Drink (Boston, MA)

(Update: On January 5th 2024, Barbara Lynch announced that most of her restaurants, including Sportello, Menton, and Drink, were closing permanently and immediately due to lease issues. They will be missed.)

While I occasionally make a few exceptions to this rule, I generally don’t review cocktail bars that are just cocktail bars. And indeed, that’s the case with Drink. Located in Boston’s Fort Point neighborhood, downstairs from Sportello (which I reviewed in 2012, and is owned by the same folks), Drink is primarily a cocktail bar, but they do have a limited bar menu. And while that bar menu has a few gems, that’s not why I’m reviewing them; instead, it’s one particularly off-the-menu item that drew my attention.

But first, let’s talk about the cocktails. Drink has a particular approach to bartending: while one can simply walk up to the bar (at least, if one goes at off-hours times) and order a drink, their normal approach is to instead ask you about what sort of cocktail you enjoy, and make something to order for you. In general, this works quite well, although depending on the particular bartender the results vary—for example, telling the bartender that I’m looking for something that is gin-based and has fruit notes, I’ve had everything from the inventive (“Here’s my take on a gin fizz, with grapefruit) from some of the better bartenders, to somewhat less creative (Bee’s Knees, a standard cocktail). But in general, they do a very good job, know their cocktails well, and use very good ingredients.

And they’ve got a food menu as well, with items ranging from french fries, to charcuterie and cheese plates, to some fairly substantial sandwiches. And while the pastrami sandwich I’ve had was good, the best item isn’t on the menu they give you. Instead, if you look behind the bar, there’s one of those “white plastic on felt” boards welcoming you to drink, and at the bottom of that board is a simple one-liner “Burgers Remaining: XX”, where the number decrements through the evening.

Asking about the burger, the staff happily tells you that it’s a special, but there are a limited number of them. From a conceptual standpoint, this isn’t a terribly fancy burger: it’s basically a high-end Big Mac: Two patties, cheese, “special sauce”, pickles, onion, and such served up on a sesame bun. But that’s where the comparison ends. The patties are made from Drink’s own special meat blend, and it’s a very, very flavorful patty with a high fat content, and they cooked mine a perfect medium rare: still dark pink in the middle, crispy on the outside, and just oozing with fat and beef flavor, with just enough salt to make it pleasantly salt. Add in some quality cheese, some house-made pickles, a tangy thousand-island dressing that wasn’t at all greasy, and an immaculately done sesame bun, and this pretty much nailed the “double cheeseburger” concept square. Nothing fancy, just a basic Mac-style burger done to perfection. A bit pricey ($14, to be exact, and that’s just for the burger, served up on a small silver platter), but in a city that’s had a lot of great burgers (such as the excellent burger I recently had at Brick and Mortar, or the always excellent stalwart of Craigie and Main), Drink’s burger is hold its own. I do think there’s a bit of artificial scarcity going on here, however…. I noticed the “Burgers remaining” count never got decremented while we were at Drink, despite three burgers being visible in the bar from my seat, but still, it’s a great burger.

The fries were no slouch, either. Done in what I call the “slab” style, these were doubly (or possibly triply) cooked thick slabs of potato, but still nicely done as a potato product; a smooth and creamy interior, a nice crispy exterior, and served up with a malt-vinegar aoili that actually combines the nicer aspects of vinegar and mayo, I was pleased with this as well.

Drink is pricey enough that it’s not a regular destination of our, but it does get a fair amount of “pre-dinner drink” or “stop on the way to the airport” visits from us, and I’ll have to say, finally having had the burger, it’s on my “craving a burger” short list as well. I’ll definitely be back.

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