It’s Month Four of pandemic-related disruptions to life in Boston, and though my at-home cocktail recipe repertoire has leveled up a little bit—I bought a bottle of tequila, so now I occasionally make three-ingredient margaritas as well as classic daiquiris—I still miss our local bars so very much.
It’s not just about the booze—I miss tasting the creative ways that bartenders use infused spirits and syrups, textured mixers, fresh herbs for garnish, and other elements that may not show up on my grocery lists, but are certainly in the domain of my most-missed mixologists. Thankfully, this week Gov. Charlie Baker finally signed off on a temporary law allowing some establishments to sell cocktails to-go, so specialty spirits are now back on the menu.
This is also good news for restaurant operators around the Bay State, who say the added revenue from alcohol might help them survive the ongoing pandemic and economic crisis. Plus, bartenders are excited to “create again” using their preferred medium, booze, says Josh Weinstein, owner of the Quiet Few in East Boston. Weinstein advocated for the newly-signed bill, dubbed #CocktailsforCommonwealth, on Beacon Hill. “It’s just a little bit of normalcy for our staff and our industry to feel whole again.”
With that in mind, here are some top takeout spots that have added mixed drinks to their menus. From Boston to the ’burbs and beyond, they have cool cocktails you can bring home right now.
Barman-turned-restaurateur Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli’s Lovejoy Wharf restaurant has navigated the entire pandemic with robust takeout options, and that finally includes hand-crafted cocktails. The strawberry-basil Bayside, named for the Westport restaurant where TSG first earned his hospitality chops, is a popular summer favorite: Black pepper-infused tequila, strawberries, basil, and lime combine in this zesty refresher. Alcove’s waterfront patio is also open for reservations.
50 Lovejoy Wharf, Boston, 617-248-0050, alcoveboston.com
The spirit-free versions of bartender Ran Duan’s Best of Boston-worthy cocktails have brightened many an at-home happy hour this year—but now his talented team is finally able to offer the real deal. (Don’t worry: Duan’s Craft Blossom Mixers are also still available.) From the guava-mascarpone Bocadillo Sour spiked with light Bacardi rum, to the toasted coconut-Knob Creek Rye sipper Tito Puente, the entire Blossom Bar cocktail menu is available to-go in the form of “fresh-squeezed cocktail cartridges.” These single-use containers are freshly made to order, and meant to pour over ice at home. Call at least 30 minutes in advance to order; Blossom Bar is also open for socially distanced dining. (Cocktail lovers should also stay tuned for takeout news from Blossom’s soon-to-open sister bar, Ivory Pearl.)
295 Washington St., Brookline, 617-734-1870, blossombarbrookline.com.
Along with roof deck and sidewalk seating, this East Boston neighborhood spot just added a handful of summery drinks to its takeout menu—including Sammy’s Frozen Marg, amped up with passion fruit and tequila; and a cool cucumber daiquiri.
24 Orleans St., East Boston, 617-567-7609, cunardtavern.com.
Even while the bar’s bottles of booze have sat tight for months, manager Joseph Choiniere has continued to create syrups, salts, and infusions for drink mixers to complement Forage’s unique takeout options. Now, not only does Forage have a brand-new “Secret Garden” for on-site socially distanced dining and imbibing, but Choiniere has also added alcoholic options to his menu of cocktails to-go. Think: a berry-topped frosé sangria; and the passion fruit-sweetened Spruce Lightning, which is tempered by the earthy qualities of house-made spruce syrup and cedar salt.
5 Craigie Circle, Cambridge, 617-576-5444, foragecambridge.com.
Summer’s favorite adult slushy, frosé, isn’t technically a cocktail—but when you add a floater of coconut rum on top, the game is changed. That’s a thing you can do now at Fox & the Knife, whether by dining on its Southie patio or taking the drink in a to-go pint cup. Let aperitivo hour begin.
28 W. Broadway, Boston, 617-766-8630, foxandtheknife.com.
A lease dispute has Boston’s Island Creek Oyster Bar, as well as its Kenmore Square siblings, Eastern Standard and the Hawthorne, in a precarious state of purgatory. However, Island Creek Oyster Bar’s Burlington outpost is back in action with several takeout cocktail options, from the So Berry Grateful—a light refresher with blueberry-infused vodka, a splash of orange cordial, strawberry and lime—to the Orange Juliesque, with smoothie-inspired flavors and textures from gin, orange, lemon, vanilla-y Licor 43, and bubbles.
300 District Ave., Burlington, 781-761-6500, islandcreekoysterbar.com/location/burlington.
A new Havana-inspired social club from the hospitality group behind Yvonne’s and Lolita, Mariel had just started grooving when restaurants had to close. She’s back now, though, for takeout and socially distanced indoor dining. Bar manager Sebastian Cañas is bringing his A-game to all experiences, with a new lineup of bottled drinks, including the house specialty Mariel mojito, complete with a bouquet of fresh mint; a coffee-spiked piña colada; and more.
10 Post Office Square, Boston, 617-333-8776, marielofficial.com.
Say cheers to busy times in East Cambridge. Chef Will Gilson and crew just launched the Lexington at Picnic Grove, an outdoor-dining preview of their soon-to-open second restaurant; meanwhile, Gilson’s first spot, Puritan & Co. (which just debuted its own brand-new patio for socially distanced dining) has added cocktails to its takeout menu. The PCo. team brought back old favorites from the pre-pandemic bar menu, including the Brown Derby, a bourbon-grapefruit lowball, and the Violette Beauregarde, tinted by blueberry-soaked vodka and Caperitif.
1166 Cambridge St., Cambridge, 617-615-6195, puritancambridge.com.
East Boston bar owner Josh Weinstein led a grassroots effort to help pass #CocktailsforCommonwealth, and now we all get to enjoy the fruits of his labor. The Quiet Few is offering two frozen drinks to-go—Frozie Perez (frosé), Keanu Freeze (a margarita). Among other libations, there’s also the new “the Love, Slane O’er Me,” with Gracenote Coffee cold brew, Slane Irish whiskey, Coole Swan Irish liqueur, and Kahlúa. This iced Irish coffee is a shoutout to the Quiet Few’s new in-house pop-up, the Morning After Bodega, which serves breakfast sandwiches and Gracenote coffee on weekdays from 7-11 a.m.
331 Sumner St., East Boston, 617-561-1061, thequietfew.com.
At this suburban standout, the Chubby Chickpea chef Avi Shemtov creates expressive homages to Israeli cuisine—such as couscous arancini, as well as a wood-roasted “Avicado” filled with summer squash and feta cheese—that are laden with modern-American flair. The same is true for the craft cocktail menu, which is available for on-site covered outdoor dining, as well as to-go orders. Simcha signatures include the Limonana, vodka-spiked fresh-squeezed lemonade with Mediterranean spearmint; and Arak Sour, made with the anise-flavored Levantine spirit, grapefruit juice, and simple syrup.
370 S Main St., Sharon, 781-867-7997, simcharestaurant.com.
During these uncertain times, chef Dave Becker has temporarily turned his Waltham restaurant, Balani, into a pop-up patio showcasing the Italian-influenced flavors of his original Needham restaurant, Sweet Basil. Both locations also offer Sweet Basil takeout, including a lineup of bottled cocktails: the spicy tequila-invoking Blue Rose, boozy bourbon-based Bitter Buffalo, and more.
Creative Cali-Mex taco combinations like chicken tinga with fried avocado have kept us coming back to Yellow Door throughout the takeout era. Still, we’ve missed our margaritas. Naturally, the margarita garden outside the taqueria’s newer, South End location is a welcome sight—but we also want to take a pouch or three of Yellow Door’s new cocktails to-go, please. The custom, Capri-Sun-style takeout drinks, available at both restaurants, come in a range of margarita flavors, from strawberry to spiced pineapple to watermelon-cilantro, and there’s a rotating selection of other fiesta-ready cocktails to-go.
2297 Dorchester Ave., Lower Mills, 857-267-4201; 354 Harrison Ave., South End, Boston, 857-239-9276, yellowdoortaqueria.com.
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