This Tiny Bar Next to Paul Revere’s House Is the Best-Kept Secret in Boston

And it’s hidden in plain sight on the city’s historic Freedom Trail.

<p>Chris Vela</p>

Chris Vela

It’s 10 p.m. in Boston, and nine pairs of eyes are following Phillip Rolfe’s every move behind the bar. We all have a front-row seat.

Right now, he’s shaking up white miso cocktails and talking Oishii omakase berries, which are infused into the vodka. At $5 per berry, these flavor bombs are not your average ingredient, but then again, this isn’t an average bar.

This is Farmacia, a 550-square-foot slice of the city’s North End just a few doors down from Paul Revere’s House. With nine seats and only a gilded snake and staff marking the entry, it’s a sliver of a spot you could easily miss if you weren’t looking past the area’s tourist attractions — but as much a love letter to Boston as the historic Freedom Trail it sits on.

<p>Chris Vela</p>

Chris Vela

As Rolfe pours into coupes, I'm feeling lucky to have scored a pre-paid ticket to the two-hour experience, considering they seem almost Taylor Swift-esque in demand here. They're released once a month online, and they go quick. Why? Here, everything is crafted just for you, and you leave feeling like you just tasted all of Massachusetts.

We sip, and Rolfe tells us about the strawberry vodka infusion and that he is one of the only bar programs in the Northeast to use these vertically grown wonders right now. When he speaks about them, everyone leans in. He's right — the berries are intense.

Being here is like being at a private party. Over the next two hours, our host tells us to select a few libations from the inventively themed rotating cocktail menu — a "chapter" Rolfe spent around 60 hours creating that season. Through a series of drinks, it tells a progressive story highlighting produce grown in the area; summer's menu is full of fresh herbs from Farmacia's private garden, while winter uses nostalgic New England ingredients like local cranberry paired with tiny house-made cider doughnuts.

Related: 15 Top Bars in the US, According to the Experts

Sure, the cocktails and bites are excellent — it all is. But what you stay for is the company. You go for the story Rolfe weaves about Boston, not in words per se, but through the freshest and most exciting flavors, the conversation, the down-to-earth atmosphere, and the curated music playlist, and you walk away learning something you never knew. In other words, it's the kind of bar worth traveling for.

To end the service, Rolfe pulls out a Belgian coffee siphon to prepare our espresso martini affogato (practically a staple in this traditionally Italian neighborhood). Everyone stops talking to observe the gadget in action. What's more, he manages to do it without an ounce of gimmick.

As he pours, Rolfe tells us he's really into exploring things that seem lost to history and sharing them with people. At the end of the day, he prefers to let the ingredients speak for themselves, but he can't help sharing what he's learned, and the experience is all the richer for it.

He speaks about inspiring trips to Barcelona and Lisbon, his upcoming rum tastings in Puerto Rico, and deep dives he's looking forward to at specialty grocers for flavors he can toy around with. He's already planning his next chapter: "The Spice Road."

At one point, I call him a storyteller. Rolfe laughs. He says he doesn't like to get "wicked hifalutin" into saying he's the one with the story to tell. But sit with him for an hour or two, and I promise you will hear one — from him, from the in-the-know guests you rub elbows with, from the very drink he just poured. If you want to get to know Boston like a resident, you couldn't do better than that.

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