When is a drink not just a drink? When it’s a meal in a glass, of course. Some of the hippest places in Boston have cooked up cocktails using ingredients that are usually found on your dinner plate. But rather than being heavy or overwhelming, these beverages are just savory enough to whet your appetite. From appetizer to dessert, from soup to, yes, nuts, these concoctions provide a feast for the senses that won’t leave you uncomfortably full.
Blue-cheese-stuffed olives are the perfect prelude to a savory meal. Bathe them in premium vodka and you’ve got a cocktail that’s both apéritif and amuse-bouche. Sure, these days blue-cheese martinis are a dime (ahem, and an arm and a leg) a dozen, but the appropriatelynamed Vox martini ($10) at Vox Populi (755 Boylston Street, Boston, 617.424.8300) and the Dirty Harry ($12) at Noir (Charles Hotel, 1 Bennett Street, Cambridge, 617.661.8010) are two stellar examples of the tasty cocktail. Be patient, gobbling grasshoppers. The longer the olives steep, the more complex your drink will become. Leave them alone, enjoy your martini, and when you finally chow down on your garnish, you will be rewarded.
Speaking of Noir, it also serves the Chartreuse Basil ($12), a mixture of fresh basil, lime, and Green Chartreuse, a complex French liqueur. Infused with more than 100 herbs and flowers, Chartreuse is produced at a monastery by Carthusian monks and gets its natural coloring from chlorophyll. But enough about the details. What matters is that it tastes like a French fairy tale. And how else can you enjoy 100 herbs and flowers crammed into a glass?
The Leaning Mary-tini at Ivy
A brand-new dinner menu, a swanky basement lounge, and a comprehensive selection of premium vodkas are reason enough to hit the Good Life (28 Kingston Street, Boston, 617.451.2622). Once you’re there, though, check out the cucumber martini ($12), a refreshing blend of gin, cucumber, dry vermouth, and lime juice. It’s crisp and delicate, like a fresh summer salad. Close your eyes and sip one of these during the next nor’easter and, for a moment, enjoy visions of warm-weather English gardens.
The Union Oyster House (41 Union Street, Boston, 617.227.2750) is a good stop for succulent oysters on the half-shell. And you can enjoy these plump, pearly suckers long after dinner time. Order up an oyster shooter ($7.60) from the gorgeous bartending staff; they’ll scrape a single oyster into a shot glass and cover it with cocktail sauce, horseradish, Tabasco, and a shot of chilled citrus vodka. It’s a taste of spicy, slippery heaven.
If raw seafood isn’t your thing but you still seek something savory, Ivy (49 Temple Place, Boston, 617.451.1416) has a hearty cocktail that will satisfy your palate and your stomach. The Leaning Mary-tini ($12) is an antipasto of tomato, olive, and fresh mozzarella on a skewer, soaking in citrus vodka, house-infused horseradish gin, fresh lime, and V8 juice, and finished with a salt-and-pepper rim. Basically, it kicks the Bloody Mary’s ass to a gory pulp.