge. The popularity of creative mocktails is on the rise, according to Kimpton’s 2019 Culinary + Cocktail Trend Forecast, and a growing number of area bars apparently got the memo. Naomi Levy, head bartender at Better Sorts Social Club in downtown Boston, says bars typically offer punch-like mocktails, but she aims for variety, including some options that mimic the taste of alcohol.

Here are four of our favorite zero-proof concoctions at bars around town. —Jackie Kolgraf

46. Blueberry & Vanilla Agua Fresca at Citrus & Salt

Look past the tequila and mezcal offerings at this Mexican spot in the Back Bay and check out the rotating selection of nonalcoholic agua frescas. Blueberry & Vanilla ($5) pairs fresh blueberry purée with house-made vanilla simple syrup, soda, mint leaves, and lime juice — a perfect complement to smoked chicken enchiladas.

142 Berkeley Street, Boston, 833-324-8787, citrusandsaltboston.com

47-48. Abigail’s Delight at Island Creek Oyster Bar

The menu at Island Creek Oyster Bar, in Kenmore Square and Burlington, proclaims that sugar cane (i.e., rum) is “the sailor’s right and joy,” but landlubbers won’t go thirsty. Try Abigail’s Delight ($6) to experience the unusual marzipan flavor of house-made orgeat syrup, combined with pineapple juice.

500 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, 617-532-5300; 300 District Avenue, Burlington, 781-761-6500; islandcreekoysterbar.com

49-50. Coco Loco Limeade at Burro Bar

Burro Bar, in the South End and Washington Square, is known for its lengthy tequila list. For tropical flavor sans booze, the refreshing Coco Loco Limeade ($4), with coconut water, coconut cream, and fresh-squeezed lime juice, does the trick.

1357 Washington Street, Boston, 617-426-9300; 1665 Beacon Street, Brookline, 617-277-0427; burrobarboston.com

51. Tea-Totaler Old Fashioned at Better Sorts Social Club

This highbrow addition to Boston’s downtown night-life scene bills itself as a “bespoke cocktail bar.” In the Tea-Totaler Old Fashioned ($10), malt syrup and two kinds of bitters join black tea that’s “oversteeped” to bring out the tannins.

In the Kimpton Nine Zero Hotel, 90 Tremont Street, Boston, 617-772-5834, bettersortsboston.com


Skee-Ball is one of the games customers can play at A4cade in Cambridge. Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe/File

Scorpion bowls and yards of ale are so last century. Board games and other distractions are drawing cards at some of our favorite offbeat watering holes.

52. Adventure Pub

This soaring space in a former bank is home to more than 400 board games. Pick your favorite while munching not-quite-pub fare — roasted vegetables, pear hand pies. If you prefer to keep your focus while facing off, sip tamarind or cucumber juice.

190 Massachusetts Avenue, Arlington, 781-777-2623, theadventurepub.com

53. A4cade

What looks like just a branch of Roxy’s Grilled Cheese is also a portal to a magical world filled with arcade games and booze served in retro glasses. Enter this 21-plus Central Square bar (pronounced “a-four-cade”) at the back of Roxy’s.

292 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, 617-714-3960, a4cade.com

54. The Bleacher Bar

This sports bar has two gimmicks. The good one is that it’s under the Fenway Park bleachers. The great one is that it has a view of the field from both a section of tables and the men’s room.

82A Lansdowne Street, Boston, 857-262-2424, bleacherbarboston.com

55. The Ghost Walks

At this Theatre District “restobar,” pop some bubbly from a champagne vending machine. If that’s not theatrical enough, try the The Box Office, a bourbon cocktail topped with popcorn and served in a red-and-white-striped popcorn box.

57 Stuart Street, Boston, 857-263-8932, tgwboston.com

56. Urban Axes

When the urge to throw sharp, heavy objects strikes and the Maine woods are just too far, head to Somerville’s Union Square to get your inner lumberjack on. After nailing a bull’s-eye, enjoy drinks from Night Shift and other local breweries.

2 Union Square, Somerville, 857-997-0025, urbanaxes.com

Did your favorite make the list? Tell us about your favorite in the online comments section.

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