When you ask people in the know where the best spots are for really well-made, serious cocktails crafted by industry vets with solid townie pedigrees—where, specifically, their chosen Quincy haunt for such things is located—the answer is often some form of “actually, nowhere in Quincy.”
But that’s changing. Circumstances have for some time been leading to a revitalization of the static and ho-hum nature of the serious eats scene down there, be it the relatively inexpensive nature of real estate and liquor license price tags compared to Boston, or the facelift all of Quincy center is currently receiving. Either way, things are starting to look bright where once it was nothing but Bud Light.
And now that The Townshend has opened on Hancock Street, right across from the burial ground of presidents John Quincy and John Quincy Adams in the Presidents Place complex (which also houses Quincy College), those looking to slip out of the city and take the Red Line right to Quincy Center have a pretty stellar new option for polished but unpretentious cocktailing, courtesy of owner and bar master Devin Adams. Townshend’s libation list bears the mark of the cocktail programs that those spots like Drink and Island Creek Oyster Bar, places Adams and his team cut their teeth in, are famous for.
“People are looking at us like, ‘These are the only people doing classic cocktails and fresh citrus on daily basis [in Quincy],’” he says. “I feel as if we’re getting in here now to test the waters.”
Adams says since the current market down there is rife with those that rarely if ever seek out and indulge in the types of cocktails Townshend will be brandishing (“There are little sparkles of it, but it’s not quite there yet,” he says) he and his team are potentially laying the groundwork for other upstarts hoping to plant a flag in Quincy.
“What I learned going through opening Island Creek Oyster Bar is value,” Adams says. “You gotta offer what people want.”
In the case of the lithe seasonal lineup of tipplers, all of which come in a range of mismatched vintage glassware from Goodwill, there are nine options, all with a seasonal bent. Think: lots of fresh herbs and citrus, some smoke here, some cava there. The team also wanted to find connections between the drinks and the history of Quincy, be it the refreshing cucumber and vodka Adams Green, named for the plot of turf located across from the restaurant (“We are playing to our field here, and you just can’t not have a vodka drink on the menu”), or the local Privateer rum, fresh pineapple juice, and herbal Peacefield, named for the home of John and Abigail Adams (“A good summer drink … gets you where you need to be”). In the end, Adams says setting the bar high for quality but lacking the snootiness that can sometimes come along with that quality is the key for Townshend making an impact on locals.
“We’re very much like the blue-collar style of bartenders within the [serious cocktail] world,” he says. “We know our shit, we’re trained well, but we’re not here to present the gospel about how everything should be done from now on.”
THE TOWNSHEND. NOW OPEN. 1250 HANCOCK ST., QUINCY. 617.481.9694. THETOWNSHEND.COM
Dan is a freelance journalist and has written for publications including Vice, Esquire, the Daily Beast, Fast Company, Pacific Standard, MEL, Leafly, Thrillist, and DigBoston.