Raising the Bar: Drinking Splendidly Through Central Square

Nightlife stalwart Central Square has a most wonderful knack of quaffing any possible thirst. Whether you prefer a 1989 Cotes de Francs Bordeaux, a gorgeously frothed pisco sour, or a microbrewed IPA on tap, these precious blocks of Cambridge deliver. Read on for a quick rundown of 10 wonderful bars--there's plenty more, mind you--but it's your fun task to scour them all. Go on, crawl like you mean it.

(Photo: Middlesex by Jose Cuadra)

Updated: October 01, 2009

Cin-Cin, Cambridge!

Craigie on Main

853 Main St, Cambridge, MA 02139

IN FIVE WORDS: precise, upstanding, experienced, handsome, eye-opening. EXPECT: an unfussily elegant and well-stocked bar with old-school know-how and an approachable professionalism. TRY THIS: the ponderous St. Pierre (a cocktail with housemade rose vermouth and Niesson rum) or a glass of heady, aged Riesling.

Cafe Luna

403 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139

IN FIVE WORDS: warm, eager, relaxing, local, comforting. EXPECT: cozy and charming feel in a quintessential Italian-tinged bakery and cafe. TRY THIS: red or white sangria, based on Spanish Rioja and bursting with fruit, which goes well with the nightly live music.

Enormous Room

569 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139

IN FIVE WORDS: chill, Bohemian, trendy, small-capacity, velvety. EXPECT: an intimate, second-story lounge with Oriental rugs, luxuriously low seats for perching and a petite dance floor. TRY THIS: "God in Small Pieces," a spin on a pomegranate margarita, a bottle of Red Stripe or, hell, some single-malt scotch.

Green Street

280 Green St, Cambridge, MA 02139

IN FIVE WORDS: reliable, welcoming, boisterous, social, encouraging. EXPECT: locals and industry players thronging a wood-heavy bar with many-a-slung cocktails. TRY THIS: the Daisy Black, an homage to proprietor Dylan Black's great-great grandfather (Old Overholt rye, fresh lemon juice, honey syrup), or an ice-cold bottle of Miller High Life.

Middlesex Lounge

315 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139

IN FIVE WORDS: sensual, trendy, minimalist, intimate, hipster. EXPECT: a vibe embodied in come-hither eyes across the bumping dance floor thanks to DJ'd tunes. TRY THIS: the tangy, tequila-based Double 'O' Siete or a bottle of Hitachino Red Rice Ale.

Garden At The Cellar

991 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

IN FIVE WORDS: farm-fresh, spunky, earnest, straightforward, down-to-earth. EXPECT: an instantly homey spot festooned with herb plants and a cozy bar that befits the diminutive, we're-all-friends-here, market-driven restaurant. TRY THIS: a smooth Sazerac or a bottle of Montepulciano for the table.

River Gods

125 River St, Cambridge, MA 02139

IN FIVE WORDS: familiar, quirky, kitschy, Irish-Gothic, effortless. EXPECT: a boisterously surreal, diamond-in-the-rough neighborhood restaurant and bar with DJs. TRY THIS: a smooth Rob Roy, up, or a perfectly poured pint of Guinness.

Miracle of Science

321 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139

IN FIVE WORDS: loud, low-frills, sports-friendly, modern, straightforward. EXPECT: austere, chic-geek space with a laboratory-tabled bar, open-grill kitchen and periodic-table chalkboard menu. TRY THIS: a pitcher of Victory HopDevil or two fingers of whiskey to down the killer burgers.

Rendezvous in Central Square

502 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139

IN FIVE WORDS: elegant, seasonal, neighborhood, rustic, natural. EXPECT: romantic yet casual nook, with a handsome bar playing cult-classic cinema on the TV. TRY THIS: the Boutonniere (apple brandy. French vermouth, St. Germaine elderflower liqueur) or a glass of Muscadet.

Central Kitchen

567 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139

IN FIVE WORDS: sensual, tasteful, leisurely, sharp, sophisticated. EXPECT: a dim, casually romantic bistro with refined turns on European comfort food and efficient bar. TRY THIS: a glass of sparkling rose cava or a local beer from Cambridge Brewing Company.