Portrait of Haley Fortier, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Haley Fortier
Boston, Massachusetts, USA


That the menu’s cheese and charcuterie section at Fenway wine bar nathálie is titled ‘Tits and Ass’ neatly flags the signature style of its owner, maverick sommelier Haley Fortier. While a passionate, ceiling-busting champion of natural, sustainable, small-production and especially female winemakers, Haley has also striven to de-pedestal oenophilia – “it’s just juice, bottled” – in her mission to bring a challenging but chill wine bar scene to Boston.

“I’ve always loved those intimate, darkly lit, sexy spaces I’d find visiting New York,” says the Woodsville, New Hampshire native, “And we had nothing like that  here.” Her first response was to open haley.henry in the financial district’s Downtown Crossing area in 2016, with nathálie’s launch following two years later. Each has a distinct food concept and regularly changing wine list, but both share a core formula of elevated, simple dishes and an adventurous wine list made accessible by a policy of opening any bottle for a two-glass commitment. And as her businesses’ stack of awards and accolades – not to mention numerous other recently opened wine bars in the city – attest, the exuberant irreverence of her presentation compromises neither quality nor ambition.

With both establishments Haley has relished the opportunity to “be part of the blueprint of a new vision for a neighbourhood”, and carved a refreshing niche in the new cultural offerings major redevelopment projects in both Downtown Crossing and Fenway have realised over the last decade. “Fenway has much more of a community feel now. Fenway Park” – the world’s oldest baseball stadium and home of Boston’s beloved Red Sox – “is just down the street, so naturally sports bars are still big. Alongside that, lots of new independent stores have opened, and the beautiful old Landmark Center is now home to the Time Out market” – a high-end food hall showcasing local purveyors from established restaurants to craft breweries to artisan gelaterias.

Haley’s Fenway address has also given her a plum vantage point on the changing face of Boston’s LGBTQ+ scene, which as in so many major cities in the United States has shape-shifted with the advent of dating apps – and, arguably, increased societal integration. “The classic gay club Machine, just up the road, closed in 2020, and can you believe there are zero lesbian bars in Boston currently? But the city still has Club Café and some other gay staples, and I’ve heard there’s a new women’s space, Dani’s Queer Bar, on the way. And my general manager and I have been talking about doing a lesbian social here. I hope so. I’d love that.”

www.nathaliebar.com | www.haleyhenry.com

Photography courtesy of Haley Fortier

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