My affection for the Hawthorne, the best bar in Boston, is no secret — but a recent visit reminded me why it’s cemented into my list of top cocktail establishments in Boston and beyond.
It can be dangerous to go off-menu at a bar. At best, you might annoy the bartender; and at worst, you’ll end up with sub-par sludge (or the other way around). The Hawthorne is an establishment where I consistently order off-menu, because despite whatever intriguing drinks make it onto their official rotation, I require one Under the Volcano per visit. It’s my favorite drink, and one that was recommended serendipitously after a string of tequila and mezcal cocktails. I decided to switch it up with some sherry.
The result: a perfect marriage Del Maguey Chichicapa and East India solera sherry, Amaro Nonino and chocolate bitters. It’s sweet but smokey, complex and so gratifying at the end of an evening.
When you get a thoughtful recommendation, it can be…intoxicating. But nothing compares to the disappointment of a lackluster attempt. Maybe that’s a bit melodramatic — but what seems to happen with unfortunate frequency is that my perceived (and yet undeserved!) Basic B aura results in the proverbial “just a glass of Chardonnay” cocktail garnished with a dash vocal fryyyy.
This becomes a particular issue at another lauded Boston establishment, Drink, where I’ve had excellent cocktails, but where the lack of a printed menu means I’ve also ended up with…a margarita. (No shade to margaritas, but at a place like Drink, I expect something more interesting). My husband, on the other hand, gets seated in the industry section and gets an endless supply of unique, complex beverages. Must be the beard.
I’m always curious to know the thought process behind offering certain drinks over others, but bartenders don’t always have time to explain. On our recent trip to the Hawthorne, after my obligatory Under the Volcano, I ended up with a recommendation almost equally as serendipitous: the Tobacco Road.
It makes sense: The drink uses the same mezcal for the base spirit. It’s another mezcal and sherry combo, but here the solera is swapped for more herbal and savory Fino sherry. Finally, in place of the queen of all amaro, Nonino, the Tobacco Road calls for Cynar. The result is a drink that’s definitely related, but distinctly savory — especially with its garnish, fleur de sel.
Best part — we walked away with the recipe. Thanks, Altimash!