One month to go. Prepare to be boarded! Please join us on June 16th for the 10th Annual Pirate themed bar crawl and Boston Harbor cruise.
We’re currently at about 70% sold. Once our tickets are gone, we won’t have any more (only so much room on the boat). So please sign up soon.
Still not sure? A picture tells a thousand words and we’ve got hundreds of those.
In January, we took advantage of cheap flight prices to check out some cities in Europe. Here’s our roundup of places to check out when in Amsterdam.
We did a 48 hour hop on/hop off tour, which included both bus and boat. This was a good way to get around, but note that traffic can get BAD, so you may be sitting on the bus for awhile. The boat seems like a more efficient way to get around, and the canals are fun to tour. Bikes are obviously huge in Amsterdam and you can rent them, but we opted not to. Be careful when you’re walking, bike lines are not always clearly marked, and they don’t stop!
Stops on the HOHO tour:
Brouwerij’T Ij: This is a brewery located in Amsterdam’s biggest windmill. This is a really cool place to visit, as it combines cool history and architecture with really great beers! From here, you can take a quick walk to Dapper Markt, which is a fun outdoor market with food an clothing. Don’t miss the pancakes! Another fun stop is the Vondelpark, where the famous Amsterdam sign is. Did you even really go to Amsterdam if you don’t ‘gram yourself in front of this sign?
One of the stops on the tour was Gassan Diamonds. Here is a free tour of the diamond factory that the tour guides push hard. We were about to get off the tour and check it out, but luckily we talked to some people who did the tour. It’s apparently a BIG sales pitch, and not worth your time, unless you’re in the market for diamonds. Don’t bother.
Another stop is the Anne Frank House. A big tip, if you want to tour the house, get your tickets as soon as you book your trip. We tried to get our tickets a few weeks before and it was already sold out. We got to see the outside, but plan ahead if you want to go in.
Here’s a rundown of our favorite cocktail bars. We were lucky to meet a friendly bartender at the first stop who gave us a great recommendation list.
The Tailor: This is a fairly new hotel bar. The bartenders were great and the drinks were good. Not as inventive as some of the places further down the list, but we never would have found those places without the help of the bartender here.
House Bar: This is another hotel bar, but it doesn’t feel like it. The drinks here are crazy inventive. Each page is themed on Amsterdam history and how the cocktails are inspired by it. One of the drinks we had here came topped with an “oyster” with a white chocolate pearl filled with lychee syrup, which complimented the drink. Very unique!
Porem: Another interesting cocktail bar. It’s hard to find from the outside. The drink list was smaller but the staff was so nice and friendly. The host was excited to talk about Boston once he found out that was where we were from. He was asking us about Drink, even though he’s never been.
Tales and Spirits: GO EARLY. This place fills up fast and has some of the most innovative cocktails I’ve seen. One of our drinks was chocolate inspired and came in a chocolate box. Another was a flaming cocktail that was so fun and delicious. Don’t miss this place.
Flying Dutchmen: When we were there, this place had only been open a few weeks. Another place where the staff was SO nice and friendly. We were the first ones in, so we had a great conversation with the owner and bartender who made us feel at home. They let us behind the bar for a picture when we left, and made a call to get us into Tales and Spirits. Their cocktails are also story related, and well made.
We did eat occasionally, and here are our favorites:
Cannibale Royale: This was our favorite dinner. Don’t let the name scare you! This place is known for its steaks and burgers. It gets crowded too, so try to make a reservation. We were lucky to get seats at the bar.
Greenwoods: This is a tiny café (they have an ample outdoor patio, but it wasn’t opened in January when we were there) with a line. It was worth the wait. They specialize in English breakfasts and it was delicious. Good coffee and tea options to start a day of sightseeing.
Restaurant Lucius: This was a nice seafood restaurant. They have a 2 or 3 course dinner option, or you can order a la carte. The food was fresh and well prepared.
All in all, Amsterdam was a great city to visit. It was beautiful, and the people there are so kind. One of the best parts of the trip was just talking to people. They loved to tell us about their city, but also seemed equally interested in us and our travels.
The Pirate Crawl / Boston Harbor Cruise is about 2 months away and our tickets are going fast. Since we’re on a boat, tickets will be limited. Once they’re gone, they’re gone. So don’t wait too long if you’re interested.
See you soon Matey! Arrggghhh
Union Square is an area we don’t get to as much as we should. It’s a little out of the way (although that will change with the impending Green Line extension), but it’s an area that has a concentration of really great bars. Every time we go, we wonder why we don’t go more often!
We started off with the reason for being in the area. We had a Gilt City voucher for a tasting at Bantam Tap room. This is a small but fun space with interesting ciders. The tap room looks into the production facility, so you get a peek at the tanks and equipment. They have quite a variety, ranging from sweet to dry to hoppy. The staff is knowledgeable and efficient, especially since it was fairly crowded when we were there. After our tasting was complete, we took a short walk down Somerville Ave to The Independent.
The Independent is a causal pub filled with dark wood. It has good cocktails and a nice beer list. It was recently renovated, so it’s a spruced up version than the less polished version we visited years ago, but it’s a great place to hang out.
Next we headed to Back Bar. This is hidden down a small driveway and is easy to miss, but you really shouldn’t! This is a smallish, eclectic space filled with tchotchkes with an emphasis on Star Wars and cats (if you want to make friends with your bartender/server, ask for some cat pictures!). The staff here is so friendly, and they have extremely creative cocktails. They will also go off book and make something tailored to your particular taste. To balance our cocktails, we had some bar snacks here, including an insanely good buttermilk ranch popcorn, cheese puffs, and olives. These were great accompaniments for liquor-forward drinks. One drink that stood out in particular was a drink special for the day, a Fluff milk punch. We ordered this since it was seasonally appropriate (Easter weekend), and it was fantastic. Not too sweet, and clarified so it wasn’t as heavy as a normal milk punch, with a touch of toasted Fluff on the glass. This place can fill up quickly, especially on May 4th, when they have Star Wars themed night, so go early or prepare to wait. Overall this is just a fun, comfortable place with great staff, great drinks, and great ambiance. Put this on your must-visit list if you haven’t been.
Our next stop was next door to Bronwyn. This is a German restaurant with outstanding food, and we never miss it on a trip to Union. The space is cozy and comfortable, and in the summer they have a small outdoor beer garden. The feature a large beer menu focused on Central Europe – Germany, Austria, Poland, and the Czech Republic. They offer flights, a “world tour” (a bucket of beers with a bottle from each region) and a German classic – Das Boot. We can’t skip the food here, so we ordered quite a sampling of the menu, including the Bretzel, the wurst trio, the schnitzel and the potato salad. Everything was delicious, and went well with our beers. We ended the meal with a schnapps tasting, in preparation for our impending trip to Oktoberfest in Munich this fall. This place is another must-visit! German food is pretty hard to come by in Greater Boston, so it’s perfect for a schnitzel fix.
We ended the evening with a nightcap at Brass Union. This is another dark wood pub, with great cocktails and board games. While we didn’t sample any food, they do have an extensive menu.
Overall, Union Square is a great neighborhood filled with amazing gems. If it’s not in your rotation, it should be. Go check it out!
When we’re not organizing bar crawls, we still find ourselves visiting bars and fun spots around the city.
Downtown Crossing (Part 1 as there are a ton more bars that we need to visit in this area)
Recently we had a birthday party to attend at JJ Foley’s on Kingston Street, so we took the opportunity, as we are wont to do, do have a little bar crawl before hand. We visited some of our favorite places in the Downtown Crossing area for some pre-party food and drinks.
We started at one of our favorites, Marliave. Marliave is a great gem in Downtown Crossing. It’s very old school and French influenced, with a great cocktail program, and daily dollar oyster specials from 4-6 and 9-10. This is one of the few dollar oyster places that will give you a choice of oysters, and not just a single kind. They’re well shucked and were great with the Henry Marliave cocktail (vodka, Lillet Blanc, Chambord, prosecco, lemon). We also split and order of Henry’s Soup. This is a French onion soup filled with tender short rib and melted Gruyere. It was delicious and warming, especially on the cold winter night we were there. It tastes long simmered, with the decadent short rib and melty cheese. Bonus points for the beautiful old fashioned footed crock it comes in. They happily offered to split an order into two bowls, which we weren’t expecting, but was a nice touch. This is truly one of the best French onion in Boston!
After our soup, we headed next door to Barracuda Tavern. This place feels sort of divey, without really being a dive. It has a great beer selection as well as wine and liquor. The staff is very friendly, and they have a solid, seafood leaning food menu. They have a nice selection of bar snacks, and we split an order of bacon wrapped scallops which were tasty and went well with our beers. This is a great, casual hangout in DTX.
Next stop was Mast’ (the confounding apostrophe isn’t a typo). This is a Italian spot that prides itself on its Neapolitan pizza. To start, we had an espresso martini (made with real espresso, not flavored liquor), and a Nutella martini, that, while good, should have been ordered for dessert. We split a pizza with prosciutto, artichokes, and black olives. It was fine, but the sauce was kind of watery, and the crust didn’t seem as crisp as it could have been ,coming from a wood fired oven. It was fine, but there are better pizzas in the area.
We left Mast’ and headed down Province Street four next stop at haley.henry wine bar. This is a charming, tiny restaurant that has friendly staff, and a particularly amazing 90s soundtrack. This restaurant specializes in tinned fish, charcuterie, and wine. The staff is always happy to talk about their wine, and apart from the menu of wines by the glass, they’ll open any bottle as long as you have two glasses. We got the tuna pate, which was served with a whole grain mustard and pickled onions. Before we’ve sampled other tins as well as the charcuterie board, and we’ve never been disappointed. We’re looking forward to the sister restaurant this team is slated to open in Fenway later this year.
Our final stop before the party is the iconic Omni Parker House. There are two bars here, Parker’s and The Last Hurrah. Both are very old school, and specialize in classic cocktails, and playful twists, such as a Boston Crème Pie martini. We suggest getting the real thing if you’re here, the classic Boston crème pie is something not to be missed. Both of these bars cater to locals and tourists alike, and it’s worth a stop in.
Thanks all. You’re the best. The Pirate Crawl / Boston Harbor Party Cruise early bird tickets are now sold out. We’re very much looking forward to seeing you.
Regular tickets are now available.
Just a quick update regarding the Pirate Crawl this June. We’re under 10 early bird tickets. We expect to run out later today or early tomorrow so save your money and sign up now. Cheers -C.I.B.