Coolidge Corner has long been one of Boston’s unique neighborhoods. So unique, in fact, that it mostly ignored that whole “bar scene” trend that a lot people seem to be into. For a long while, the bro-y Coolidge Corner Clubhouse (your standard Boston sports bar) constituted what passed for a bar scene.
This has changed for the better in recent years, although not as much as residents might like. One worthwhile addition, however, is celebrating its first anniversary this month. That calls for a whiskey and a beer. Many dozens, actually — which you’ll find at Hops N Scotch.
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As you might surmise from the name, the focus of the bar side of the operation here is on beer (40 taps and 45 bottles on the menu) and whiskey (about 140 varieties on offer).
The space reflects both sides of that coin, with a quieter dining room buffeted by a lively bar. It’s a cross between a collegiate beer bar and the sort of dark, mature space in which one might imagine drinking scotch. Given its proximity to so many nearby colleges, the crowd can lean toward the younger side — particularly on weekends — but not necessarily in an off-putting way.
Bar manager Adrienne Griffith says they’ve developed a strong following for their beer cultivation, with regulars keeping abreast of what’s new on tap and in bottle through their social media presence.
“People are really geeky with the beers,” she says. “It’s fantastic, the funkier the better.” Among her recent favorites is the Jack’s Abby 2nd Anniversary, a super hoppy, bitter Double IPL. For guests who can’t decide, Hops N Scotch offers flights of both beers and whiskeys — the latter option is particularly economical.
Cocktails focus on whiskey, as well as the standard bitters and herbaceous liqueurs, although Griffith tries to make the menu approachable for drinkers of all types of spirits, she says. The best include the Whiskey Icarus, made with Four Roses bourbon, Fernet branca, tamarind simple syrup and lime juice.
The cocktails, like everything else here, are on the affordable side (most are $10). That affordability includes much of the whiskey list. One line Griffith recommends is from Compass Box Whisky, artisan scotch makers who experiment with unique ways to age whiskeys, transferring them from different styles of barrels, and so on, during the aging process.
It’s all about “getting people to try more fun stuff,” she says.