From bars and dance venues to theater and jazz clubs, Boston has a thriving night scene and plenty of university students to keep the party going. It doesn’t matter if you’re a cocktail, wine, or craft beer fan — there’s something here for you. The main problem is that nights tend to end earlier than other big cities around the world. Last call is 2:00 AM, and the MBTA makes its last runs between midnight and 1:00 AM, leaving late-night revelers to rely on Lyft, Uber, or their own two feet to get back home.
There is, however, always the option to start early. These are the best bars, breweries, and live music venues in Boston.
The Hawthorne $$$ — Head to the bottom level of Hotel Commonwealth to find a cozy bar that feels like a friend’s living room, complete with sofas, rugs, and art on the walls. Claim a cushy seat and enjoy some of the finest original craft cocktails in the city. There are options made with small batch bourbons, aquavit, rum, tequila, vodka — you name it. There’s also a curated neat pours selection of rum, tequila, and whiskey.
Where: 500 A Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215
Ruby Room $$$ — Located in the Kimpton Onyx Hotel, Ruby Room is a sexy, sultry spot to sip a well-made cocktail in a hushed, dimly lit atmosphere. If you’re hungry, there’s upscale bar food like pork sliders, mini tacos, and blue cheese burgers. The signature drink is the Ruby Red Martini made with basil and grapefruit.
Where: 155 Portland St, Boston, MA 02114
21st Amendment $$ — To get a taste of Boston politics with your cold one, stop by 21st Amendment, a lively pub that was first designed as a luxury hotel in 1899 and is located across from the Massachusetts State House. The menu has classic cocktails and a basic beer selection. It’s long been popular with legislators, lobbyists, and locals. John F. Kennedy was even said to pen his speeches by the fireplace in the back.
Where: 150 Bowdoin St, Boston, MA 02108
The Beehive $$ — Catch professional and emerging music acts nightly at this funky, brick-walled space located in the Boston Center for the Arts complex. To drink, there are classic and original cocktails and a diverse wine menu to choose from. Check out the food menu as well, which has eclectic comfort food (think vegetable curry and piri piri pork shoulder).
Where: 541 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02116
Wally’s Café $ — To hear some of the city’s best jazz, head to Wally’s Café, which has been entertaining patrons with live music since 1947. To this day, there are shows 365 days of the year. Devotees crowd into the small, dim space to hear the nightly Jam Session (6:00 to 9:00 PM), followed by the later jazz performance (9:30 PM to 2:00 AM). You’ll enjoy the tunes with your drink whether the band plays blues, funk, Latin jazz salsa, or just plain jazz.
Where: 427 Massachusetts Ave, Boston, MA 02118
Club Café $$ — A gay-friendly restaurant and series of lounges where guests can drink and dance, watch cult movies, play trivia, or listen to some of the city’s best cabaret performers, performing artists, musicians, and comedians.
Where: 209 Columbus Ave, Boston, MA 02116
J.J. Foley’s Bar & Grille $ — A family-owned joint that brings the city’s Irish heritage alive. This working class bar serves various ales and lagers along with traditional pub food, like corned beef with Swiss and mustard on a bulky roll.
Where: 21 Kingston St, Boston, MA 02111
Venu $$$ — A glitzy, subterranean nightclub with VIP tables that circle a spot-lit dance floor. Come ready for bottle service and regular live DJ performances.
Where: 100 Warrenton St, Boston, MA 02116
Ward 8 $$ — A welcoming gastropub with wood floors, metal chairs, brick walls, and subway tiles. Grab a seat at the long white marble bar and order the namesake cocktail, a historic bourbon-based number, or any of the other perfectly made libations. If the munchies hit, turn to the Late Nite Menu for spicy duck wings, cheesy bacon fries, and pork belly ramen.
Where: 90 N Washington St, Boston, MA 02114
Battery Lounge $$$ — Located on the lower level of Battery Wharf Hotel, Battery Lounge overlooks Boston Harbor. In the warmer months, you can enjoy drinks outside on the terrace around a fire pit, where you also can order a S’mores Deluxe for two complete with marshmallows, peanut butter cups, milk chocolate squares, strawberries, graham crackers and caramel donuts.
Where: 3 Battery Wharf Boston, MA 02109
Boston Beer Works $$ — Across from Fenway Park you’ll find the original Boston Beer Works in all its rustic glory with exposed tanks, copper kettles, and pipes. In addition to the core list of nearly a dozen beers, the drink menu offers seasonal beers and options made by guest brewery. Non-beer drinkers will appreciate the thoughtful selection of cocktails, wines, and hard cider.
Where: 61 Brookline AveBoston, MA 02215
The Bleacher Bar $$ — If you can’t score tickets to a Red Sox game, the next best thing is stopping by The Bleacher Bar for a cold one. Situated under the bleachers of Fenway Park, you can spy some of the action from a gigantic picture window that overlooks center field.
Where: 82A Lansdowne St, Boston, MA 02215
Trillium Brewing Company $$ — With a first floor taproom, second floor restaurant, and third floor roof terrace, Trillium has it all. The brand is beloved among hop heads who geek out at the massive list of sudsy offerings updated daily with poetic names like “Just add Noodles Rice Lager” (made with rye and rice to mimic ramen).
Where: 50 Thomson Pl, Boston, MA 02210
Kings Dining and Entertainment $$ — Brush up your gaming skills amidst the kitschy décor. This spot sets the tone for some good old fashioned fun like bowling, arcade games, and foosball. Sip classic cocktails while you play, then, if you’re hankering for a post-prandial nibble, order comfort food like the cheese-, meat-, and egg-topped sweet potato waffle fries. Don’t miss the adult version of soda fountain favorites, including boozy milkshakes.
Where: 60 Seaport Blvd, Boston, MA 02210
DRINK $$$ — In this simple wood-and-brick, semi-subterranean enclave, you can experience the art of the custom craft cocktail. Share with the bartender which spirits and flavors you like, and they will create a bespoke drink using top-shelf spirits, craft ice, and pretty glassware. Nibbles are available and range from deviled eggs to Guinness steak and cheddar pie.
Where: 348 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210
Hopsters Brewing Company $$ — To taste how Boston’s craft beer scene has exploded in the last couple of years, pop into where you can craft your own suds (it takes about two hours) or simply enjoy sampling any of the 20 or so Hopsters beers on tap. The beer-friendly food menu offers nachos, salads, flatbread pizzas, burgers, and sandwiches, including a lobster grilled cheese served with a cup of chowder.
Where: 51 Sleeper St, Boston, MA 02210