Bar to Bar Through Beantown
“Charlesmark isn’t your standard hotel bar, that’s for sure – boasting a comprehensive drink menu as well as an eccentric food menu with Asian flair, we were pretty impressed with the trendy establishment.”
Neighborhood: Back Bay
Address: 655 Boylston Street
Date of Visit: Friday, December 2 , 2011
Bartender Name: “Bar B”
We visited Charlesmark as part of our inaugural Martini Stroll (a classy version of a pub crawl – can I copyright the name?). In honor of Martini Week (Sponsored by Bombay Gin), a number of bars were donating a portion of each signature drink’s profits to charity; Charlesmark choosing the Boston Area Church league. What’s better than drinking for a good cause!
Charlesmark isn’t your standard hotel bar, that’s for sure. Upon walking in, we wouldn’t have the slightest impression that this bar served as a venue aimed at pleasing the guests that would be sleeping upstairs. Boasting a comprehensive drink menu as well as an eccentric food menu with Asian and fusion flair, we were pretty impressed with the trendy establishment. The music was catchy and loud, but not so much so that you would be prevented from enjoying a conversation closer to the door; however, the bar seating along the wall mirroring the bar itself made for a tight squeeze and awkward conversation among our group of Strollers. The club mix was a bit awkward for the scene…but hey, it was Friday. The bar also boasts some private space available for parties (Apple was having a holiday party when we went in…alas, owning an iPhone doesn’t make you privy to their galas). On a side note, unlike many of the bars we’ve visited, the candles used here are real, so please take care to not place your belongings or heavily hair sprayed hair too close!
Charlesmark also hosts monthly wine tastings, many of which take place on their open air patio directly on Boylston Street in the warmer months. We’d like to visit for one of these if we have a chance and don’t get distracted by tasty cocktails elsewhere!
Valerie’s Drink of Choice: Smore’tini
Ingredients: Svedka Vanilla vodka, Godiva Chocolate Liqueur, Dark Cacao Liqueur, graham cracker crust rim and a dollop of whipped cream
Review: I’m not quite sure I’ve ever seen a “dollop” of whipped cream quite that large (insert inappropriate joke here if you wish), but it was literally falling off the glass. Eric said that when the bartender was making the drink that he actually put whipped cream in the shaker as well…woah nelly. Unlike my time at Union Street Bar & Grill, this drink actually had a graham cracker crust and my was it tasty. The smore’tini was definitely a throwback to my days as a Girl Scout, only much more fun with the addition of alcohol! It was sweet and almost smoky in a sense, with quite a big kick. My only complaint is that the chocolate flavor was a bit overwhelming, so much so that once the “dollop” of cream was gone, it tasted more like a chocolate covered graham cracker (which is still good), but lost the unique s’more taste. Perhaps instead of putting so much actual whipped cream in the drink it would be better with a splash or two of Smirnoff’s Whipped Cream of Fluffed Marshmallow vodka.
Eric’s Drink of Choice: Serranos go Sapphire
Ingredients: Bombay Sapphire Gin, Cpintreau, Serrano’d simple syrup, fresh lemon, lemon wheel, sliced serranos
Review: Woo! Spicy! But what does one expect when ordering a cocktail with a pepper as the featured non-alcohol ingredient! The Serranos Go Sapphire was the signature drink being featured forMartini Week, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Boston Area Church league, so I took the heat and drank for charity. The peppers completely masked the gin, but paired well with the citrus flavor imparted by the fresh lemon. Sliced serranos adorned the rim, but the real heat came from the simple syrup that had been infused with Serrano. If I had to compare the flavor to something more generic, I would have to say the taste reminded me of the Red Hots you’d get at a movie theater, although the martini’s delicious taste lingered longer on the palate. This unique cocktail missed 5 cheers for one reason alone…a boring lemon slice was not appropriate for this bad boy. Next time, either use a full lemon wheel as advertised or perhaps put a little pepper as a garnish so the consumer can show off that they can take the heat!
Introducing our newest Guest Blogger….Greg B.!!!
Greg’s Drink of Choice: Boylston Street Side Car
Ingredients: Hennessy VS, Cointreau, lemon simple syrup, sugared rim
Review: I don’t remember when I started drinking sidecars (a friend once called it an “old man drink”), but I always thought it had a very interesting taste to it. I read once on the Internet that it was one of the six drinks every bartender should know how to make, that it is that much of a “standard.” But as I have made the rounds in this great city of ours, I have learned a few things — one, most bartenders don’t even know what a sidecar is, unless it’s on the cocktail menu (I can never remember if it’s equal parts brandy and Cointreau, or is it cognac, and wait — is it lemon juice? or just a slice of lemon? I don’t know. BUT I’M NOT A BARTENDER. Isn’t that one of the six drinks every bartender should know how to make??); and two — there’s only two places in Boston I’ve been that know what they’re doing when it comes to this sidecar business — Club Cafe, and Flash’s. I was hoping the Charlesmark would be added to that list, but regrettably, that cannot happen. First of all, as I mentioned, I don’t always know the right ratio of all the ingredients in a sidecar, but what I do know is, it has a sugar rim. My drink? No sugar rim. Seriously? We’re already starting off on a bad foot here. Eric looked over at me at one point and said “I can see chunks of ice floating in your drink.” And after standing at the bar for about 15 minutes to get it, and at a price of $13… overall, it was not worth the wait. But little did I know that it would be heaven compared to what came next….In conclusion, if you want a good sidecar in Boston, you’re probably going to need to listen to a Mariah Carey dance remix in order to get it.
Wine Prices: Seven white wines and seven red wines available all for $9 a glass or $30 a bottle (love this idea! makes things so easy). The menu also says to ask about their monthly wine specials. Five champagnes also offered, three by both the glass and bottle, and two just by the bottle.
Beer Prices: Five beers on draft for $5.50 each. Eleven beers by the bottle for $5.50 each as well.
Other: The Charlesmark Lounge boasts ten signature martinis for $12 or $13 each, including the Dancing Bear Martini (which comes with a skewer loaded with gummy bears), and the Pineapple Pop. They also offer six classic martinis for the same price, including the Side Car above as well as a Manhattan and an Espresso Martini. Three signature cocktails are offered – Bloody Mary, Harbor Island Iced Tea, and Perfect Storm – for $10 or $11. Finally, they have a seasonal cocktail menu. The drinks listed here looked like they were from spring (it was warm out, but not that warm) as they included a Blueberry Lemonade, a Tropical martini, Sangria, as well as a selection of Spring wine and beers….if only we really could have ordered a Sam Summer!
A selection of the cocktail menu is available online, here.