If you want to know what’s on the horizon in Boston, just ask Adam Lantheaume, owner of The Boston Shaker in Somerville. That’s because his bar supply store outfits practically all of the city’s best new restaurants and bars, so he can’t help but be in the know.
Lantheaume started the business in 2008, mainly because he and his cocktail-obsessed friends couldn’t get their hands on the specialized bar tools they needed to make old-timey drinks like the Brandy Crusta and the Mint Julep. He soon discovered that every bartender in Boston shared this predicament and the business took off.
Here, Lantheaume shares some of his favourite things about the city this ex-New Yorker adopted nearly 20 years ago.
Q: Boston is obviously full of fantastic architecture and history, but are there a few things you think people shouldn’t miss?
Lantheaume: I’m more of an eat-and-drink-my-way-through-a-city person than a sightseer, but there’s a ton of awesome old buildings mixed with modern. It’s a great town to walk around and just look. The things that jump out at me are the Boston Public Library, the reflecting pool at Christian Science Center Plaza, and the Boston Common/Public Gardens. Harvard’s campus is pretty great and gorgeous in the autumn, too.
Is there one gallery or museum that you’d suggest people try to hit up?
The Museum of Bad Art is pretty unique.
Where can you go to experience really traditional Boston food?
B & G Oysters, Neptune Oysters, Union Oyster House or Island Creek Oyster House. Look at a map and pick the one you’re closest to. Slurp.
What’s the best Boston street food? What makes it so great?
Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of street food by the shop which is disappointing. The Clover Food Lab guys rock it pretty hard and there’s more than one, so you have a good chance of being near one. I’ve heard great things about Grilled Cheese Nation and Mei Mei Kitchen, too. If you’re near the North End during one of their festivals try to grab some food there. Or a Sausage and Peppers on Yawkey Way during baseball season always hits the spot.
Where would you send somebody who wanted to hang with the locals?
I can only speak for myself here, but the places I like to go that feel really neighborhood-y to me are around my old hood – Inman Square or in Somerville. Trina’s Starlite Lounge and the Druid, both in Inman, are places that I long for and are always filled with locals. Highland Kitchen in Somerville is a killer joint. Green Street Grill in Central Square Cambridge is good. Hope you get to go on Taco Night!
You’ve gone some ways to answering our next question, namely, why go to Cambridge and Somerville? Can you expand on that a little?
Cambridge/Somerville, or as some say jokingly, Camberville, has a much more mellow vibe than downtown. For those into NYC analogies I liken Cambridge and Somerville to Brooklyn and Astoria, Queens. If you’re comfortable walking a few miles at a go you can get just about anywhere between the T (Boston Public Transit) and on foot. If you’re from out of town and want to head over the river, stick to the Red Line on the T and there’s stuff to do at just about every stop.
Is there one short day-trip that people should make an effort to do?
I love Salem. It’s way more than witches and Halloween – which is what I thought before I got to know it. It’s got a long nautical history, it’s a big part of New England’s history and has a great mix of modern stuff as the city evolves. You can get there via car or commuter rail in about 40 min to an hour max. While you’re there, hit the Peabody Essex Museum, grab a baked goodie at A & J King Bakery, have a cocktail at Salem Opus, check out the Friendship of Salem near Pickering Wharf. Oh and if you’re into witches there’s still, like, a billion things to do.
The Boston Shaker, 69 Holland Street, Somerville
Boston Public Library, 700 Boylston Street
Christian Science Center Plaza, 210 Massachusetts Avenue
The Museum of Bad Art, 55 Davis Square, Somerville
B & G Oysters, 550 Tremont Street
Neptune Oysters, 63 Salem Street
Union Oyster House, 41 Union Street
Island Creek Oyster Bar, 500 Commonwealth Avenue
The Clover Food Lab, 7 Holyoke Street, Cambridge;
plus various locations
Grilled Cheese Nation
Mei Mei Kitchen, 506 Park Drive
Yawkey Way, 34 Yawkee Way
Trina’s Starlite Lounge, 3 Beacon Street, Somerville
The Druid, 1357 Cambridge Street
Highland Kitchen, 150 Highland Avenue
Green Street Grill, 280 Green Street, Cambridge
Peabody Essex Museum, 161 Essex Street, Salem
A & J King Bakery, 48 Central Street, Salem
Salem Opus, 87 Washington Street, Salem