Massachusetts was effectively founded by Puritans, and that’s pretty clear in the state’s blue laws and other legislation related to alcohol. The sale of alcohol on Sundays was mostly prohibited until 2004 and happy hours have been banned since 1984. Thus, there’s not much of a bar scene in Harvard Square (unless you consider dodging Kennedy School students at Daedalus fun).
But change has arrived in the form of Felipe’s receiving its much touted and awaited liquor license. With my U.S. Passport Card (for those of us who do not drive) and a fellow over-21 friend in hand, I hit the bar at Felipe’s to see if the Square’s favorite burrito joint can grow up into a hub of nightlife.
There are two kinds of margaritas in this world: those that come in fruity flavors, frozen and sugary sweet and usually as big as a Slurpee, and the ones that are effectively chilled glasses of tequila with a hint of citrus. The one made for me at Felipe’s for roughly $6 plus a tip is definitely the latter—perhaps aggressively strong with a thick salt rim. The initial shock and awe of being served something in a real glass quickly wears off upon tasting the drink. I get hints of alcohol, other alcohol, and more alcohol, and am left wanting something more in the taste department. Still, there’s something inherently festive about a margarita.
In the interests of diversity, my friend orders a glass of sangria because it is the only other mixed drink advertised at the time. She is a senior, and next year, she’ll leave me for greener pastures in Washington, D.C., so despite the fact that we are in a fast food establishment our time together feels precious and mature. Much like the margarita, the cocktail’s name is more of a suggestion and a concept. What arrives is a cold glass of red wine cut by orange slices and ice cubes. Yummy, but a bit past the mark.
After a wild Friday night at Harvard (read: a lot of Taylor Swift sing along), my friend and I return to Felipe’s, this time sporting an additional party. Because it’s near last call, they can only serve beer. Eager to test their ability on the tap, we buy a round of Dos Equis drafts and head upstairs to the much expanded seating area. It’s still too cold for the roof to be open, so we settle for a big table in the back. Over beer and nachos, we laugh and share stories in a state of suspended animation. There’s nowhere we need to be, enough pico de gallo to go around, and the promise of warmer weather in the air.