For a long time Downtown Crossing has always been "five years away" from being a hot destination. When I opened a bar on Bromfield Street almost 17 years ago, the Suffolk Law School building was a hole in the ground and Hotel Nine Zero was a pile of rubble from a restaurant that had closed a decade before. Just as things were improving, 9/11 dramatically impacted the economy everywhere and our area, of course, was no exception. Filene's closed. Many retail businesses did the same.
But there's light at the end of the tunnel. I've always said (to anyone who might care to listen) that restaurants and bars just might be the savior of downtown. Recently, Stoddard's and JM Curley on Temple Street have entered that void. Now, go a bit further up Tremont Street and turn left. Enter Carrie Nation at 11 Beacon, running with the baton of renewed area nightlife interest, particularly in regard to cocktails. The space is very big and beautiful too, which is a little deceptive from the exterior. But to me, that's what is great about old downtown, old facades, businesses tucked around a corner just off a main street.
Industry veteran Brian Mantz heads the bar program, and he's like a kid in a candy store. "Josh, this is a dream job, I get to do my hobby for a living!" is one of the first things he says to me when I walked in interrupting his lunch (working a double) the other day. His enthusiasm is clear by a great cocktail list and a very extensive American whiskey selection. His side job clearly helps- he is a brand ambassador for one of my favorites- Angel's Envy Bourbon. As we sat together looking over his list, I suggested he maybe make a drink or two. He pulled out classics, much like the space and overall restaurant itself.
He does an Old Fashioned Old Fashioned, Bulleit rye, sugar, bitters. If you like, he puts an orange and a cherry on the glass. His Sazerac is very old school too, not made with rye, but Cognac. Hennessy, Pechaud bitters, Demerara simple syrup, Herbsaint rinse. However there's also new: try The Million Dollar Cup, Hendrick's gin, lemon, Chambord, egg, raspberries and bubbles.
Carrie Nation is named, of course, after the temperance movement crusader, who would enter a drinking establishment with a hatchet, creating obvious havoc. No ghost of her here (although she may be rolling over in her grave); the front room is large and beautiful, with a nod to the past- red leather, turn of the century fixtures. Even more my speed, check out the dark and well appointed back room, complete with two old billiard tables- you'll fell like it's 1915 and Carrie herself might bust in at any moment. Fear not though, Brian will just fix you another cocktail.
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