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7 Nostalgia-Inducing Classic Cocktails to Try in Boston

Boston bartenders go back to basics, crafting some serious, stiff drinks

Don’t call it a comeback. Classic cocktails have never gone the way of tan M&Ms and yet, after years of sugary, neon-hued drinks running rampant in bars across America, we’re ready to dial it back to basics.

The Cocktail: Negroni

Gin, Campari, and vermouth make up a traditional Negroni and when balanced correctly hits every note on the tongue. For its Pu’er Tea-Soaked Negroni, Tavern Road beverage manager and stellar bartender Tenzin Samdo steeps a blend of red tea in the above mentioned liquids to give this Negroni a unique, but classic twist. Shout out to the giant cube of ice that the drink is served over.

Where to order it: Tavern Road

Tavern Road's Negroni
Tavern Road's Negroni (Courtesy Tavern Road)

The Cocktail: Daiquiri

Erase the image of a half-melted, overly sweet, electric-colored cocktail that comes to mind when daiquiri is mentioned and instead try the Hong Kong Daiquiri on tap (yes, on tap) at Banyan Bar & Refuge in the South End. A blend of white and dark rum with lime, simple syrup, and a splash of baijiu (a Chinese grain alcohol) make for a full bodied, yet enjoyable cocktail. Daiquiris are no more just a spring break beverage.

Where to order it: Banyan Bar & Refuge

The Cocktail: Martini

What could be be better than crisp gin, a swirl of vermouth and a blue cheese-stuffed olive? Grill 23 takes a simple and satisfying approach to the Martini: Don’t mess with a classic that’s been "the" drink for nearly 100 years. Note that these martinis are lightly shaken and really cold. Just as it should be.

Where to order it: Grill 23

The Cocktail: Old Fashioned

Reserve all judgment based on this drink’s name. Bar Boulud’s Popcorn Old Fashioned at the Mandarin Oriental is fantastic. Bourbon infused with popcorn gives it that signature nutty—and slightly burned—flavor profile we love about popcorn. For Old Fashioned newbies, this is a great introduction to a classic beverage. Plus, the presentation is very Insta-worthy.

Where to order it: Bar Boulud

Bar Boulud's popcorn old-fashioned, Mandarin Oriental, Boston
Bar Boulud's popcorn old-fashioned (Courtesy Bar Boulud)

The Cocktail: Manhattan

Behind the bar at Townsman you’ll find Silas Axtell, one of the best bartenders in Boston, for classic beverages with a twist. Simply order ‘The Manhattan’ and Silas will mix up one with precise balance. Served straight up with a Luxardo cherry for garnish, it is perfection.

Where to order it: Townsman

The Cocktail: Gypsy

The general consensus among locals is that Yvonne’s serves some of the best drinks in Boston—coincidence that it’s serving drinks in Boston’s iconic former Locke-Ober, birthplace to such now-legendary cocktails as the Ward 8? Yvonne’s bar manager Nicole Lebedevitch creates a killer Gypsy Queen, her Bénédictine-laced, lemon-twisted take on the classic Gypsy, one of the first vodka cocktails created after Prohibition.

Where to order it: Yvonne's

The Cocktail: Jack Rose

Mixologist Jackson Cannon of Eastern Standard and The Hawthorne is noted among local cocktail connoisseurs for his Jack Rose, one of his own favorite classic drinks. Hemingway famously featured it in “The Sun Also Rises.” Cannon serves it with Laird’s Bonded Applejack, grenadine, lemon and Peychaud’s Bitters.

Where to order it: The Hawthorne