When it comes to downtown bars, most downtown spots tend to fit on either end of the extreme on the classiness spectrum – either hoity-toity or sloppy and fratty. But there are a rare few that split the difference pretty evenly.
Warehouse Bar & Grille
Warehouse Bar & Grille on Bond St. is sleek and handsome enough to appeal to the after work crowd with an expense account, but not so much so that people looking to watch a game and drink canned beer will feel out of place. The fact that most of the drinks on the menu are named after Dave Mathews Band songs is a pretty good shorthand for summing up its experimental – but not too much so – appeal. 40 Broad St., 617-936-4383 www.thewarehouseboston.com
As you may have noticed by all of the shimmering new highrises in the area, real estate is pretty expensive around the Boston Common and Theater District area. It's a minor miracle that a place like The Tam can exist anywhere, never mind amidst such fancy digs. The decades old dive bar is a throwback to the area's bad old days, with decor that hasn't changed since before you were born, and a no-nonsense, affectless appeal, which is a good thing for all the students nearby who probably can't afford to drink anywhere else. 222 Tremont St., 617-482-9182
Chinatown has always been a great place to visit for the most authentic food served in the most depressingly appointed restaurants. That changed somewhat a couple years back when Shojo opened. The slick, minimalist space not only seems like it belongs in Cambridge, its cocktail selection is straight from the city's best mixology spots. Think classic cocktails spiced up with Asian touches, sake going toe to toe with mezcal and amaro. Maybe not all at once, although that sounds pretty good, come to think of it. 9 Tyler St., 617-423-7888 www.shojoboston.com
Savvor Restaurant and Lounge
There aren't too many options in the South Station vicinity that are worth traveling from outside the area to visit, but Savvor upped the game when it opened earlier this year. Taking over the old District nightclub space, it's like a southern restaurant pop up in the middle of a club, with two small bars for drinking inventive, fun cocktails like the Flip n Stout, made with Appleton 12 year rum, honey, lemon, egg white, and Slumbrew Porter. 180 Lincoln St., 857-250-2165 www.savvorbostonlounge.com
Given the size of the exceptionally handsome, retro-feeling space here you wouldn't expect them to be able to put out such spirits-focused and classics-minded cocktails, but cosidering the entire theme of the space – a sort of homage to the age of Prohibition, and the namesake prohibitionist at the heart of the movement – they don't really have a choice. The place will change depending on when you go, feeling either like a club, or a quiet space for a romantic dinner and drinks, but as long as they keep slinging out era-appropriate cocktails like the Pink Lady, Bee's Knees, and Between the Sheets that's good enough for me. Carrie Nation herself would definitely not approve. 11 Beacon St., 617-227-3100 www.carrienationcocktailclub.com