The Haunt: Where Everybody Knows Your Byline
The formidable metal front door leads into a well-worn room where even the midday light struggles to penetrate the windows peering out onto East Berkeley Street. There are no seats at the bar, and patrons drink their Guinnesses and Buds with one foot up on the rail. A couple of older guys read the paper while the odd reporter plies a source with beer. And the bartender, wearing the standard uniform of crisp white shirt and black tie, holds the room with a friendly but half-wary eye (the latter evidenced by the side door, known to function as an occasional ejector chute).
As the night rolls in, conversation is punctuated by the sound of glasses hitting the bar. Construction workers toss back shots next to yuppies in khakis, and reporters now ply each other with booze. Stand in the right spot and you’ll overhear political intrigue, stock tips, come-ons, and put-downs, all playing against whatever’s on the juke.
The walls at Foley’s, which turns 100 this year, mark time like the rings of a tree. There’s the sign from the old Dover T stop, and a James Michael Curley campaign poster, along with his license plate, surrounded by photos of other notable Fenians. The bar has hosted the better part of Boston’s 20th-century political tribe, along with countless cops, blue-collar guys, and reporters and editors of the Herald, who, as you might expect, got up to a lot of no good in this space over the years.
Yet discretion still rules. A few years back, a local politician wandered in to work the crowd. He was sober, but hardly anyone else was, and soon enough a young lady—a newspaper intern, no less—wrapped an arm around him and turned on the charm. It was harmless stuff (he didn’t bite), but third-generation owner Jerry Foley, whose roots in local politics run deep, appeared next to the table full of laughing journos looking on and said, calmly, "This doesn’t go in the paper." To no one’s surprise, it didn’t.
J. J. Foley’s, 117 E. Berkeley St., Boston, 617-728-9101, jjfoleyscafe.com.
We’ll Drink to That
The rising tide of classic cocktails has left a surfeit of sugary sidecars and pisco sours in its wake. The next big thing: simple highballs, which pair quality spirits with a mixer or, rarely, two. Scotch and soda, gin and tonic, rye and ginger. Our favorite is poured at Craigie on Main.
853 Main St., Cambridge, 617-497-5511, craigieonmain.com.