Drinking is great. It brings people together. It’s celebratory. It’s delicious. And it makes everyone more attractive. But have you ever found yourself with a drink in one hand and your phone in the other and wanted…more? If bending your elbow at the bar isn’t enough this season, here are a few spots around the city where there’s more on the menu. From bocce to board games, these drinking establishments have activities to keep you and your crew entertained while you imbibe.
From the folks behind Mamaleh’s Delicatessen and the forthcoming Café du Pays, State Park puts fun first. Faux wood paneling and Christmas lights set the chintzy-chic mood at this subterranean dive. There’s pinball, a pool table, and tabletop shuffleboard—a game of nuance and precision or brute strength, depending on your style. And the fun isn’t limited to the games. The menu is loaded with whimsy, from the Official State Park Cocktail (Rye, Amaro, and beer served in a Miller High Life bottle), to a curated list of boilermakers and large-format drinks. So grab a pitcher of Pimm’s Cup and a pool cue, or a Surfers on Acid with a Genny Cream and a handful of quarters. Your mouth will have as much fun as you will.
State Park – One Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA 02139 617.848.4355
Downtown doesn’t get to have all the fun. Call in ‘sick’ some nice day this summer (you know you want to) and take a field-trip to Branch Line in Watertown. Bocce is the name of the game here, and Branch Line’s regulation court is the crown jewel of their gorgeous four-season patio. Step inside the airy, industrial space that pays homage to the building’s factory roots, and belly up to the long wood-beam bar to sample one of 20 rotating and mostly local beers on tap, try a funky cider, or ask your knowledgeable bartender to recommend something from the wine list. And just because bocce feels like a game for ladies and gentlemen doesn’t mean you can’t crush wine coolers (responsibly) while you play. Grab a Ramona (a dangerously delicious sparkling wine/grapefruit combo in a can), or a bag full of ice to keep your rosé cool while you toss the Pallino.
Branch Line – 321 Arsenal St, Watertown, MA 02472 617.420.1900
Step right up, don’t be shy. Head to Roxy’s Grilled Cheese in Central and sneak out back through the walk-in cooler into a world of color and light, where grownups can be kids again. A4cade has everything you didn’t remember you needed to have a good time: Skee Ball, pinball, air-hockey, and that Simpson’s arcade game from the roller rink of your youth. The formula that keeps this time machine running is nostalgia + games + booze = fun squared. But while the drink list reads like a retro video game chat thread (“Yoshi’s Island”, “Rainbow Road”), don’t let that fool you into thinking that these drinks are for kids (which would be illegal anyway). These are serious drinks served in sippy-cups, and there’s depth and complexity behind the silly cocktail names (try a “Dorothy in the Streets”, with Gin Mare, Sfumato Rabarbaro, Jasmine, and Strawberry). A thoughtfully curated wine list is available for pairing with your grilled cheese and hot dog, and team-players can choose from a fantastic selection of wines-by-the-magnum-P.I., complete with mustaches. A4cade is not for kids—it’s 21-plus at all times—so tell the babysitter not to wait up, because you’ll be out late trying to beat your high score.
A4Cade – 292 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139 617.714.3960
Spin the wheel, take a chance. In the unlikely event that you can’t find what you’re looking for on Highball’s well-rounded cocktail list (which is actually a 3-D Viewfinder), the bartenders will be happy to create something to suit your fancy. And they’ll probably garnish it with a tiny rubber duck. Located inside Hotel Nine Zero, Highball Lounge is a fancy cocktail bar disguised as your cool friend’s basement rec-room. Grab a bucket of High Life Ponies and crash on a couch while you stack Jenga blocks, or sip an Apple-Bottom Jeans (with Laird’s Apple Brandy, citrus, and pineapple) over a friendly game of Candy Land. Remember all those commercials for games your parents never bought you? They’ve got ‘em, plus featured DJs for live tunes while you drink and play.
Highball Lounge – 90 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02108 617.772.5834
If all this newfangled mumbo-jumbo isn’t your style, or if you feel like the only appropriate decoration for a bar is old beer ads (and a few photos of the owners’ prizewinning show-dogs), then Cornwall’s will warm your curmudgeonly heart. A British-style pub in the heart of Kenmore Square, Cornwall’s is charmingly rough around the edges, and they’ve got acceptably traditional entertainment to accompany their fantastic beer selection: darts, billiards, and a shelf full of board games. Beer is the thing here. Cornwall’s is a true pub, and they’re dedicated to keeping a global selection of suds on tap and in the bottle, repping some of the oldest breweries in the world alongside small crafty ones from all over. So grab a pint of lager and a bunch of friends, and try not to scratch on the 8 ball.
Cornwall’s – 654 Beacon St, Boston, MA 02215 617.262.3749