If you’re unfamiliar with the name Jackson Cannon, allow me to welcome you to the first article about the Boston bar scene you’ve ever read.
The long-time creative force behind the bar at Eastern Standard and Island Creek Oyster Bar — both widely recognized as a couple of the best cocktail bars in the city and beyond — Cannon has finally struck out on his own. He's partnered with Garrett Harker, owner of the aforementioned two, on his own uniquely realized vision. Unlike most other bars in the city, The Hawthorne — also located, conveniently, in the Commonwealth Hotel — aims to put the focus directly on the experience of the cocktail.
No surprise, given Cannon’s boozy pedigree, that he’s enlisted top-shelf bartending talent to execute the menu of neo-classics, long lost treasures and creative originals. But at this bar and lounge, form rivals function. The former Foundation Lounge space has been transformed into a residential-style getaway, with intimate lounge seating, shelves of knickknacks and a separate living room-style setup with inviting, backless couches all in muted grays, whites and blacks. The overall effect is like the set of a Wes Anderson film apartment with the contrast turned way up.
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Tuning up the comfort level was important for his concept, Cannon explains.
“The places that I go in this country to get the best cocktails, they don’t deliver physical comfort as a priority in any way,” he says. “That was something that I wanted to have some focus on — but I also thought that if I wasn’t going to have the requisite televisions, etc., I should have an emotionally and/or intellectually stimulating environment. ... Early on, I was thinking about drawing inspiration from the idea of entertaining in an urban apartment, curating cocktail parties.”
And to drink
Just as important as the comfort, says Cannon, was having a very functional bar to execute drinks on the highest level, which they do. The Phil Collins, a play on a Tom Collins made with cucumber-infused vodka, yellow chartreuse, cranberry bitters, lime juice and soda water — which he calls “refreshing, complex, but welcoming to the uninitiated in that it does have the v-word” — is on the more approachable side. Others, like the Dutch Oven, will appeal more to the mixology-focused.