scorecardresearch Skip to main content

A visit to Barlette, a BYOB bar

You bring the alcohol. They provide everything else.

The Crudités & Co snack platter at Barlette.Nathan Klima for The Boston Globe

Where to: Barlette, a “BYOB bar” in the Coolidge Corner Arcade building.

Why: You like new experiences. You’d like to eat at Cobble, Barlette’s sister restaurant upstairs in the same building, but you can’t get a reservation. You just want to know what a BYOB bar is.

The backstory: Rachel Trudel and chef Emily Vena opened Cobble, a BYOB restaurant, in September 2020. Barlette followed last month. It is open Fridays and Saturdays, by pre-paid reservation only ($65 per person), with seatings at 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. In an intimate, 14-seat lounge, painted in jewel tones with rich floral wallpaper, patrons cozy up in nooks or sit around an L-shaped bar. A bartender arranges trays with glassware, cocktail shakers, mixers, and garnishes; sets up ice buckets for bottles that need chilling; converses with customers — everything a bartender usually does except touch alcohol. Guests bring wine, beer, spirits, sake, whatever they’re in the mood for, or nothing at all. The mixers make for tasty alcohol-free cocktails. As the night progresses, several courses of fancy bar snacks are served.

Michael Yablon and Sarah Row craft their own drinks at Barlette.Nathan Klima for The Boston Globe

What to eat: It’s a set menu that might best be described as a “bar picnic.” The offerings evolve: The chicken slider I ate on one visit is no longer on the menu. Currently, there’s a course of whipped goat cheese with smoked garlic gremolata and honey, served on a wooden board with dried apricots and Clear Flour sourdough bread. Then comes “Crudites & Co,” a cocktail party on a tray, featuring cheeses, cured meats, vegetables, pickles, olives, dates, potato chips, and onion dip. It’s fancy and retro and fun and satisfying. In a little glass, a pina colada parfait — coconut cake with coconut caramel, pineapple curd, roasted pineapple, whipped cream, and a cherry on top — ends the meal, with a few slices of citrus and a chocolate on the side for good measure.


Tyler Morell brings out glassware for guests at Barlette.Nathan Klima for The Boston Globe

What to drink: Bring a bottle, or a few, from home if you like. Or stop into neighboring shop Sorriso beforehand to pick up small-batch spirits or wine. Each reservation includes three drink options: Try a mixer like the Bow Regard (a blueberry highball with mint, lemon, and sparkling water) or the That’s All, Folks (a “spicy carrot margatini” with chiles, cilantro, and a Tajin rim). There’s also martini service, setups for a classic gimlet or Old Fashioned, or pickleback fixings. Yes, of course there’s coffee service, for your “so old-school it’s de rigueur” espresso martini. Add on tonic and lemon or lime, sparkling water, or a phony Negroni for $7 if you like, then settle up via Venmo when you go. A 20 percent service charge is added on to all reservations, in lieu of a tip.


Tyler Morell brings out glassware for guests at Barlette.Nathan Klima for The Boston Globe

The takeaway: Barlette is a fun experience for people who like to experiment with making their own drinks, and for those who enjoy the bar experience but aren’t partaking in alcohol. It’s like attending a festive, interactive cocktail party with strangers, in a cute apartment, with great snacks.

318 Harvard St. #11, Coolidge Corner, Brookline, 601-301-2024 (text only),

Devra First can be reached at Follow her @devrafirst.