Best of Boston All-Stars: What’s New at Drink
Welcome to Best of Boston All-Stars, where we revisit longtime Best of Boston favorites to find out what’s new.
Back in 2008, when Barbara Lynch opened Drink on Congress Street—with No. 9 Park bartender extraordinaire John Gertsen at the helm—the Fort Point landscape was very different. And so was Boston’s cocktail scene.
At the time, high-minded drink menus were relatively scarce around these parts, but their launch anticipated the craft-cocktail craze, and their skilled mixology improv—with an assist from the likes of such rockstar bartenders as Misty Kalkofen—helped put Boston’s craft cocktail scene on the map. As we wrote in 2009, when Drink won our award for Best Upscale Bar:
The previous generation (Eastern Standard, the sadly defunct B-Side Lounge) may have planted the seeds for a cocktail revival, but Fort Point newcomer Drink—with its house-made liqueurs and garnishes, mid-bar herb garden, and bespoke ice cubes—presents the modern imbiber’s paradise in full flower. The brilliantly designed winding bar hides the bottles and puts the bartenders front and center as they work off of their imagination, rather than preconceived menus. Everything from the custom drinks to the linen-and-mini-water-glass setup at each seat is meant to focus the patron’s attention on the matter at hand: the serious art of cocktail making.
Since then, the bar has gone on to win many more Best of Boston awards—including Best Cocktail Bar, a category that didn’t even exist before Drink started slinging its rarefied libations.
Over the years, Drink has gone through some major changes: In 2014, John Gersten decamped for the West Coast, handing over the reins to his successor, Ezra Star. But the bar is still packed, night after night—and perhaps even more so than ever, considering the throngs swarming Congress Street, whose restaurant ranks have grown to include Sportello, Menton (and its blinged-out Gold Bar), Row 34, and Tavern Road.
What’s going on at Drink these days?
First, there’s some exciting news for fans of their elusive, much-sought-after burger—Drink has started making more of them, so you might actually be able to get your hands on this previously rare commodity. “We’re not really running out anymore,” says Star, Drink’s current general manager and head bartender.
As you might expect, the seasons factor heavily into Drink’s offerings, which have recently featured the summery flavors of yellow-watermelon syrup and house-made strawberry-rosemary cordials. In addition to their ingredients, there’s also a seasonal spin to their events. While Tiki Sundays happen all year long, Drink also throws a few signature parties. In summer, there’s the annual Kentucky Derby bash, where they deck the bar in roses, screen the race, and hand out prizes for best hat and best limerick
“We do dirty limericks, because we’re a bar, and we can do whatever we want,” Star says.
On the horizon: an Oktoberfest-inspired event, which involves “a bunch of different kinds of hot dogs and sausage.” And they’ll have to work hard to outdo their last Burgers and Boilermakers, a wintertime celebration of comfort food, which most recently featured a B-movie theme.
“All of the menus were actually VHS tapes,” Star says.
Obviously, creativity’s never been an issue for Drink—and Star hints that we might even see them transcend their Fort Point stronghold with pop-up events in unexpected spaces.
“I want to see if we can start doing Drink in funny, ridiculous, weird places, like an elevator or a train.”
Drink, 348 Congress St., Boston, 617-695-1806, drinkfortpoint.com.