First published on The Spirit World in April 2006.
Last Monday the Cocktail Club gathered to check out a fairly new lounge in town, Suite 410. They’ve actually been open 6 months or so and some time back R and I, working from various snippets of information, had tried to stop by on the spur of the moment but couldn’t find the place (mostly because we didn’t remember the exact name, which also happens to be the address and we knew the vicinity but not the actual street – I’d say we were doomed from the get-go). RH was very familiar with the place, though, and had given it a tentative thumbs up. The tentative was only because the owners had been toying with the idea of changing the focus and drink menu to have broader appeal (read: change to sugary, sweet cocktails), but so far they have resisted.
I arrived shortly before 7:00 and found out I was at the tail end of Happy Hour. Too bad their website doesn’t have useful information like the fact they have Happy Hour (and I also wish they had their menu online). Oh well, I’ll file that little bit info away for future use. It’s a nice Happy Hour menu, too. Martinis, Manhattans, and some specialty drinks are all $5, well drinks are $4 and there was also some discount on beers and wines, I believe. They had a little buffet set up along one window, however there was quite a large group blocking access to it so I didn’t check it out.
Several things about the place that I liked: hydraulic bar stools – fun!; purse hooks under the bar – always a plus; the dark woods and overall ambiance; the bartenders – very friendly and personable; and, with slight exceptions, we liked the cocktails, too. The only thing I didn’t care for is that the place is really loud so it’s hard to have any sort of conversation with anyone except the person sitting right beside you. The music was a bit on the loud side but really it seems that the design of the bar itself is the main issue. There are lots of hard surfaces and big windows that seem to bounce the conversations all over the place. It’s not so bad as to keep me from going back, but I’d never bring a group there again. Then again, I don’t think that was really what they had in mind when they opened the place, anyway.
There were six of us at this gathering: R, JH, C; MJ and EM, two newbies; and me. Between all of us we tried nearly all cocktails highlighted on the menu and some were sampled more than once. Some standouts were the Hot Mango Love, which has been mentioned in other reviews and has the definite stamp of its creator Ryan Magarian who was the menu consultant; the Pisco Sour – frothy, thirst-quenching and sporting a nice sprinkle of fresh nutmeg; the Bellini, properly made with white peach puree; the Black Cherry Swizzle – a tart and light cherry mixture, although they could do away with the Maraschino garnish; and the Grapefruit Cosmo that was actually made without the normal grapefruit vodka as they were out of it.
The Quince Mustard Margarita was good but we couldn’t quite figure out the quince mustard element. The Grapefruit Margarita was described by MJ as needing a bit of smoothing. Pretty small nits in the scheme of things. I know we’ll all be back to Suite 410 soon – especially for Happy Hour.
At $5 for their premium drinks, it’s one of the best deals in town!
410 Stewart St