Outdoor Seating, Part 6 – Booze With a View

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As we hurtle through the final week of August, I find myself grappling with the same question I do every year at this time: Where the hell did the summer go? In this most fleeting of New England seasons, this is usually the point at which I take stock of all the summertime plans I made back in the spring and realize that I have only a matter of days to accomplish the remainder of them.

That said, if I’m going to get to the beach, do some kayaking, explore the Boston Harbor islands, play some mini golf, go to a few Sox games, spend a weekend at the Cape, and host a cookout before Labor Day, then it’s time to get crackin’.

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One thing I’ll definitely find time for as summer approaches its unofficial finale is enjoying a few drinks al fresco. So for the final installment of the 2014 BBH Outdoor Seating series, we’ll hit up a few Boston roof decks. As you may recall, I already did a rooftop-themed story a couple of summers ago. But let’s face it – sipping drinks a few stories from the ground is a novelty that doesn’t quickly wear off.

Legal Harborside

And how could it with views like this?

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As much as I try to avoid writing about chains here on Boston BarHopper, it’s hard to resist the allure of Legal Harborside. Two outdoor patios and a lounge enclosed by glass walls offer sweeping views of Boston Harbor and the city itself. The outdoor areas tend to fill up quickly, but they’re fairly spacious, with wicker furniture sets and plenty of stools lining the perimeter of the deck.

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If you can’t find a seat outside, you can still enjoy the view from indoors. Guests tend to make a beeline for the comfortable leather couches by the windows, but with a long mirror behind the 15-seat bar that reflects the harbor, you can watch sunsets and sailboats from almost any vantage point.

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And you can enjoy those views year-round from the comfort of the indoor lounge – just one benefit of having a retractable roof.

The drink list is what you’d expect of an upscale chain restaurant, with a decent variety of specialty drinks and some seasonal offerings. I started with the Red Sangria, which was way too sweet.

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With red wine, peach liqueur, citrus and raspberry rums, fresh citrus, and lemon-lime soda, this was more of a fruity punch than a sangria. Then again, it was a generous pour in a big glass, so I can only be but so critical.

I figured the Harpoon Mango IPA would be too sweet as well, but I was pleasantly surprised. If I’m not mistaken, this unusual Harpoon variety is specially made for Legal Harborside, and it’s a pretty solid IPA with a mild fruitiness.

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A crisp but refreshing beer, I could easily throw back a few of these while watching the sun disappear behind the surrounding buildings, bathing the roof deck in a warm, amber glow.

Address: 270 Northern Avenue, Boston

Website:http://www.legalseafoods.com/restaurants/boston-legal-harborside

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Rooftop at Revere

While a seafood restaurant by the water might be the most traditional of summertime New England settings, the Revere Hotel goes for modern and trendy with its rooftop bar.

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With a striking red and white color scheme and panoramic views of the Boston skyline, the Rooftop at Revere offers sophisticated comfort for a crowd that blends well-dressed professionals with hotel guests in bathing suits, availing themselves of the rooftop swimming pool.

All throughout the large, open space are couches, chaise lounges, and even a few cabanas.

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Enormous potted plants contribute a little greenery, and a few bizarre sculptures provide…ambience, I guess.

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The Revere’s drink menu is clearly geared to summertime imbibing, with colorful, fruity drinks that hit the spot after a dip in the pool or while watching the sun go down.

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I was expecting the Passion Hurricane to be little more than poolside fare, but was taken aback by an unexpected sour component. While grapefruit juice wasn’t listed among the ingredients – Bacardi Gold, a combination of passion fruit, lime, orange, and pineapple juices, and Angostura bitters – I’d swear it was in there. Whether by design or mistake, the phantom grapefruit balanced out the sweeter juices and made for a surprisingly complex warm-weather cocktail.

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And yet the Hibiscus Punch was considerably sweeter than I was anticipating. Made with white rum, aged rum, ginger liqueur, hibiscus tea syrup, and fresh lime juice, I was expecting a more noticeable herbal tartness from the tea. Still, it was easy-drinking and refreshing on a warm summer evening.

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Address: 200 Stuart Street, Boston

Website:http://www.reverehotel.com/#rooftop

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Cityside Bar

It’s not as stylish as the Revere or as spacious as Legal. The view of Cleveland Circle is a little short of breathtaking.

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But Brighton’s Cityside Bar exudes the sort of laid-back, unpretentious charm that you can only find at a well-worn neighborhood pub.

Cityside’s not a destination for lobster, craft cocktails, or subdued house music; this is where you go for oversize pitchers of beer, karaoke, and Sox games on TV. But what immediately sets Cityside apart from most neighborhood bars is its roof deck. Long, narrow, and populated mostly by two-person tables, it’s a cozy space with bright red umbrellas that keep the sun at bay.

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Eschewing the latest cocktail trends, Cityside’s drink list generally favors sweet, potent, and colorful over small-batch spirits and exotic mixers. But on a sweltering summer afternoon, sometimes there’s nothing better. I started with the Classic Margarita, which cost me a mere $6. It was a pretty standard, no-frills margarita, and it certainly hit the spot.

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The Hurricane is a loose interpretation of the Bourbon Street classic, made with dark rum, amaretto, grenadine, orange juice, and pineapple juice. A sweet, guilty pleasure.

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The Pineapple Express is basically a pineapple mojito. With muddled mint and lime, it made for another thirst-quenching drink on a hot day.

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Cityside’s food menu is straightforward but surprisingly extensive, with a solid variety of appetizers, sandwiches, and burgers. The California burger is topped with bacon, cheese, and fresh avocado.

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The pastrami Reuben melt combines the best of both sandwiches, with a generous portion of lean pastrami, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing.

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Remarkable? No. Satisfying? You bet.

Address: 1960 Beacon Street, Brighton

Website:http://www.citysidebar.com/

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So, there you have it. Another summer in the books. In the coming days, vacations will end, students will be back in full force, and the days will start getting noticeably shorter.

But with any luck, the pleasant weather will extend long past Labor Day weekend. And even if you can’t cram in all your remaining summertime plans before the leaves turn, there’s still time to eat and imbibe outdoors. Before you know it, the patio furniture will go into storage and the roof decks will close, so make the most of the season while it lasts.

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