You can buy beer by the pint at a good price in Dochester, Boston's biggest and best neighborhood, but what about cocktails? Can a sophisticated palate purchase a fine sipping drink in the Dot?
Early actuarial calculations based on first hand experience point toward the negative. Dorchester is good at some things. It rests on a bedrock of natural strengths that can be dependably quarried to everyone's satisfaction. Subtlety is not one of Dorchester's stengths, however. This is a part of Boston more attuned to the rhythms of the pile driver and the staple gun rather than a paring knife or muddler.
I had a Dottini at Ashmont Grill last week. It is a sweet concoction along classic martini lines. Instead of gin and vermouth and an olive, it tarts up the recipe with some kind of sweet liqour, some other liquid and a garnish to replace the salty, green olive. My Dottini had three candies resting at the bottom of the glass. The candies? Ha-ha! Dots. The gummi confections didn't absorb a bit of alcholic flavor and really didn't dissolve enough to add any nuance to the sipping experience. It was a good enough drink, and Heaven knows Dorchester is all sweetness and light, so the symbolic, "I'm drinking a Dottini in Dorchester" joke wasn't lost on me. I don't really have a sweet tooth, so this one-note beverage didn't hook me. I do think, however, that a giant Dot candy statue should be cast in bronze in the parking lot opposite the giant Clapp pear that resides on the southern edge of Edward Everett Square.
I did land around dead center of Downtown Crossing this week at the Marliave. My first impression is leaving me wondering why it took so long to stop in. It is old fashioned inside and I am often downtown switching from Green or Orange Line to Red, so the pop-in convenience is an added plus. What really won me over at the Marliave though, was its cocktail menu. They may have beer on tap but I didn't notice. They are selling hard liquor attractively packaged, and the menu is a joy to peruse. I ordered the Molasses Flood.
Rum, molasses, lime, bitters, a hint of seltzer. It isn't a strong drink but its a good one. It's really good. Anything that marries molasses with bitters has to be good to sip. It's named after the tragic North End Molasses Flood of 1919. There are better ways to commemorate tragedy than to name drinks after them, but at least this cocktail ignites some historical lesson-themed conversations around the bar rather than the usual sports-obsessed debates you find in Dot dives.
There is no reason Dorchester cannot inspire a bit of sweet and bitter mixology. These two sensations brew in Dorchester every day of the year around the clock with the cream usually rising to the top. Dorchester is a place of champagne tastes on a draft budget, though. As gentrification looms, we may find more Marliaves than Saint's Diners in the Dot. Heaven forbid the day the Saints go marching out.