Restaurant Openings

First Look at Better Sorts Social Club, Opening Downtown This Week

A local bar star helms the booze at a playful-posh new cocktail lounge in the Kimpton Nine Zero Hotel.


Better Sorts Social Club opens downtown this week/Photo by Mike Diskin

Round up your favorite drinking buddies—hooligans and ruffians excepted, if you please—because the aristocratically named Better Sorts Social Club opens downtown on Thursday, October 4. It’s taking over the space in the Kimpton Nine Zero Hotel that formerly belonged to Highball Lounge, and our freshly shined monocle spies a fetching new look, a menu of inventive cocktails designed by a top-shelf Boston beverage pro, and a splay of shared plates that beckon so strongly, we may accidentally rest our elbows on the table. (Shooketh!)

Haughty humor aside, the cocktail lounge has a serious expert overseeing its drinks: Naomi Levy, acclaimed alum of Eastern Standard and fixture on the beverage industry conference and festival circuit. Levy devised unique ideas like Cacio e Pepe, a vodka martini with gouda-infused vermouth and black pepper pasta water syrup, plus seasonal selections like Lost in the SupermarketIpswich-made Privateer amber rum with butternut maple and house sassafras bitters; and Fifteen Minutes, a tincture that includes peanut-infused Basil Hayden’s bourbon, aquafaba (chickpea water), and hot pepper jelly. There’s also a curated assortment of wines, New England craft beers, and ciders.

We’re officially intrigued. Levy is good company for Better Sorts to keep.

Star bartender-designed cocktails include the Lost in the Supermarket, made with Privateer amber rum/Photo by Caitlin Cunningham

On the food front, chef Steve Hamilton is putting out New American noshes like Vermont cheddar fondue with charred Brussels sprouts; a New England shellfish cocktail (lobster, scallop, shrimp, and squid) with Meyer lemon horseradish; and portobello fries with malt vinegar aioli. Superior-sounding snacks, all.

They’ll be served in a refreshed space that caps a recent $12 million renovation of the hotel. Gone are Highball’s rec room-chic assortment of table games and LP-lined shelves. Now you’ll find more genteel trappings: American Black Walnut wood walls, European oak floors dressed up with vintage Persian rugs, Art Deco accents of crystal and brass, and sumptuous leather seating in pops of jewel tones. Your coterie can also consort in the private Gardner Room, reservable for up to 15 guests and equipped with LED flat screens and A/V hookups.

There’s wit and whimsy, too. We dig the quirky, framed portraits of woodland creatures—an owl, a buck, a wolf—attired in GQ-ready duds.

Classy cocktail lovers with a cheeky side? This is our kind of clique.

Better Sorts Social Club will serve dinner and cocktails Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 5 p.m.-midnight and Thursdays through Saturdays from 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Breakfast is served Mondays through Fridays from 6:30 a.m.-10 a.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 7 a.m.-noon.

90 Tremont St., Boston, 617-772-5834, bettersortsboston.com.

The bar at Better Sorts Social Club/Photo by Mike Diskin

Photo by Mike Diskin