Several watering holes, packed into one cozy cul-de-sac opposite Boston Common, serve Emerson students, theater-goers, and those wanting late-night action without crisscrossing the city.
Sweetwater Tavern. This amiable homebase for Emerson College and New England School of Law students, and late-night denizens of The Alley, offers $5 pints, decent bar food, booming DJs, and live music on weekends. Play trivia, hear comedy, and warble karaoke. During fall, watch college and pro games on big screens. It's open from 11:30 am daily. 3 Boylston Pl., Downtown/Theater District, 02116. 617/351–2515. www.sweetwatercafeboston.com.
Liquor Store. With bikini-clad bachelorettes riding the bronco bull, stripper poles, and blaring music, this bar in The Alley is the in-your-face place to check your inhibitions at the door, and perhaps become the entertainment. 25 Boylston Pl., Downtown. 617/357–6800. www.liquorstoreboston.com.