Best of Boston All-Stars: What’s New at No. 9 Park

After 17 years on Beacon Hill, this beloved restaurant with the top-notch wine list—and launchpad for Boston's craft cocktail explosion—keeps experimenting.

Welcome to Best of Boston All-Stars, a series that takes a closer look at what’s new at longtime Best of Boston favorites.

No. 9 Park exterior

No. 9 Park exterior / Courtesy photo

Over the years, Barbara Lynch has become synonymous with fine dining, and No. 9 Park is the place where it all began. This beloved Beacon Hill restaurant launched in 1998, and we’ve been singing its praises for food, drinks, and service for more than a decade now.

In 2011, No. 9 Park won our award for General Excellence, and it’s certainly showed plenty of range over the years—from artfully crafted desserts to top-notch power lunches (with earlier hours during holiday season, starting November 30). And while big spenders are welcome, a night here doesn’t have to break the bank, if you opt for the bar menu, where Lynch experiments with “more gently priced (but no less divine) fare.”

Don’t forget date nights. When they won our Best Romantic Restaurant title in 2011, we noted the venue’s magical abilities to make dates “infinitely more attractive,” whether it’s from “the anticipation of an unforgettable meal, the warm reception proffered at the host stand, or maybe just the impact of that briskly shaken craft cocktail in your hand.”

In fact, those libations have done more for Boston than enhance an evening of romance—Lynch’s restaurants and her expert mixologist John Gertsen ushered in the era of the craft cocktail in Boston, starting with No. 9 Park before spreading to Drink in Fort Point and the rest of the Gruppo empire. Back in 2003, when drinks menus were still rife with appletinis, we saluted No. 9 for its Palmyra cocktail, a drink “rumored to have been inspired by Prohibition-era brews.”

No. 9 Park cocktail

No. 9 Park cocktail / Courtesy photo

Their drinks prowess isn’t limited to the cocktails, however: No. 9 Park has a rep for curating some of the finest wines in the city. In 2004, we recognized expert sommelier Cat Silirie as the Hub’s best, a title which she would go on to win twice more, owing to her passion, knowledge, and expansive wine list—which we awarded wins for in 2002, and again in 2012. Moreover, she’s been known to give the waitstaff tastings, quizzes and homework, effectively creating “a service staff of ‘total sommeliers.’”

With so much applause, it’d be easy for No. 9 Park to rest on their laurels. But general manager Lauren Adams speaks to their commitment to pushing forward “in our desire to be extraordinary.”

For example, though best known for its wine and cocktails, the restaurant is renewing a focus on beer. Earlier this year, they partnered with Night Shift Brewing for a special four-course lunch with beer pairings. “We’re known for our great wine list and exceptional wine pairings, so it was exciting to show folks that we take cues from…Silirie—who won a James Beard award in 2012—and extend this ethos to our beer program,” Adams explains.

Not content to simply drink cocktails? You’re in luck: Every month, bar manager Ryan Lotz hosts a popular monthly cocktail class. “It’s incredible to swing open the doors in the middle of the day and offer folks a fun way to learn something new while interacting with No. 9 Park in a new way,” Lotz says. Coming up in November: “Cocktails in History,” in which bartender Jenna Rycroft teaches you how to make drinks that “represent the progression of cocktail history.”

Between its notable part in launching Boston’s craft cocktail craze and its continued commitment to fine dining, No. 9 Park has solidified a place for itself in Boston restaurant history: “At some point it feels like we’ve become a part of the fabric of the city, as if we have an obligation to the community to keep doing what we do,” says Adams.

“We just love that cocktail enthusiasts of all ages will stop by after work because they know that we’re a destination for a well-made drink in a warm and welcoming environment,” she adds. “It’s an incredible feeling to see new and familiar faces every night, knowing that our dining room and bar have been bustling for 17 years and are still going strong.”

No. 9 Park, 9 Park St., Boston, 617-742-9991,