Friday, July 31, 2009

The big game? customers

Anyone used to wandering into the old Champions sports bar in the Boston Marriott Copley Place may have been surprised to stumble upon the redesigned Champions this month. In fact, with the new bar and restaurant’s focus on clean, almost antiseptic design, they might feel as if they’ve wandered onto the deck of the Starship Enterprise.

With 40-plus flat screen televisions - including an impressive wraparound display behind the bar mounted on a wall of changing LED lights, and a towering 12-by-24-foot projection screen - there’s certainly a lot to absorb visually. That’s great news for people looking to take in a game or two, or 10.

It’s all part of the ever-increasing stakes in the sports bar arms race. But it’s not just the size of your arsenal, says Jack Rutigliano, director of food and beverage at the hotel. It’s how you employ it. “The layout plays a big part in what you’re gonna see and where you’re going to be seated,’’ he says. “Provided you can get enough viewing in each area of your restaurant or bar you can be successful. We have 40 screens here. CBS Scene has 145, which sounds impressive. But you’re only going to be able to see a few at a time anyway.’’

Apparently he’s never hung out with us during March Madness or on an NFL Sunday. Speaking of which, the private dining rooms here, with their numerous customizable screens, might make for a good afternoon for a group of sports-crazed friends. Bachelor party, anyone?

But back to that big screen. It’s really quite, uh, big.

“I think for us, the big screen . . . kind of lures people in,’’ Rutigliano says. “It invites them into our new environment. But once you’re inside you’re really watching something else anyway in most cases.’’ It is pretty hard to avoid. We saw a group of tourists gawking as we came in.

The difference between the new Champions and the old one is, in short, like making the jump from standard TV to HD digital. “Certainly it’s got a more contemporary feel to it,’’ says Rutigliano. “It’s not memorabilia-based anymore. Champions in its original day had baseball cards and such on the bar top. The new one is really more about technology and food and service.’’

The food, no surprise, takes the sports angle and runs with it. “The menu is approachable, people can relate to it,’’ says chef Michael Panasuk. We had no trouble approaching homespun dishes like his mother’s meatball recipe or the at-the-park options like giant soft pretzels served with a Sam Adams sharp cheddar cheese fondue and a foot long, half-pound Fenway Dog.

Then there’s beer, the staple of any sports bar. “We’ve got 36 beers on tap, so we want to satisfy all the palates out there,’’ says manager Wayne Murphy. A lot of them are New England-based like Buzzards Bay Pilsner, Mayflower Pale Ale, Sebago Boathouse Brown Ale, and Wachusett Green Monsta Ale (all $5.75).

“As people learn about it, I think it’s gonna be the place to be seen,’’ says Rutigliano, of Champions’ people-watching potential. In the meantime, there’s plenty of sports-watching to be done.

Champions at the Boston Marriott Copley Place, 110 Huntington Ave., Boston. 617-236-5800. www.copleymarriott.com

Boston Globe

Monday, July 27, 2009

Rise Against

Political venom not in short supply for veteran punk band

In a shocking turn of events, Green Day is the biggest band in the world and populist punk is, well, populist again. Although for some the idea of taking notes on rebellion from aging millionaires seems a little contradictory. In the meantime, one might instead turn to the seething agitprop punk of Chicago’s Rise Against.

On the their most recent record, 2008’s “Appeal to Reason,” the band tackles the working class condition and our society’s passive reception of political information through media on songs like “Re-Education (Through Labor)” and “The Strength To Go On.”

The songs’ hard-charging energy and gritty indignation are tempered by a tuneful accessibility that have widely broadened their potential mass appeal. The most poignant track is a melancholy acoustic number called “Hero Of War” based on stories they heard from Rise Against fans serving in the military in Iraq. In short, the band, who are also strict vegetarians and active in the animal rights movement among other progressive concerns, has given the workers of the world something to actually unite around, even if it’s just the invigorating power of their punk anthems.

The catchy songs only help the political pill go down easier, says bassist Joe Principe.

“I think as a general rule the music is what grabs people first and the message kind of seeps in as people listen to the song,” he says. “I think that’s why we always went more the melodic way. Even when we were starting as a band, we all loved hardcore music, but we liked the melody involved. If it’s kind of message first with aggressive music it tends to turn people off right away.”

It’s an approach that he learned from listening to influential political punks Bad Religion.

“Growing up I loved Bad Religion so much,” says Principe. “At first I didn’t get what Greg Graffin was singing about, then it started seeping in and I was like ‘Wow these are amazing lyrics.’”

No doubt there are thousands of kids out there saying the same about his own band right now. Principe says he relishes being somewhere in the middle of the popularity pack. Not too big to rise and flame out fast, but just enough to carry over a devoted fan base over their 10-year run and still be able to pick up new fans along the way.

“It’s just a good feeling to know that our music seems to stand the test of time,” he says. “That we’re not the flavor of the month.”

As long as there are social and political concerns to rise against it’s unlikely this type of punk will ever go out of style.

New York Metro

Friday, July 24, 2009

Blue Notes change the tune

It feels odd to call a restaurant that’s been around for 15 years and received its fair share of accolades one of Cambridge’s best-kept secrets, but we’re just not hearing enough love for The Blue Room lately. Maybe it’s the tucked-away Kendall Square locale, or maybe we’re just hitting it on off hours. For years it’s been one of our mainstays for post-movie dining, and it has one of the outstanding brunches in the area, so we won’t be happy until we see a line out the door every time we stop by.

If we have piqued your curiosity, first dig in at the well-worn wooden bar. It flows around the middle of the dark dining room in a way that calls to mind the texture and movement of an old vinyl record. You’ll be in good hands with the barkeeps. Mainstay Reggie St. Paul has been there for the entire run and brings a been-there, seen-that, made-the-drink wisdom and hospitality to the bar. Colleague Mary Graham adds the classic-cocktail revival aesthetic and recipe knowledge that most of the best bars have been wise to incorporate into their game plan of late.

The fruit of that partnership, literally and figuratively speaking, jumped out at us in the form of the Caipiruva (red and green grapes muddled with sugar and cachaça, $8). This “Brazilian classic - like Pelé,’’ as one of the many cheeky menu descriptions reads, adds a pulpy texture from the grapes to this variation on the widely popular caipirinha.

“This one isn’t for toddlers,’’ Graham said, presenting a cocktail called The Dark Side (Plymouth gin, Erbaluna Barolo Chinato, Peychaud’s bitters, lime, star anise, $10). It’s based on the recipe of the classic cocktail Gin and It (“It’’ meaning Italian, or sweet, vermouth). Here, instead of vermouth, they use a high-quality barolo, stewed with herbs and spices. In combination with the star anise and lime, it allows this cocktail (below right, with the Caipiruva) to behave more like a wine, opening up over time and developing. After letting it sit for a while, we returned to an almost entirely different drink altogether.

Variations on other well-known cocktails like the Pimm’s Cup (Maine Root Lemon Lime soda, Pimm’s No. 1, cucumber, $9) stand out with use of the organic, light, and refreshing bottled soda as opposed to mediocre soda gun sugar water. The Town and Country (sour cherry-infused Old Overholt Rye, $10) is Graham’s take on the Manhattan. Here she infuses the rye with sour cherries for about three weeks before serving, then adds a little French vermouth and a touch of Angostura bitters. The Momisette (pastis, orgeat syrup, sparkling mineral water, $8) is yet another nice option. This one is a good balance of almond sweetness and the licorice of anise. All of these cocktails, like The Blue Room itself, are no doubt familiar to you, and yet you may not be drinking them frequently enough. Perhaps it’s time to stop in and remedy both those problems at once.

The Blue Room, 1 Kendall Square, Cambridge. 617-494-9034. www.theblueroom.net

Boston Globe

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Provincetown Rocks

Boston just up and leaves

Any invading rock armies from other towns looking to conquer Boston might want to muster the troops this week; all our defenses are going to be employed elsewhere. The biggest Boston-centric rock festival of the season is about to kick off. Although, there's one catch: It's not going down in the city. That's either good news or bad, depending how much you enjoy sweating on top of each other in city clubs in humid July.

For those of you with a sunnier outlook, Provincetown Rocks: The Festival! brings pretty much every Boston band worth seeing right now down to the breezy shores of the Cape.

"It's going to be a fun, unique time, in a fun unique, diverse, beautiful town," says organizer Martin Doyle, the longtime Boston rock promoter. "Rock and the beach, baby! Goes great together."

It helps when you've got an immense lineup like this, including The Upper Crust, Freezepop, Taxpayer, The Bon Savants, Cassavetes, The Luxury, The Dogmatics, The Lights Out, Squidda and Gene Dante & The Future Starlets to name a few. DJs Michael Savant, DJ MeLee, Frank White and Knowlton Walsh will be throwing down beats all week as well.

"I don't believe Boston's seen anything like this for a long time," says Christopher Payne-Taylor, another of the event's promoters, "or at least as long as most can remember. It's good for the community, and all that holding-hands bullshit, of course, but even better, it's a good excuse to get out of the city for a night or two. "

"Yeah, I think this is definitely good for the scene," says Taxpayer's Rob Adams. "We are excited to get the chance to see some Boston bands we haven't seen much of, and also looking forward to being able to hang out with friends in bands we see all the time, but this time in a location other than Central Square."

Tiny, from Allston rockers The Thickness, agrees it will be a good chance to catch up on a bunch of bands in one place. "Boston is filled with so many different scenes, it's cool to see what else is out there," he says.

P-town may not know what it's signing on for. "The music scene [in Provincetown] is diverse, yet of course, somewhat dancehall/house oriented," says Payne-Taylor. "The fest will no doubt give the scene a major booster shot, because it's like putting the whole Boston music scene into a suitcase and transporting it to Provincetown for a short summer vacation."

Expect a cool beach vibe, he says. All of the venues, including The Vixen, The Crown and Anchor, Goodtimes Pub, The Squealing Pig, The Old Colony Tap, Bubala's By the Bay and The Governor Bradford, are within walking distance of one another. That should make it easy to skip out on one act that blows and check out the next down the road. Not that any of these bands blow, which is something you can't say on any regular rock night in town.

"Think USA Network's Burn Notice, but much hipper," says Payne-Taylor, which we're guessing is some sort of TV show. "Provincetown is kind of iconic in the integration of its entertainment into the fabric of town life. One is part and parcel of the other, so you can be walking down the street almost like perusing a sonic smorgasbord, tasting some of this, some of that, going in and out of one or another of the clubs to create one of the most exciting listening experiences imaginable."


Weekly Dig


PROVINCETOWN ROCKS:

THE FESTIVAL!

WED 7.22.09-SUN 7.26.09

VARIOUS VENUES

$20-$30 VENUE PASS

$50 DAY PASS

$100 WEEK PASS

PROVINCETOWNROCKS.COM

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Most Serene Republic

The Most Serene Republic ...And the Ever Expanding Universe
Arts & Crafts

Essential: “Bubble Reputation 1”

By now it'd be more newsworthy to come across an indie band that isn't somehow descended from the celestial orbit of the omnipresent Broken Social Scene hive mind. This fellow Canadian septet share more than a few concerns with that prematurely seminal group (although no members) including a record label, an expansive, orchestral indie pop aesthetic and, one suspects, similar seating arrangement issues in the van. On this, their third full length, they also employ the production of BSS veteran David Newfield. There's certainly a lot here to produce: hazy electronics, busy drum patterns, triumphant horns, stabbing strings, co-ed vocal interplay, piano, banjo and all all manner of bells and whistles (sometimes literally) focused in harmony then dispersing like sunlight through a cloud. Instrumental compositions like the eclectically conceptual “Patternicity 1” are interesting diversions, but it's on the hard charging “Don't Hold Back, Feel a Little Longer” where rhythm and airy tonal elements play off one another in steady, galloping contrast, and the breezy, swinging “Vessels of a Donor Look 2” that the band comes closest to pop economy.

Boston Globe

Friday, July 17, 2009

3OH!3

Anyone who's spent time in the trenches at one of those top 40 radio station pop festivals that come around every summer know that surprises on stage are few and far between. But once every blue moon you get to witness the emergence of an exciting act that somehow makes the monotony of all those boastful dudes yelling into the microphone for hours seem worth the wait. That's what happened this season with 3OH!3, a group whose high energy stage show and electro dance party / tongue in cheek hip hop hybrid reinvent the two dudes yelling into a microphone blueprint altogether.

Take most hip hop or scenester dance acts outside of the club and they tend to wilt under the enormity of the crowd. Not the case with this Colorado bred duo performing on the Warped Tour this summer. If anything their thumping club beats, exuberant chorus hooks and dirty rap drawl on tracks like the irresistible “Don't Trust Me” are capable of getting just as big as they have to be.

Playing the big crowds is something that's relatively new to them, says one half of the duo Sean Foreman. They're mostly used to club shows. But since a spot on last summer's Warped, the crowds have gotten exponentially bigger. So how do they translate that club vibe to the outdoor stage? “It's our outlet for all the energy we build up,” says Foreman. “We just kind of go crazy and it makes things larger than life when we're spazzing out of control and trying to dance on stage.”

The dancing, surprisingly enough, is pretty key. Rudimentary as it is. Whether or not it's true, the group actually looks like they're having the party of their life on stage, and that type of fun is infectious. “The days of the rock star are dead,” says Foreman. “You have to play to the crowd, and be one with them, cause they feed off the energy.” The growling hooky hip hop of songs “Holler Til You Pass out” just wouldn't work if they weren't swinging for the fences.

“We go to bed a lot of nights and we're just drained,” says Foreman.

That's usually what happens after a great party.

Metro

Barcode: Ice Cream Floats

Floating some new ideas

We went to two weddings in a row this past week, so the old Bible standard about putting away childish things when you become an adult has been on our mind. Turns out we didn’t exactly take that advice to heart though, because we also spent the week trying to relive our childhood with a series of root beer float inspired dessert cocktails at bars around the city.

For a lot of people the root beer float is a symbol of childhood. But a quick way to dilute that innocence is with a sturdy shot of alcohol. That’s what they’ve done at Whiskey’s Steakhouse with their Three Olives Root Beer Float (Three Olives Root Beer Vodka, IBC Root Beer, vanilla ice cream, $7). Served in a tall sundae glass with a giant straw, it’s overflowing with bubbles, as if it were served by an old-time soda jerk. Ignore the suspicious looks from the beer-drinking Red Sox fans crowded around the bar, however.

The idea for the adult float came when they got a shipment of the flavored vodka, says manager Maureen Browne. “We can’t really use it for anything else,’’ she says. “No one gets a root beer and tonic.’’ Perhaps not, but maybe they should. We found the flavored vodka reasonably drinkable on its own.

Over at the recently opened The Lansdowne Pub, they update the concept with their Guinness Float ($5, below). People like to watch the way Guinness falls in the first place, so adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream adds to the pleasing visual cascade. Here the ice cream blends in with the creamy head of the beer. It was hard and slow to melt, so we used a spoon to eat it like dessert. But won’t some Guinness purists consider adulterating their favorite beverage a sin, you might ask?

“Maybe they’d say there’s no bad way to have a Guinness?’’ says the pub’s marketing manager Stephanie Judd. (Boy, she’s good).

Around the corner at Kings, the alcoholic ice cream blends well with the modern bowling alley concept. The Orange Creamsicle (Bacardi Orange, Patron Citronge, orange juice, vanilla ice cream, $9), a frozen, blended cocktail tastes remarkably like the name implies. It’s lighter and a bit easier to drink than some of the other beer-based drinks we tried elsewhere. Although the Beer Float ($6) at Beer Works was clean and crisp as well. You can add a scoop of ice cream to any of their specialty beers here -a nice thick stout makes perfect sense -but we tried the Blueberry Ale. The vanilla scoop added body and a thick foam to the light airy ale, and the floating blueberry garnish gives a tart contrast.

It’s probably no coincidence that all the bars we found serving alcohol floats were practically in the shadow of Fenway, the city’s most hallowed shrine to extended adolescence. At the always reliably inventive Eastern Standard we expected to find a porter float we’d heard about, but it isn’t on the menu anymore. No matter, crack bartender Josh Taylor improvised one for us, whipping up a blend of Cisco Brewers’ the Grey Lady, a Belgian style Witbier, with basil ice cream ($13). The tea and light spice notes of the beer paired well with the herbaceous basil ice cream. Although we might have been able to savor this one more if it didn’t represent the fifth scoop of ice cream we’d eaten in a row. Now that’s something we never got to do as a kid.

Whiskey’s Steakhouse, 885 Boylston St., Boston. 617-262-5551. www.whiskeysboston.com

The Lansdowne Pub, 9 Lansdowne St., Boston. 617-247-1222. www.lansdownepubboston.com

Kings, 50 Dalton St., Boston. 617-266-2695. www.backbaykings.com

Beer Works, 61 Brookline Ave., Boston. 617-536-2337. www.beerworks.net

Eastern Standard, 528 Commonwealth Ave., Boston. 617-532-9100. www.easternstandardboston.com

Boston Globe

Monday, July 13, 2009

God Help the Girl

God Help the Girl

God Help the Girl

Matador

ESSENTIAL “Funny Little Frog’’

If the songwriter of any other band produced a solo collection of narratively linked songs for a hypothetical musical film with an entirely new cast of vocalists, you’d expect quite a departure. With Belle & Sebastian auteur Stuart Murdoch’s latest project, the shift barely registers. Here Murdoch employs a rotating cast of ringers from his Glaswegian orbit, including Neil Hannon of the Divine Comedy, members of B&S, a 45-piece orchestra, and most notably, a variety of newcomers who auditioned through an online competition. The star is Irish singer Catherine Ireton, whose lilting ennui flits seamlessly through Murdoch’s world of yearning urban dreamers confused in equal parts by sex, love, and religion. If most B&S records can be considered indie-pop, short-story collections, you might call this a bildungsroman in shorts. And while the pages of this musical story are dog-eared and familiar, as with any favored paperback, that’s just a testament to its continued readability.

Boston Globe

Sweet spot for travelers

HINGHAM - It’s hard to escape the past when you’re on the South Shore. Streets lined with stately Colonial homes stand as a testament to the area’s history. So on a weekend in which we celebrated the birth of our nation, we thought it fitting to belly up to the bar in a building that’s been around longer than American independence itself.

Although there’s plenty to remind you of the 250-plus year history inside the sprawling Colonial that houses Hingham’s Scarlet Oak Tavern - low, exposed beam ceilings, tucked away nooks, winding staircase, fireplaces, and so on - it’s the contemporary touches that give the space its pleasing contrast.

“This was the midway point for the wealthy when they traveled from Boston to Cape Cod,’’ bartender Joe Beale explained, although one suspects they weren’t offered anything quite like the Raspberry Champagne Fizz (Stoli Raspberry, peach schnapps, Chambord, champagne, $9.50). This is a summertime specialty, Beale said. We were expecting something a lot sweeter. Candied booze, if you will. Instead the sparkling wine dried things out nicely for a fine balance.

People do tend to prefer things on the sweeter side here, Beale explained, like the brand new, unnamed cocktail made with Grey Goose Orange, Cointreau, White Crème de Cacao, and a brown sugar and chocolate syrup rim. This one doesn’t beat around the bush, putting the sugar right on your lips (and fingers if you’re not careful). The chocolate and orange combination made this fun for a few sips, but we preferred the next offering called the Experience (Hendrick’s Gin, fresh squeezed lemon and lime juice, muddled cucumber, soda $9.50). Everyone’s wacky for Hendrick’s and cucumber in the city, so it’s nice to see the combination migrate to the suburbs as well. It’s basically a Tom Collins, but the fresh juices and a splash of soda make it pop. We could drink this one out in the sun all day.

That was a marked difference from the overpowering sweetness in some of the other options. Still, the French Pear (Grey Goose La Poire, Chambord, pineapple juice, $10) was drinkable all the same. Shaken hard, the pineapple foams up big. “That’s why I tend to go with no garnish here,’’ said Beale. “It’s almost like a head on a beer.’’ The presentation was a cascading sunset of color. Other attempts at more traditional cocktails, like the Gentleman’s Manhattan (Woodford Reserve bourbon, sweet and dry vermouth, Angostura bitters, $10), fared better with our simple taste.

The Rain Drop (Pinnacle Blueberry vodka, lemon juice, $10, below) seemed easy to dismiss at first, especially with its sugar rim, but it pulled us in with hints of blueberry on the back of the fresh citrus. Likewise the Ryan’s 9 (Canadian Club, orange juice, lemon, lime, cinnamon sugar rim, $10). Although if that sounds like a drink proposed by a 9-year-old pulling ingredients out of the air, that’s because it is. The general manager’s son is the mastermind here, and it’s not bad for a first attempt.

Most of these are not for purists or cocktail snobs, but for weary travelers making the trip from Boston to the Cape, or those living in between. It’s more than enough to quench your thirst or fortify you for the long trip.

Scarlet Oak Tavern, 1217 Main St., Hingham. 781-749-8200. www.scarletoaktavern.com

Boston Globe

Hey, dude, save the casual talk for later

Reality television and social networking Web sites get the blame for everything. Turns out we can add young people’s poor job search habits to the list, as well. So says Ellen Gordon Reeves, career adviser at the Web site www.jobs.change.org and author of the book “Can I Wear My Nose Ring to the Interview?: A Crash Course in Finding, Landing, and Keeping Your First Real Job” (Workman, $14).

In a culture where everything is on display all the time, it seems like we’ve failed young people, she says: “A lot of them don’t understand the boundaries of professional behavior.”

Young people have always been doing stupid stuff, of course. The problem now, she argues, is that popular culture has encouraged a new level of exhibitionism. “There’s this idea that everyone is your friend and it’s kind of a ‘Hey, dude’ attitude,” she says. “They pick up their cells no matter where they are, and it’s ‘Hey, dude, what’s up?’ to a recruiter.”

“When you’re job hunting,” she warns, “every act is on display.”

But that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Let loose, just not when job searching and not in a public space that anyone can access, such as Facebook.

It’s a balance at the heart of the title of the book, which Reeves explains is a metaphor about being yourself, but also a literal question she’s often asked. “Unlike most people out there, I tell them go ahead and wear the nose ring,” she says. “Just understand that 50 percent or more of the people out there aren’t going to hire you. To thine own self be true, but there are consequences.”

New York Metro

Friday, July 3, 2009

Barcode: Bokx 109

Most modern steakhouses exude a certain muscular artfulness in their design. Dark woods, engulfing booths, and aggressive ornamentation. BOKX 109 American Prime is no exception. Here the large bar bisects the room, with an open kitchen on one side and a lounge area on the other. But the real attraction is the adjacent pool deck.

Every few minutes as we sat at the bar, we’d glance longingly outside, hoping the sun might come out for once and give us a chance to enjoy a cocktail on one of the plump couches, pod chairs or private cabanas along the patio. Everyone at the surprisingly packed bar on a drizzly Wednesday night likely felt the same way.

The pool has a schedule of different entertainment options, hours of operation and cover charges depending on the day of the week, although Relakx Sundays (there’s a masseuse on hand) seems like the one to try. Indeed, a massage by the pool and a spicy Bloody Mary may be the ideal recipe for relaxing after a big night out.

“This one is great in case of a hangover,’’ says bartender Adam Dennis, presenting the Roasted Gazpacho (Ultimat vodka infused with red jalapenos, fresh basil, salt and pepper, Tabasco, $12). “It wakes the stomach up and brings the appetite back.’’ Spicy hot and chilled, with a large slice of red jalapeno and a basil leaf garnish, this one was a study in contrasts.

The Ginger Sidecar (Pierre Ferrand Cognac, Mathilde Pear Liqueur, simple syrup reduced with fresh ginger, $14, below right) hit the opposite end of the taste spectrum.

“Being that we have a young-executive-to-slightly-older crowd we like to stay with the classics,’’ Dennis said. “Sidecars, Sazeracs, Manhattans. But we try to work in something new to something that they’re used to. This one is a little on the airy side. Slightly sweet, but great on a hot day out at the pool.’’ We wouldn’t have minded a stronger ginger presence, but it was citrusy and had a nice texture, very drinkable.

Another variation on an old standard is the New Orleans Old Fashioned (Michter’s Rye, Peychaud’s Bitters, muddled fruit, sugar, $12). “Most of our drinks are more accommodating - frilly for lack of a better word,’’ says Dennis. “This is more old school spirits.’’ It’s got a striking color, a fruity, fresh nose, and an appealing fruit sugar. But the rye stands out. This is an instance where fruit complements the spirit rather than competing with it.

For something a little more adulterated, the Graceful Lady (Passion Fruit Skyy Vodka, rosemary reduced simple syrup, Mathilde Pear Liqueur, cranberry juice, $12, below left) is a good bet. “This is a good competition for a Cosmo,’’ Dennis said. Garnished with a sprig of rosemary, it’s more interesting than a cosmo.

“I don’t like to pigeonhole, but if someone says they don’t like the taste of alcohol, this is the one for them.’’ We might not order this ourselves, but in terms of starter cocktails, you could do a lot worse. From the looks of the crowd here - be it the gathering of 30-plus young mothers in the corner getting a night out, or the stockbrokers and media types in another - it seems people agree.

“We’re slammed all the time,’’ says Dennis. There’s a reason for that.

BOKX 109 at the Hotel Indigo, 399 Grove St., Newton. 617-454-3399. www.bokx109.com

Boston Globe