I try to avoid using the word “unique” in my bar and cocktail writing. Generally speaking, it’s a term that’s prone to overuse. And seldom is it truly applicable.
But in the case of Better Sorts Social Club, I can’t think of a more apt descriptor.
Stylish but Cozy
Better Sorts opened last October in the space once occupied by Highball Lounge in the Nine Zero Hotel. And while the layout is largely unchanged, the aesthetic is startlingly different. Gone is Highball’s upscale rec room vibe, replaced with something decidedly more sophisticated.
Long tables in the center allow for ample standing room by the bar, while comfortable couches and tucked-away tables lend themselves to more intimate conversations. Dark wooden walls give the space the feel of a beautiful old den. Framed portraits of animals decked out in all manner of outfits add a bit of levity.
OK, Who Ordered the Squash Drink?
But what truly distinguishes Better Sorts is its beverage program. With a cocktail menu delineated by categories such as “Squash,” “Greens,” and “Pear,” Better Sorts declares itself a bar intent on doing things differently.
Head bartender Naomi Levy, former bar manager at Eastern Standard and recipient of a slew of industry awards, leads a highly original drink program that emphasizes presentation, uncommon ingredients, and fresh ideas. Even cocktail enthusiasts who feel like they’ve seen it all are likely to be intrigued by drinks that incorporate zucchini syrup, seaweed, and coconut curry.
A gorgeous cocktail with an unexpected sweetness, the Return of Major Tom combines Asian pear-infused Toki Japanese whisky, orgeat, a burnt toast tincture (!!!), and egg, with a striking garnish of ash.
The Tide is High is stunning as well. Made with Plantation pineapple rum, kale, Giffard Crème de Banane, and lime juice, it balances sweet, tropical, and vegetal notes.
Tasting every bit like an adult PB&J sandwich, Fifteen Minutes combines peanut-infused Basil Hayden, collards, aquafaba, lemon stock, and hot pepper jelly, served in a glass that’s equal parts elegant and adorable.
For the More Cautious Palate
Despite their unusual composition, Better Sorts’ original cocktails are entirely approachable. But if black pepper pasta water syrup and gouda-infused vermouth aren’t your thing, other drinks are refreshingly familiar.
The timeless Sherry Cobbler is perfect for the cold weather, with a blend of sherries, lemon, thyme, and cranberry.
The Hanky Panky packs a boozy punch, with Beefeater gin, sweet vermouth, and Fernet Branca.
And if those don’t grab you, just relax and order a Sazerac.
Address: 90 Tremont Street, Boston
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