Friday, May 22, 2009

Cocktails on My Mind

A little play at the Back Door Theatre brought us to the Hawthorne district last Friday night, and we stopped in at the Sapphire Hotel on SE 50th & Hawthorne for a drink. This was my second visit to the long-past hotel lobby, which is now a bar serving inventive cocktails and small plates. I love the intimate atmosphere with dark wood, candlelight, and throw pillows.

The plates I've tried are pretty good. We tried the cheese platter a number of months ago, and it was impressive with a basic, but very nice assortment of cheeses, fruits, and nuts. The guacamole on Friday night was fine, though nothing special (see The Guacamole Experiment). Unfortunately, the house drink concoctions, though intriguing, were disappointing. I so wanted to like the Concierge – cucumber infused gin with Pimms, lemonade, and ginger beer – but the combination just didn't work for me. Friday, I went for Going Up? – serrano pepper infused tequila, cilantro, lime juice, and sweet & sour with a salted rim. This drink was better. I loved the heat of the pepper infused tequila, and the cilantro was nice, but it was a lot of sweet, not much sour, and the salted rim just didn't work for me. I think the mixologist may be trying too hard. There's way too much going on with these drinks, at least for my palette.

For a muddled cilantro drink, I much prefer the Ad Lib – vodka, cilantro, and lemon lime juice, with a sugared rim – at Mint/820 on N Russell. Apparently you can order a spicy version of this drink for $1 extra! Mmmm, I'll have to try that next time. 820 also makes an unbelievably good Avocado Daiquiri, and their signature drink, Mint – rum, mint, grapefruit juice, soda, and a splash of bitter – is also excellent. You can find recipes for most of 820's drinks in owner and mixologist, Lucy Brennan's book, Hip Sips.

One more favorite drink can be found at Yakuza Lounge at NE 30th & Killingsworth. The Basil Honey with tequila, basil, honey, and lime is heavenly. The menu has changed quite a bit since I visited, but I tried several small dishes when I dined there last summer and had a truly enjoyable meal.

Have a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend, and please drink responsibly!

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