Any day of a week, it’s a fair bet you can find a Dig staffer bellied up to the bar.
Twice a year, we even take notes.
It’s time again for our semiannual 5 Drink Minimum feature—five bars, five drinks, five writers showing up a bit on the late side the next morning. This time, we’re getting those bellies up off the bar for our first-ever 5 Drink Neighborhood Crawl. Was it a marathon? A sprint? A one-legged sack race? Read on and find out.
CAMBRIDGESIDE WITH HEATHER
While Boston may get the glory (and the shame) for its notorious drinking town title, I think we’re all well aware at this point of the splendor of the Cambridge bar scene: revered bartenders mixing cocktails at incredible restaurants, renowned beer bars and brewpubs, and neighborhood joints with as much character as any Southie pub.
I roll through Kendall, Inman, and Central Squares and try to get a taste of it all, one drink at a time.
DRINK 1: CAMBRIDGE BREWING COMPANY, BARTENDER’S CHOICE
CHARLES RIVER PORTER $5.25
I’ll admit—I’m a total CBC fan girl. I write about them whenever I get the chance and find excuses to get over there whenever I can. The beer’s guaranteed to be fresh, interesting, and well-made. Ben Howe, who also happens to be operating his own brewery, Enlightenment Ales, is behind the bar tonight. He orders me the Charles River Porter as it’s one his favorites. “I drink it almost every day I’m here,” he says. I can see why—it’s the kind of beer that invites you put the day’s bullshit behind you with each roasty, hearty sip.
[1 Kendall Sq. @CambridgeBrewer. cambrew.com]
DRINK 2: LORD HOBO, YOUR CHOICE
NAPOLEON III $10
After staring at the beer menu for 10 minutes, I decide to go liquor, with the Napoleon III (Lunazul Tequila, green Chartreuse, St. Germain, lime, Fee Brother’s Old Fashioned Bitters). Coasters, post cards, and receipts with love notes and phone numbers addressed to servers are posted on the wall behind me. I ask a server if he’s ever called one. “The ones we call, we don’t put up there,” he says. I leave my number on the receipt with a note that everyone in the bar should call me. No one does. Maybe they didn’t see it.
[92 Hampshire St., @lordhobo. lordhobo.com]
DRINK 3: BUKOWSKI TAVERN, PHONE A FRIEND
NOTCH BREWING POLOTMAVY $7.50
My friend Shereen, who I call because she gives excellent advice, tells me to order “the darkest, thickest beer they have.” Technically, that’d be the Founders Breakfast Stout, but it’s 8.3 percent ABV, and I’ve got half the night ahead of me. I order Notch’s new hoppy Czech lager, Polotmavy, which is a nice 4.4 percent ABV. Drink three, and I’m already starting to hurt. The Death Cab album playing is putting me to sleep. A dull headache surfaces. I try to pull out a good, bitter, boozy Charles Bukowski quote to capture my woeful state. I got nothing.
[1281 Cambridge St., Inman Sq. @BuksCambridge. bukowskitavern.net]
DRINK 4: CANTAB LOUNGE, MUSIC PLAYING
GIN AND JUICE $5
“Gin and juice!” photographer Jacqueline shouts as we walk into the Cantab, Central Square’s finest dive bar with soul, while a funk band plays Montell Jordan’s “This is How We Do It.” It fits the scene—laidback (with my mind on my money and money on my mind), with a small crowd bopping and weaving on the dance floor. The clock behind the bar is numberless and reads “WHO CARES?!?” I certainly don’t. After downing the gin and (grapefruit) juice, we get up to dance to their cover of “Ignition,” because it’s a freakin’ Wednesday baby, and I’m about to have me some fun.
[738 Mass. Ave., Central Sq., cantab-lounge.com]
DRINK 5: BRICK AND MORTAR, HOTTEST PERSON AT THE BAR
LIDO SHUFFLE $10
Everyone at Brick & Mortar is young, attractive, and well-dressed, so I ask the bartender to help me find the hottest person here. She selects Sabrina, who has silky blonde hair pulled into a low bun, big round black glasses, and a gold leather jacket. Sabrina tells me to get the Lido Shuffle (Cocchi, Aperol, yellow chartreuse, lemon, soda) and she proves to have good taste too—it’s fizzy, refreshing, and just what I needed to close out the night.
[569 Mass Ave., Central Sq.]