My City: Entrepreneur Jackson Cannon's View of Boston
Restaurant industry professional Jackson Cannon serves up his ideal version of Beantown.
Jackson Cannon is one of the country’s most recognizable restaurant industry personalities. Synonymous with better drinking in Boston, Cannon helped establish the city’s cocktail culture and has been an invaluable mentor to the next generation of service industry professionals. Cannon, first and foremost, is a bartender but a full CV would include mention of the fact that he’s bar director at Eastern Standard and Island Creek Oyster Bar and owner of The Hawthorne. Here, he shares some tips on getting the most out of a trip to Beantown:
Q: Boston is a maze of neighborhoods and confusing connections. Is there a nugget of wisdom that you can pass on to get people started on their visit?
Cannon: Pick an anchor bar in a neighborhood and have them help you get the lay of the land. Try Lincoln Tavern in Southie, Silvertone in Downtown Crossing, or our place, Eastern Standard, when in the Kenmore/Fenway area. All three do lunch and have the kind of bartenders that will help you choose from all the suggestions you get from internet searches. Their advice will be current and often they’ll set you up with direct contacts to other bars and restaurants.
What’s the best way to get around town?
The T (Boston’s public transportation system) by day is a great way beat the traffic but, at night, Uber is your best bet. If you are not going far outside the city DO NOT rent a car. The airport is in the city and parking here, if you're not used to it, is a drag.
Boston is obviously full of fantastic architecture and history. Is there an area that people can walk around that you would advise people not to miss? What should they look out for?
I really think the Duck tour is a solid first-day investment. It shows you how Boston is three cities (with Cambridge and Somerville) settled around the River Charles and rolls you through downtown, pointing out our most iconic sites. If you'd rather walk than ride there are tours of the Freedom Trail.
Is there a hidden gem building, museum or gallery that you think is worth going out of your way to find?The USS Constitution, the world’s oldest seaworthy commissioned war ship in the Charlestown Navy Yard and The Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum are two of my favourites.
What’s the best hotel to call home base?
Well, hands down, I need to do a plug for The Hotel Commonwealth here, since Eastern Standard, Island Creek, and The Hawthorne are all contained within. I also like the Elliot for its vibe and, if you're going to be downtown, and are willing to be across the channel, there’s a Marriott Residence in the Fort Point area which makes Drink, a world-class cocktail bar, your last stop of the night!
What’s the city’s most exciting neighbourhood right now? What makes it so exciting?
Fort Point is blossoming now. Great bars, restaurants, waterfront, concert space and other outdoor areas make it a real special part of the New Boston.
Is there a safe and relatively civilized place to watch the Red Sox?
You know it's one of the problems of our time that the kind of energy around big games mutates into a sort of hooliganism. It's really a shame. You are super safe inside any bar and law enforcement does a great job of corralling and dispersing crowds. You just might not be able to move about the way you'd like if you are close to one of the stadiums. Cornwall’s is probably my top pick for a bar near Fenway.
Can you name a spot at which to get a really great cocktail?
So many now: Drink, Backbar, Brick & Mortar, Citizen, Straight Law, Alden & Harlow, Eastern Standard, The Hawthorne, Highball, Green Street, Deep Ellum, Tavern Road …
That's a good start.
What’s your favourite place to blow the bank for a special occasion?
Where would you tell a tourist to go if they wanted to feel like a local?
Any other hidden gems?
Erbaluce and Troquet are two of my favourite restaurants. They’ve been around for a little while and don’t get a whole lot of press, but they have amazing food, great wine, and a relaxed professional service that lets your night be yours – if you know what I mean.
• Lincoln Tavern, 425 W Broadway, South Boston, 617-765-8636
• Silvertone, 69 Bromfield St., 617-338-7887
• Eastern Standard, 528 Commonwealth Ave., 617-532-9100
• The Eliot Hotel, 370 Commonwealth Ave., 617-267-1607
• Hotel Commonwealth, 500 Commonwealth Ave., 617-933-5000
• Marriott Residence Inn, 370 Congress St., 617-478-0840
• Cornwall’s, 654 Beacon St., 617-262-3749
• Drink, 348 Congress St., 617-695-1806
• Backbar, 7 Sanborn Court, Somerville, 617-718-0249
• Brick & Mortar, 567 Massachusetts Ave., 617-491-0016
• Citizen, 1310 Boylston St., 617-450-9000
• Straight Law, 999 Beacon St., 617-277-8272
• Alden & Harlow 40 Brattle St., Cambridge, 617-864-2100
• The Hawthorne, 500A Commonwealth Ave., 617-532-9150
• Highball, 90 Tremont St., 617-777-0202
• Green Street Grill, 280 Green St., Cambridge, 617-876-1655
• Deep Ellum, 477 Cambridge St., 617-787-2337
• Tavern Road, 343 Congress St., 617-790-0808
• No. 9 Park, 9 Park St., 617-742-9991
• Biddy Early’s, 141 Pearl St., 617-654-9944
• Erbaluce, 69 Church St., 617-426-6969
• Troquet, 140 Boylston St., 617-695-9463