Coqktail Club – Vivanda Ristorante
Monday April 18th the Cocktail Club met at Vivanda Ristorante in Pike Place Market. Our official meeting time was 7:00 but a couple of us got there on the early side to catch the tail end of Happy Hour.
I was a little hesitant when K selected this as our location. I like the chef, Peter Levine; I like his food – he’s been at several events that I attend around town and always has something interesting to offer. However, in the past my experience at Vivanda has been rather lackluster.
When I arrived JB was already there and was sipping on an Old Fashioned. It took several minutes for the bartender to acknowledge me (the bar was not even 1/4 full) and I asked about what was on Happy Hour. The answer: $5 wine; $4 wells; $3 beer. I decided to start with a basic G & T – it was nice and sunny out and I was in a summer cocktail mood. We were soon joined by R and K. K also went with a G & T, while R decided to try something a little different. She’d been wanting to try Stoli Cran and ordered it on the rocks with a little lime. She wasn’t that fond of it, thought it was a bit medicinal, but we decided it was her own fault for ordering it like she did. :-) All other drinks were good. KA joined us and ordered a Tangueray Martini up and dry. It was a very generous drink.
At this point we were strung out along the bar and asked if it was okay to move to a booth (they were all empty) and the bartender tried to discourage us but we moved anyway. (Booths hold 4 and we were 5, expecting a 6th, JH to show soon). We added a barstool to the end of the table and we were happy as clams.
For our second round I asked the bartender what his specialty was – what he liked to mix. And he couldn’t answer me! I find this very sad – obviously this was just a job for him, although I know he’s been there for at least a couple years. Anyway, he finally suggested some drinks based on a new liquor they were carrying. It’s called Ciroc and is a grape-based vodka. KA ordered a "Ciroc du Soleil" and K ordered a drink based on the same liquor but the bartender couldn’t really remember they name they’d given it. I decided to stick with gin and went with a Negroni. R went with Absolut Mandarin on the rocks.
When this round of drinks arrived we were amazed! They were beautifully prepared, and the garnishes were exquisite! We discussed how this change in attitude and presentation came about! Some thought it was because the bartender noticed me taking notes – I wasn’t really trying to hide my little book – but I thought it was more likely due to the fact that we engaged him and showed a real interest in our selections. Either way the results were amazing.
K’s no name drink had a beautiful set of citrus leaves, skewered on a pick and then splayed for full effect. My Negroni had one of the most gorgeous citrus spirals ever. I can’t remember exactly what was in KA’s cocktail but it was also created with care.
Vodka made from grapes is still just a vodka, no grape taste, but it was a nice vodka and the drinks were good. JB decided to order a Spanish Coffee – this is starting to become his reviewing specialty! The glass was nicely crusted with sugar (although I like to see cinnamon, too) and the drink was piping hot – that was a nice bonus.
Only R ordered food. She had the calamari. It is beautifully presented but was a bit of a surprise, which I remembered from past orders once it was delivered. It’s basically calamari in a red sauce stacked into a little column. Although it is good, the menu description leads you to believe it would be more of a fried-calamari dish.
So I’d say our experience was so-so, starting out on the uninspiring side and then moving uphill to a delightful experience. If only they could guarantee the delightful piece of it – I’d be back way more often!
Our next meeting is May 23rd. JB is in charge of selecting our location. Look for an update a day or two later ~
95 Pine Street
Fax: (206) 442-1141
Happy Hour: 5:00 – 7:00 daily