It took about five seconds after sitting down at the bar at Citizen's Public House and Oyster bar for me to realize I'd arrived at the restaurant industry worker's version of bar Heaven. Maybe it was the dozen plus bottles of bitters arrayed in front of me on the bar, or the chalk board listing the near 100 types of whiskey they offer. It could just be the fact that they serve Fernet Branca on tap for $3 a shot.
“Franklin Cafe has always been industry driven, it's just the way we started out,” says Joy Richard, bar and beverage manager for the group of restaurants under the Franklin umbrella, including Citizen. “We've been fortunate that it's had appeal for industry folks, but that just comes from the fact that all of the owners have been in the industry so long. For me, I wanted to design a bar that I wanted to go to that had all the things I loved.”
That list of bar wishes included ample seating, of which there is plenty at the long rectangle shape bar that dominates the dark candle lit room with chunky exposed wooden beams and smooth wood surfaces. It's decidedly more cozy public house than bright oyster bar in terms of aesthetics. Richard also wanted to make sure they were serving the right type of ice with the right drink, she says. To that effect they hand-chip ice per cocktail, and press ice into perfect spheres for serving their whiskeys.
“I also like having a lot of variety when I am mixing cocktails ,” she says. “We have over 200 spirits, so bartenders can have everything they'd ever want.” Of course, she says, that still leaves 1000 more she wishes she could add.
What whiskey are you having?
The only drawback you might find here is choosing from all the whiskeys, most of which are surprisingly well-priced. Scotch, Canadian, Irish, Bourbon, Rye, Japanese and white whiskeys all get their due. The list also includes some hand-selected options, like a Four Roses barrel exclusively served at Citizen. It's a bourbon with tons of caramel that's very smooth for its high proof. Other standouts I tried include the High West Rendezvous Rye, with an extraordinary grass and mint finish that doesn't hit until five seconds after you're done sipping and the Death's Door white whiskey, remarkably drinkable with little burn and plenty of wheat and vanilla.
Citizen Public House and Oyster Bar
1310 Boylston St., Boston