‘A Scottish Restaurant Needs to Have Scotch’ — Board Backs Booze for The Haven

File photo: Peggy Hunter, left, of Walpole, shares a poem with Andy Sweeney, bartender at The Haven, on Sept. 18, 2014.

Chris Helms

File photo: Peggy Hunter, left, of Walpole, shares a poem with Andy Sweeney, bartender at The Haven, on Sept. 18, 2014.

The Haven gained a neighborhood board’s support for its goal of getting a full liquor license.

JP resident Monica Salas, speaking in favor of the idea, put it simply: “A Scottish restaurant needs to have Scotch.”

The Public Service Committee of the JP Neighborhood Council met Tuesday in the teachers’ lounge at the JFK School. The board voted 4-0 to recommend supporting an all-alcohol license for the 2 Perkins St. pub.

Owner Jason Waddleton said the 45-seat restaurant, which has an 8-seat bar, would be responding to consistent demand from customers.

“We do get a lot of requests for it in the restaurant,” Waddleton told the 15 or so attendees of Tuesday’s meeting.

The Haven has a hybrid license that allows “cordials” — which must be made from infusions. Here’s a list of the cocktails that The Haven makes within those limits. But guest haven’t been able to end their visits with a wee dram of Laphroaig (or any other single malt.)

Alison Moronta, JP Neighborhood Development Corp., left, and Jason Waddleton, owner of The Haven

Chris Helms, reproduced by courtesy of arrangement with El Mundo.

Alison Moronta, JP Neighborhood Development Corp., left, and Jason Waddleton, owner of The Haven

Waddleton said that in the six years the pub has been open, there have been several big moments where the lack of a full liquor license made itself felt especially much. As Boston’s only Scottish bar and restaurant, it was packed during the Scottish independence referendum in 2014.

“If only we’d had Scotch!” Waddleton recalled thinking.

Members of the JPNC committee asked Waddleton if his staff was prepared to manage how much more quickly visitors could get drunk. The Haven has had alcohol violations in the past. Four years ago, the Licensing Board shuttered the pub for two days in punishment for it serving drinks after hours.

Another resident, Bynner Street’s David Plastino, said rowdiness won’t be a problem.

“If you were looking for a place to go to for shots, you could not pick a worse place,” said Plastino, who was married at The Haven.

Another resident, Richard Neal, based his support for the license in part on The Haven’s longevity in Hyde Square.

“We see so many times signs come and go,” Neal said. “It’s become an anchor in a part of Jamaica Plain that needs one.”

No one spoke in opposition to the license.

Several hurdles remain before The Haven will be pouring any Scotch, however. For one, Waddleton said he does not yet have the all-alcohol license. He told Jamaica Plain News before the meeting that he’d seek one of the restricted booze licenses being made available under an economic development program spearheaded by City Councilor Ayanna Pressley. Outside this pool of new licenses, existing licenses can demand six figures.

Other steps include the full JPNC accepting the committee’s nomination, the Boston Licensing Board giving its approval and a parallel state board agreeing. While the JPNC does not have formal power, its recommendations are often heeded by City Hall.

The pub has an online petition going to support its effort to gain a full liquor license. As of Tuesday night it had 448 signatures.

  • Hugo_JP

    Funny to see that folks on the JPNC think it harder to get drunk on a “cordial” than regular liquor. A cordial is just vodka/rum/gin/whiskey with sugar and some flavors added to it – the alcohol content is not different. In fact, “cordial” vodka/rum/gin/whiskey can have a higher proof but the sugar content needs to be at least 2.5% So if anything, it might be easier to get drunk faster on cordials because they’re sweeter, more tasty and can have a higher alcohol content.

    • Robert Ellis

      I’m not sure they’ve even thought that deeply on it. They just know if a business wants it, it must be bad.

      • Hugo_JP

        That’s the scary part. JPNC is the gatekeeper but they don’t even understand the issue.

    • JamaicaPlainNews

      Thanks for the context, Hugo_JP. The owner said as much at Tuesday’s meeting.

  • Money is Powerful

    Give em’ the license! The City of Boston needs to deal with bigger issues. It is quite insipid to not give them a license. The puritanical roots of arguments against this are contradictory. The sky is not falling. It’s just booze.

    Also, don’t forget to to vote to legalize cannabis come November. We need to move forward with the times people. Let’s quit wagging our fingers at each other and unite.

  • paul

    I don’t know many people who drink straight scotch. Those that do aren’t drunk aggressive frat boys.

  • Issue the license.

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