Stop drinking vodka soda: top spots for craft cocktails in Boston

Boston gets a bad rap when it comes to culture. Known for math smarts and old-school Puritan laws, the city hasn't always embraced fun or culinary creativity. Thankfully, the region has grown beyond its colonial stereotypes and has a vibrant craft cocktail scene that rivals any large metro area on the East Coast. Mixologists offer up small-batch booze, housemade infusions and plenty of judgment about your order. Here's where the in-the-know crowd chooses to belly-up to the bar.

Alibi Bar + Lounge
It used to be the city's most infamous jail, now it's an upscale hotel with restaurant and bar. Alibi is located in the former drunk tank of the Charles Street Jail, complete with the original iron bars and brickwork. The cocktail menu, however, won't leave you feeling boxed in as it offers a wide range of classic cocktails and creative concoctions with a wink to Boston's past.

Brick + Mortar
Homemade New Orleans Sazerac CocktailGetty Images/iStockphoto

Look for Central Kitchen, then look left. See that unmarked door? That's the entrance to Brick + Mortar. Climb the dark stairway and enter the tangled crowd of cocktail aficionados and hipsters sipping beer from the bottle. Choose from heady bourbon blends to classic absinthe infused drinks. There's also a small food menu with a modern twist on bar favorites, including small plates and sandwiches.

Don't make the rookie mistake of asking for a cocktail menu at Drink; there isn't one. Instead, the bartender (likely tattooed and/or sporting a mustache) will chat you up and create a custom drink based on your preferences, the weather, and maybe even their mood. It's one of the top destinations for beverages in the city and gets crowded. Expect to mingle with a melange of folks from the startup crowd in hoodies, to investment bankers and couples swooning on dates.

Oak + Rowan
Pike caviar with black bread on a plateGetty Images/iStockphoto

Put on your fancy clothes (in Boston that means whatever you've got that's nicer than a North Face puffy vest and pleated khakis) and take a seat at plush velvet chairs at Oak + Rowan. This is where to go to experience the good stuff, from farm to table eats and a caviar bar, to a cocktail cart offering table-side service. If the bar is more your style, ask your bartender to custom mix a cocktail based on seasonal offerings that showcase New England's flavors including local honey, herbs and produce.

Ward 8
In an area of the city better known for cheap beers after a Bruins or Celtics game, Ward 8 is a welcome retreat for those with more premium tastes. Take a seat at the massive u-shaped bar and sip seasonal cocktails served in vintage glasses the owners collected from yard sales. The list is extensive, and sorted by type of liquor, from gin and vodka to whiskey, amaro, agave and Cachaça. If dinner or brunch is more your speed, there's a large menu and seating area adjacent to the bar.

Kristin Amico is a Boston-based food, travel and culture writer attempting to make her way around the globe using frequent flier miles. Follow her misadventures on Instagram or her food blog 5 Things To Eat.