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The Best Boston Bars for Thanksgiving Eve

Where to meet your friends on the year’s biggest (unofficial) drinking holiday.

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Thanksgiving Day is all about family, turkey, and stuffing yourself silly. You may have to endure the same story Uncle Joe has told you a hundred times, eat three different types of cranberry sauce so no one gets offended, and force yourself to eat more pie than is healthy (well, because, pie), but the night before is all yours. It’s a time to catch up with out-of-town friends back for the holiday, cut loose with cousins you hardly ever see, and generally make merry. From an outrageous late-night lights-out party to creative tiki cocktails, here are some of the best places to celebrate on Thanksgiving Eve.

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This South End bar, a local favorite in the neighborhood, has the distinction of being the official Boston base for Georgia Bulldogs and Washington Redskins fans, a bold stance in Patriots land. No matter who you follow in sports though, the bar offers a lively place to kick back with pals the night before turkey day. Creatively named cocktails, like the Walk Down Dartmouth and the Dew Barrymore, are just as tasty as the old standards. Pizzas, wings, nachos, and the like are perfect for sharing.

The Pour House

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Somewhat of an anomaly in the mostly upscale Back Bay, the Pour House is a refreshingly low-key and straight-up casual bar, where the music is loud and so are the sports fans. Certainly, it is filled with a young college-age crowd, but since the Pour House opened in 1986, it’s also filled with former college students who like to return and reminisce about the good old days. Beers are cheap, drinks are strong, and no one is under any illusion that the food is anything other than classic bar fare, all of which make for a rollicking good time.

Temazcal Tequila Cantina

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Snag a seat at the enormous bar at this upscale Mexican restaurant in the Seaport District and enjoy both people-watching and gazing out at views of the waterfront, while snacking on chips, house-made guacamole, salsa, and a stiff drink. As the name implies, tequila reigns supreme here, but if that’s not your thing, no worries. Sangria, served by the glass or the pitcher and made with BACARDÍ Limon, raspberry vodka, crème de peche, Sprite, fresh fruit, and either red, white, or blush wine, is an excellent alternative.

Forget about all the cheesy Scorpion Bowls and Mai Tais you’ve ever imbibed at Asian restaurants over the years. At Empire, an elegant Asian restaurant and lounge in the Seaport District, these classic cocktails have been elevated into something worth remembering — in a good way. The Golden Scorpion Bowl, comprised of BACARDÍ Tangerine, BACARDÍ Black, orange Red Bull, and fruit juices, then finished with a Demerara 151 float, will spoil you for any others. Same goes for drinks like the Zombie, Painkiller, and others.

Red Lantern Restaurant & Lounge

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A sister restaurant to Empire, the Red Lantern in the Back Bay has a similar feel, with an upscale nightclub kind of vibe and a fresh take on Asian food and drink. The Island Mai Tai here, served in a coconut and made with a secret rum blend with curaçao, fresh coconut water, fresh squeezed lime, and house-made almond syrup, is wildly popular, as are shareable drinks like the Fish Bowl, made with a blend of juices and rum. There’s even a cocktail on tap: the Luau Daiquiri. Order the pupu platter, and you and your friends will be set for the night.

STRIP by Strega

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Part of the popular Strega family of restaurants, this chic steakhouse, located in the Park Plaza Hotel in the Back Bay, is a super sleek place to meet up the night before Thanksgiving. The bar is definitely a place to see and be seen, and most people seem to make sure to be camera ready. Drinks at the bar are always perfectly crafted, and, as befitting a steakhouse, there’s an extensive wine list. If you’re just grazing, dishes like steak tartare, the antipasto plate, or grilled tenderloin pizza are good choices.

Club Cafe

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For anyone who wants to cut loose in a big way on Thanksgiving Eve, the restaurant and nightclub Club Café in the South End is the place to do it. At midnight, the bar’s sixth annual Black Out Party will commence, with a performance by Neon Calypso, a DJ, and plenty of glow sticks and other glow items. If you plan on dining, the kitchen features a menu with dishes to share among friends, like nachos, quesadillas, and pizza. A large cocktail menu, broken down by seasonal, classics, fruit, and sweet, has something for everyone.

InterContinental Boston

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The InterContinental, located in the Seaport District, is home to the excellent RumBa Rum & Champagne Bar, an interesting combination to focus on. The rum part of the bar includes an international collection of distilled and vintage rums: Here drinks run the gamut from classic mojitos to specialty rums that you won’t see on any other menu in town. And behind a sliding door, the Champagne Bar, designed to evoke the Moulin Rouge, offers a wide selection of bubbles in a cozy atmosphere. The food menu features raw bar items, fish tacos, and steak frites, plus diners can also order sushi from Sushi-Teq, the hotel’s sushi and tequila bar.

Publico Street Bistro & Garden

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This fun neighborhood restaurant in South Boston offers an eclectic mix of food and drink, focusing on dishes from Europe and South and North America. The mix-and-match dinner menu has everything from empanadas to steak frites, while the drink menu offers inspiration to try something new or enjoy a local brew or glass of wine. The large curved bar seats 27, offering plenty of room for friends to hang out.

Granary Tavern

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Located off the Rose Kennedy Greenway, this former grain mill, with two bars on two levels, is a great place to meet friends for a drink. Original brick walls and exposed beams dating back to 1816 when the mill was built make for a warm and cozy environment. The restaurant serves up typical pub fare, like burgers and fish and chips, but if you’re only there for drinks, seasonal specialties, like a caramel apple martini, hit the mark, or you can opt for something from the solid list of craft beers and well-made cocktails.

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Clerys

This South End bar, a local favorite in the neighborhood, has the distinction of being the official Boston base for Georgia Bulldogs and Washington Redskins fans, a bold stance in Patriots land. No matter who you follow in sports though, the bar offers a lively place to kick back with pals the night before turkey day. Creatively named cocktails, like the Walk Down Dartmouth and the Dew Barrymore, are just as tasty as the old standards. Pizzas, wings, nachos, and the like are perfect for sharing.

The Pour House

Somewhat of an anomaly in the mostly upscale Back Bay, the Pour House is a refreshingly low-key and straight-up casual bar, where the music is loud and so are the sports fans. Certainly, it is filled with a young college-age crowd, but since the Pour House opened in 1986, it’s also filled with former college students who like to return and reminisce about the good old days. Beers are cheap, drinks are strong, and no one is under any illusion that the food is anything other than classic bar fare, all of which make for a rollicking good time.

Temazcal Tequila Cantina

Snag a seat at the enormous bar at this upscale Mexican restaurant in the Seaport District and enjoy both people-watching and gazing out at views of the waterfront, while snacking on chips, house-made guacamole, salsa, and a stiff drink. As the name implies, tequila reigns supreme here, but if that’s not your thing, no worries. Sangria, served by the glass or the pitcher and made with BACARDÍ Limon, raspberry vodka, crème de peche, Sprite, fresh fruit, and either red, white, or blush wine, is an excellent alternative.

Empire

Forget about all the cheesy Scorpion Bowls and Mai Tais you’ve ever imbibed at Asian restaurants over the years. At Empire, an elegant Asian restaurant and lounge in the Seaport District, these classic cocktails have been elevated into something worth remembering — in a good way. The Golden Scorpion Bowl, comprised of BACARDÍ Tangerine, BACARDÍ Black, orange Red Bull, and fruit juices, then finished with a Demerara 151 float, will spoil you for any others. Same goes for drinks like the Zombie, Painkiller, and others.

Red Lantern Restaurant & Lounge

A sister restaurant to Empire, the Red Lantern in the Back Bay has a similar feel, with an upscale nightclub kind of vibe and a fresh take on Asian food and drink. The Island Mai Tai here, served in a coconut and made with a secret rum blend with curaçao, fresh coconut water, fresh squeezed lime, and house-made almond syrup, is wildly popular, as are shareable drinks like the Fish Bowl, made with a blend of juices and rum. There’s even a cocktail on tap: the Luau Daiquiri. Order the pupu platter, and you and your friends will be set for the night.

STRIP by Strega

Part of the popular Strega family of restaurants, this chic steakhouse, located in the Park Plaza Hotel in the Back Bay, is a super sleek place to meet up the night before Thanksgiving. The bar is definitely a place to see and be seen, and most people seem to make sure to be camera ready. Drinks at the bar are always perfectly crafted, and, as befitting a steakhouse, there’s an extensive wine list. If you’re just grazing, dishes like steak tartare, the antipasto plate, or grilled tenderloin pizza are good choices.

Club Cafe

For anyone who wants to cut loose in a big way on Thanksgiving Eve, the restaurant and nightclub Club Café in the South End is the place to do it. At midnight, the bar’s sixth annual Black Out Party will commence, with a performance by Neon Calypso, a DJ, and plenty of glow sticks and other glow items. If you plan on dining, the kitchen features a menu with dishes to share among friends, like nachos, quesadillas, and pizza. A large cocktail menu, broken down by seasonal, classics, fruit, and sweet, has something for everyone.

InterContinental Boston

The InterContinental, located in the Seaport District, is home to the excellent RumBa Rum & Champagne Bar, an interesting combination to focus on. The rum part of the bar includes an international collection of distilled and vintage rums: Here drinks run the gamut from classic mojitos to specialty rums that you won’t see on any other menu in town. And behind a sliding door, the Champagne Bar, designed to evoke the Moulin Rouge, offers a wide selection of bubbles in a cozy atmosphere. The food menu features raw bar items, fish tacos, and steak frites, plus diners can also order sushi from Sushi-Teq, the hotel’s sushi and tequila bar.

Publico Street Bistro & Garden

This fun neighborhood restaurant in South Boston offers an eclectic mix of food and drink, focusing on dishes from Europe and South and North America. The mix-and-match dinner menu has everything from empanadas to steak frites, while the drink menu offers inspiration to try something new or enjoy a local brew or glass of wine. The large curved bar seats 27, offering plenty of room for friends to hang out.

Granary Tavern

Located off the Rose Kennedy Greenway, this former grain mill, with two bars on two levels, is a great place to meet friends for a drink. Original brick walls and exposed beams dating back to 1816 when the mill was built make for a warm and cozy environment. The restaurant serves up typical pub fare, like burgers and fish and chips, but if you’re only there for drinks, seasonal specialties, like a caramel apple martini, hit the mark, or you can opt for something from the solid list of craft beers and well-made cocktails.

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