Boston Cocktail Crawl – The Hawthorne

A sharp and elegant hotel bar, the Hawthorne is tailor-made for the Boston sophisticate looking for a night on the town.

Ambiance: ****

Decor: ****

Service: ****

Cocktails: ****

Overall Rating: 4

After a beautiful evening stroll through Boston University I found myself at the Hawthorne, a bar that several local cocktail aficionados have recommended.  I made sure to get there early as I suspected the place would get hopping on a Friday night.  Good call there, as I was lucky enough to snag a seat before the rush.  It was a stroke of luck as I really loved the Hawthorne – done in a light art deco style, the bar is elegant but not stuffy.  To my left was a couple on an anniversary date, to the right was a first date, so all are made welcome. The bartenders are fast but friendly, which is quite an accomplishment given the number of fairly complex cocktails they have to turn out!

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So on to the drinks!  The Hawthorne offers a rotating cocktail list of seven drinks, of which I tried five.  The first was the “Bicyclette” with St. Germain, Campari, lemon, and bubbles.  This was a perfect light drink in that it was bubbly yet substantial, with a tamed Campari bitterness adding something really interesting to a champagne-activated drink.  Sort of a like a mimosa that got it’s Ph.D, this is a great way to start an evening.  Next up was the “El Diablo” with tequila, cassis, lime, and ginger ale.  This was another superb drink because it was so perfectly balanced, the tequila and other ingredients offering a measured peppery burn throughout.  Strong on the front and pleasantly mellow and citrusy throughout the rest.

Moved on to the “Bossa Nova Special” with rum, galliano, pineapple, apricot, and egg white.  This was my favorite of the evening mostly because it used pineapple so well, which I’ve found is a difficult trick to pull off in cocktails.  That tang works perfectly well off the velvet softness of the egg white, leading to a fantastically unique after taste.  The mint leaves also add a great influence to the taste.  Just a great one, don’t miss it.  I then went with the “Red Maple Swizzle” with Smith and Cross rum, lemon, maple, and peychaud’s bitters.  Best part about this drink is you get to watch the bartenders furiously swizzle away.  I actually found this drink a little too maple-strong, and the syrupy taste sort of overwhelmed the rest of the ingredients.  Just a little too sweet and heavy, I thought.

The finale was the “Tailspin” with Ford’s gin, vermouth, chartreuse, and campari rinse.  I liked this one a lot, a consistent gin-light taste throughout, very even rendering of the vermouth and chartreuse.  The light campari taste is interesting too, sort of hits at the end unexpectedly.  The gin is also excellent.  And it looks just beautiful.

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