Bar to Bar Through Beantown
“Corner Tavern is the perfect little bar that doesn’t try too hard; this tucked away treasure offers great service, cheap beer, and an altogether good experience.”
Neighborhood: Back Bay
Address: 421 Marlborough Street
Date of Visit: Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Bartender Name: Adam
Corner Tavern is the perfect little bar that doesn’t try too hard. Set in the basement on the corner of Marlborough Street and Mass Ave., this tucked away treasure offers great service, cheap beer, and an altogether good experience. Fairly lively with what seems to be a neighborhood bunch (including Berklee students enjoying PBRs), the dark wood bar is fairly open when you consider the shape of the entire establishment, and the low-lighting perfectly accents the old-school prints on the wall opposite the bar. The wall behind the bar has a ledge to place your drinks on as well as a few stools, but is a great place for standing with a large party. Corner Tavern has a pretty good beer menu with a “Beer of the Month” that we also tried, which was a great brew from California. The bartenders explained that these regularly change and were quick to offer a sample and an explanation of the flavor profile and brewery itself. They also have half priced appetizers during happy hour and brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Valerie was entertained with the Sam Adams coasters that you can fold into present shapes as well as this solitaire peg game (she beat Eric by having only two pegs remaining versus his three).
Valerie’s Drink of Choice: Lemon Basil Martini
Ingredients: Citron, Lemon, Basil, Simple Syrup
Review: The Lemon-Basil martini reminded me of the delicious Lemon Drop that I had at Sonsie which was definitely not a bad thing! The lemon flavor started from the moment the bartender poured the drink as it was extremely aromatic. In place of the sweet/sugary taste of the lemon drop, this martini’s lemon flavor was balanced out with a crisp and fresh twist with the basil. The basil wasn’t overwhelming but was definitely present in each sip making the drink light and refreshing.
Eric’s Drink of Choice: Pisco Sour
Ingredients: Pomace Brandy, fresh juices
Review: Okay so first of all I totally butchered the name of this drink when ordering. I’m sitting there, all nonchalant and whatnot, and I order a “PISS-CO sour”…ha, amateur. The knowledgeable bartender quickly (and quietly…thanks Adam) repeated my order back to me, “You’d like a “PEE-sco sour?” Perfect. I later found out that the cocktail is South American in origin and that Peru has had a National Pisco Sour Day since 2003, which is celebrated on the first weekend of February (do I see a Pisco Sour event coming up?), although the actual country that “created” the drink is debatable, as Chile has staked a claim to the honor as well.
Upon getting the beverage, I was immediately impressed with the smooth and creamy texture Adam was able to create in the cocktail. I was worried that he was going to over shake, because he was really, REALLY aggressive with the shaker; however, without the vigor used to mix the beverage, it would be without the delicious froth that truly made it wonderful. I also quickly noticed that bitters were essentially used as a garnish, and, whether intentional or not, the bitters made a smiley face on top of the drink…classy. If it wasn’t intentional, it should be on every Pisco Sour ever created because it was just awesome.
The flavor profile of the libation initially worried me. Pisco itself is a grape brandy, which sounds amazing until I begin to think about the fact that the only other time I’ve had brandy it was in a cup of tea. I didn’t know this at the time, but a traditional Pisco also contains an egg white. I didn’t see any eggs being cracked, but with the perfect Pisco foam on top of the cocktail I imagine there was a bit of egg white used. My worry was completely unheralded, though, as the citrus flavor masked the brandy burn just perfectly, and the texture was almost too good to be true. I plan to enjoy many more Pisco Sours in the future, but unfortunately, this is the only time I’ve noticed one on a menu! Please, if you’re considering opening a bar or restaurant and have knowledgeable mixologists at your disposal, encourage that this be added to the cocktail menu!
Wine Prices: Eight white wines and eight red wines are available by the glass for $6.75 to $12 per glass and $19 to $40 a bottle. Three sparkling wines are also on the menu.
Beer Prices: There are five beers on tap, one of which changes on a rotating basis (it was Anderson Valley’s Winter Solstice when we were there which was delicious!). All of the draft beers are %5.25 to $6.25. They also have a selection of seventeen bottled beers, for $4.25 to $12 each.
Other: Corner Tavern has a drink menu consisting of six “Corner Cocktails” and and four martinis. The cocktails are all $8 or $9 and include options such as a Rum Punch and Orange Julep. All of the martinis are $10. Along with the Lemon-Basil there is an Espresso martini, the French 75, and a Pomegranate martini.