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The Short Version: Couples in Boston often visit The Hawthorne for unique cocktails in a sophisticated, but comfortable, setting. It’s a great place to meet for a first date or to take your special someone for a memorable evening of sipping on specialty concoctions and eating high-end appetizers. In addition to cocktails created with fresh ingredients, The Hawthorne offers an impressive list of wines and craft beers perfect for any palette.
Many couples who enjoy specialty cocktails and elegant dining in the heart of Boston are familiar with Eastern Standard. The restaurant’s French-inspired American fare is as popular as its extensive cocktail menu, and its location is large enough to host the many customers interested in its breakfast, lunch, and dinner fare. While the atmosphere is certainly lively, the restaurant’s founders wanted to provide a more intimate space for patrons.
So they decided to branch out and open The Hawthorne, an elegant bar that offers a romantic atmosphere and high-end, handmade cocktails. The bar is less hectic than the bustling Eastern Standard and expands the restaurant’s list of cocktails to more people throughout the city.
“The drink creation is a little more meticulous, and the ingredient selection is a higher-end,” said Jared Sadoian, The Hawthorne’s Bar Manager. “It gave us a chance to experiment and innovate while remaining rooted in making classic cocktails.”
At The Hawthorne, couples can meet for a unique cocktail crafted with top-shelf spirits, or they can taste something from its wide selection of wines and craft beers. The establishment also offers a menu filled with delicious nibbles that can satisfy a late-night appetite.
Located next to the Hotel Commonwealth, The Hawthorne often hosts business travelers, families, sports fans, and music lovers headed to the House of Blues. While plenty of tourists frequent the bar, it also caters to locals who love a good cocktail and a night of conversation.
That’s why The Hawthorne has earned our Editor’s Choice Award™ for being an excellent place to take a date.
Jared said the cocktail list changes each week, and visitors always have seven different options to sample. If a guest isn’t interested in anything on the list, the experienced bar staff knows how to make more than 1,000 drinks, and they’re confident they’ll find something for any taste.
The Hawthorne uses high-quality ingredients and a healthy dose of creative spirit to come up with its tasty concoctions. A recent menu included the Metro Century, made with Plantation white rum, Cocchi Americano, lime, and Angostura bitters. Another option was Remember the Maine, mixed with Redemption rye, vermouth, Cherry Heering, and absinthe. The menu also includes suggested sips, which are small pours of favorite spirits.
The Hawthorne hires bartenders based on their intellectual curiosity, customer service skills, and empathetic, kind disposition — not just experience.
“Everyone started as a bar back or a host and worked their way up the ladder,” Jared said. “We have a team with a lot of perspectives, and everyone is ready to pitch in and help — even if it’s not in their job description. That makes for a more seamless job experience and a better time spent in a bar.”
It also makes for a sophisticated atmosphere that feels comfortable. Instead of just stools and uncomfortable tables, living room-style furniture fills the bar. Some people stay for two to four hours, savoring the different flavors and spirits.
“They get variety, too. Every time people come back there’s something different for them to try,” he said. “We have off-the-beaten-path wines and craft beer, along with 550 different spirits that cover the globe and many different styles.”
The Hawthorne is primarily a bar, but it also offers elevated fare that’s designed to be a perfect amount of food for a pre-dinner snack or late-night nibble.
Its menu options include steak tartare, deviled eggs, sweet potato chips, halloumi, and freshly baked pretzel bites. Many patrons enjoy those easy-to-share bites with their dates.
“It goes beyond what you would find in a pub or a more casual bar — which usually centers around fried stuff. We want to use what’s fresh, what’s local, and what’s in-season,” Jared said. “From there, we can be a little creative with our food program. It’s a short list, but well-curated, and It’s the right amount of bites for someone looking to have a cocktail or two.”
People who come to enjoy the upscale atmosphere won’t have to pay a premium for the experience. Jared said couples can enjoy a couple of cocktails and an appetizer for under $30. Fancy dinners on first dates can be much more expensive — and less intimate.
That atmosphere is also why The Hawthorne is fast becoming a popular place to host wedding receptions in Boston. And, unlike renting out a large, nondescript venue, the bar is a place where the couple can return to remember their special day.
Recently, Jared said a couple came in and requested a particular table for drinks. Since that type of request isn’t as common, the bartender asked why. It turned out, the couple was celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary and had had their first date at that table at The Hawthorne.
Staff at The Hawthorne often hear similar stories because the bar has all of the ingredients for a lively conversation that could lead to much more.
When school is in session at Boston University, The Hawthorne often has seats filled with people out on first dates, Jared said, and those couples love the fact that the bar changes up its drink menu. There’s always something new to try.
Jared added that he thinks The Hawthorne is a better place for a first date than an expensive wine tasting or dinner that could feel way too long if the people aren’t compatible.
“Bars provide an escape route. You can have a drink and exit and be fine,” he told us. “We especially like our bar because it’s quieter than other establishments in the area. We control our space, so we don’t let it fill the way a more casual bar will.”
That means that, if you’re sitting at the bar with your date, you won’t have people crowding behind you trying to get the bartender’s attention. It also means that you can enjoy a quiet conversation in the back without people standing close enough to distract you.
Not only does this provide a more relaxed environment, but the extra space also allows the bar staff to provide better service and more complex cocktails without sacrificing quality.
As a result, The Hawthorne is fast becoming one of the most popular places to visit for a drink in Boston. That’s especially true if you’re what Jared calls a “cocktail geek.” The bar has even been named the Best American Hotel Bar at the Tales of the Cocktail industry event in New Orleans. It was also on the shortlist of nominees for the World’s Best Spirits selection.
“We are seeing more people coming in because they’re interested in spirits, cocktails, or making drinks for people,” Jared said. “We’ll always be looking for ways to get better.”