Hops N Scotch – Brookline, Massachusetts

First Taste: Hops to It

When the Finale in Coolidge Corner closed its doors last New Year’s Eve, it was brushed off as another casualty of the economy. But where some saw abjection, Darren Tow and David Ng, owners of Coolidge Corner Wine & Spirits just two doors down, saw possibility. “It was about five years ago that we first thought about opening a restaurant,” says Tow, a Brookline native. On Aug. 8, that thought comes to fruition as Hops N Scotch, the team’s latest business venture, opens in the old Finale space.

True to its name, the “gastrolounge” features a variety of craft beers (read: West Coast IPAs and local favorites like Backlash and Harpoon), with 10 of its 40 taps in rotation. As for the liquor menu, the choice of 80 Scotches and pages of whiskeys and bourbons will have you quoting Anchorman.

In the back of the house, chef de cuisine Clinton Cox, formerly of East by Northeast, plates comfort food. His menu features Southern favorites and a few inventive fusions. The Scotch eggs, for instance, are soft-boiled, wrapped in house-made chorizo, then breaded, fried and served with a runny center and a bourbon-mustard sauce. Also look for classic fried chicken—buttermilk-battered with a side of cheesy grits and sautéed collards.

Though they’ve been developing the concept for years, Tow says that he and Ng will continue to listen to feedback and tailor the restaurant to the community. “I think that’s natural for us,” says Tow. “The last thing we want to do is disappoint anybody. We customize it all.”

He adds, “A lot of the beers you see on tap, it’s because someone asked for it.” True Southern hospitality.

Hops N Scotch 1306 Beacon St., Brookline (617-232-8808) hopsnscotchbar.com

This article originally appeared in the August 8, 2012, issue of The Improper Bostonian.