Life Is Good at Good Life

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Posted May 21, 2013 by Tony McMillen in Eat & Drink
Dancing at the Good Life

I spent last Friday in downtown Boston at the bar Good Life, soaking up the vibe and a few drinks sent my way by some businessmen regulars who sort of adopted me for the night. I had a good time talking to these seasoned drinkers, as well as a lot of the Good Life staff.

I learned quickly that this bar is actually two bars in one: At around five o’clock, the place fills with lawyers and other professionals who stop in daily for a few drinks and a few familiar faces after getting off work in the Financial District. But come nine o’clock on a Friday night, Good Life pulls an Optimus Prime and transforms itself into a hip-hop and techno dance club. That’s about the time the place gets filled to the gills with a younger crowd that wants to celebrate the start of the weekend properly—with some colorful libations and by cutting a little rug here at downtown Boston’s dance party Valhalla.

The best part about this bar’s multiple personality disorder is that the different crowds effortlessly spill into each other—much like they did last Friday, when I was there. Where else am I going to see a 55-year-old lawyer in a three-piece suit grooving to Jay Z shoulder-to-shoulder with young, self-described hipsters? Nowhere but Downtown Crossing. This place exists in some sort of magical bubble outside of normal space and time. It’s a wonder to behold and be a part of.

And that’s exactly the impression I picked up from the staff at Good Life, too. They all seemed quietly charmed by their unique and varied clientele. I spoke at length to three different waitresses and two bartenders, and they each told me the same exact story: Friday night at Good Life is unlike any other club experience in downtown Boston. But it’s not just because of the scene on the dance floor. What makes Good Life such a great Friday night destination is that even though the crowd comes from very different places, they all become part of one uniformly relaxed throng. Everyone at the bar has at least this much in common: They’re people who enjoy themselves, and they’re not shy about it.

The staff I spoke with that night treated me warmly and made me comfortable almost instantly. After a couple of tasty beers, I asked my bartender for her favorite drink. She told me, without hesitation, it was the “Old Dirty Shirley.” An Old Dirty Shirley consists of Grey Goose Cherry, Grenadine, Sprite, fresh lime juice, an actual lime, and maraschino cherry. So, yes, it’s a Shirley Temple on a spring-break-style rampage. It’s a beverage designed for ladies who want their liquor to taste like a high-end, Jolly-Rancher-flavored Capri Sun. And, yes, I loved it. I was also told to try “The Hipster.” Fittingly, The Hipster is a simple elixir composed of PBR and a shot of Jameson. It went down the hatch quite nicely, and made me seriously eager to get up and rejoin the crowd on the dance floor.

I should add that Good Life updated its menu about two weeks back, and there’s now plenty of new dishes to try. While I wasn’t feeling too peckish that night, I asked Damian Silva, the general manager at Good Life, what he’d recommend off the new menu. He told me the house-made veggie burger was his personal favorite. He also informed me that it’s actually his girlfriend’s recipe but that even without that bias it’d still be his number one. Next time, I’ll try that out.

Relaxing at the Good Life

5 o’clock crowd relaxing at Good Life. Photo Credit Tony McMillen

I started this article off by announcing that some older business guys adopted me. It’s true. I’ll admit that when Joe (a lawyer who gave me his card at the end of the night) started talking to me, I thought he might be doing it solely for the freak-show factor. Not that I look too alarming—I look like your typical unkempt-but-rakishly-handsome underachiever—but when I walked in at five o’clock, I was definitely the only guy at the bar who looked like he hadn’t passed it. But after talking to Joe the Lawyer and a few other professionals for a bit, and after some more people came up and started talking to us, I realized the only reason Joe the Lawyer bought me a drink was because he’s a cool guy. He wasn’t the only one there, either. Joe introduced me to the staff and all his Financial District friends—and then to all his other friends, who were dressed down in T-shirts and jeans, like me. As he bought me another PBR tallboy and himself another martini, I asked him what kept him coming back to Good Life.

“The people,” he answered. By the way he said it, I could tell he meant the people on both sides of the bar.

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