If you go: Boston
The unpretentiousness is also unmistakable at the bar, where paintbrushes, blackened Middle Eastern limes and blowtorches are just a few of the objects not commonly found beside shakers and strainers. Todd Maul, the bar manager, explained my next drink.
“We take Mayflower Porter and stick-blend it in an immersion blender with yellow beets and pink peppercorns, then spin it out in a centrifuge to give it the feel of an amaro. You just get the coffee and hoppy and chocolate notes of the porter,” he explained as offhandedly as if he were giving directions to the restrooms. “Then it’s cut with Carpano vermouth. I didn’t want it to be too heavy, so I used Canadian whiskey to lighten it up. Instead of using beer as the forward part of it, I wanted the beer notes.”
The burgundy-colored drink was baffling in the way that string theory or the Sistine Chapel are baffling. All I could do was marvel at this manmade thing of beauty. That was when Maul told me that chemistry students from MIT, a stone’s throw away across the Charles River, have told him that they’re impressed with his centrifuge, a device more commonly found in medical labs.
When it comes to drinking in Boston, the options have long fit the stereotypes. In the beating heart of Red Sox Nation, you have an excess of sports bars. And if there’s a game on, you’d better believe that even higher-end bistros will have televisions playing to rapt imbibers at the bar. And as a historically Irish city, it probably boasts as many pubs as biotech labs.
But over the past years, the nefarious mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger has been caught, the “Big Dig” has been concealed by a welcoming greenway, and gleaming condos have been sprouting where punk-rock-era dive bars once reigned supreme. It has also become much easier to find bartenders who can wax esoteric about their drinks. Yes, this craze coincides with the cocktail renaissance that has emerged in major cities internationally, but in Boston, it’s a delicious affirmation of a reinvigorated city stripped of many of its stereotypes.
One thing that’s still guaranteed, however, is the flood of tourists every March. This month, the Guinness flow can probably be measured by river lengths; jaunty fiddle tunes and the Dropkick Murphys’ “I’m Shipping up to Boston” play with the ubiquity of samba in Rio during Carnival. But for discerning drinkers, the true pots of gold are nowhere near the crowded Ye Olde Irish pubs.