No. 4: Libertine Liquor Bar
Neal Brown’s cocktail bar changed its location and approach, but the drinks are still incredible.
The vests and ties are back at the Libertine. Once bartender hallmarks when the cocktail lounge opened in a chic space on Washington Street a few years ago, they gradually gave way to beanies and flannels as management fretted about the joint feeling too pretentious. Now that the Libertine is open in a new, decidedly scruffier spot in the basement of Pizzology on Mass Ave, the formalwear has returned. And somehow, it looks more at home than ever behind the bar.
The new concept rambles across a couple of rooms, with much lower ceilings than the old location and decor that’s meant to look a little bit beaten-up. The music is louder. Drinks are just as strong.
On that front, they hired away star ’tender Roger Gross (who once won a Las Vegas Best Bartender competition) from Thunderbird. And Libertine still seems committed to the innovation that landed it a spot on Esquire’s “Best Bars in America” list in 2013. Monday, when the bar is closed, is “lab time”—a chance for the bartenders to bring in ingredients and play. Sometimes those sessions produce refreshing vodka concoctions (such as the cucumber-infused Elsa), sometimes dark, stirred cocktails (such as the Word 8, a mixture of bourbon, orange juice, and pomegranate syrup).
While the old Libertine closed at midnight, the new one stays open until 2 or 3 a.m. The late shift caters to staff members of nearby restaurants, and they pack the place in the wee hours. Who knows a great bar better than they do? 608 Massachusetts Ave., 631-3333
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