The spirits culture is not one in which I’m well-versed. I used to be a bit more invested in bar knowledge. If you saw my personal stash, you’d think I was a lush. I have top rail bottles that put some bona fide mixologists to shame. Let’s just say my work allows me exposure to more drinks than I care to. I don’t know 10 bits about proper cocktailing, but I know a good drink when I have one.
I stepped away from any and all kinds of libations for over two years. Oddly, I was so fine with it. I didn’t miss it. Surely don’t need it. But reality is that my work requires basic knowledge of alcohol. At least wine. I score bigger when I can recommend a good glass of red or a bright white with the food I’m making. Also, it does help the creative process in the kitchen — having a glass in hand as you navigate the kitchen antics.
For no other reason other than wanting to, I’ve slowly — on a sloth kind of pace — started to reintroduce spirits back into my lifestyle. It should be of no surprise my default choice is bubbly. The pink kind. I sip on that almost exclusively. Very little else leaves me in awe. Plus, I just don’t have any measurable sense of tolerance.
But in the midst of becoming reacquainted, I kind of found myself having a moment with a certain mix that opened me to appreciate the art of mixing.
I was in Boise, Idaho last week exploring their food scene — one that left me happily perplexed. Somehow the lines of communication related I was there to study their cocktail scene. Quite actually, far from my purpose, but somewhat in line. Instantly I had a calendar replete with tastings. For now, I’ll only share my first stop, which set the bar for my 3-day visit.
The Modern Hotel & Bar boasts igniting the cocktail scene and etching the standard in that small town. The 10-seater bar moves at the pace of a Manhattan spot without the sass or suave aethestic. Remi, a Frenchman, has learned that midwest talk. He’s also one of the three masterminds behind the mid-century styled rail.
Their program, led by Michael whom originally started out there as a busboy, is all about homaging the old war classics in a fun, nuevuo way. There’s no real secret or interest in making fusion drinks to leave you spellbound. They simply want to make solid cocktails that invite the locals and not just hotel guests. The menu has about 10 drinks. The names are cute but not cheesy. And if they were, it wouldn’t matter. Because after 90-minutes of visiting with the owner and Michael, my libation experience went to another level.
I asked them to treat it as a wine tasting; small samplings I could swish and spit out. Okay. Noted.
Only when I connected with my first choice, I was in. All in.
The Final Say is not sexy-looking. It’s quite average at first sight. I’d even say it’s not appealing. But that’s when you have to know what you’re getting into and just trust the shakers.
I had one sip and instantly knew I was in love. The green chartreuse is what called my name to being with. It did not disappoint. It was strong but smooth. Flowery but not sweet. Aromatic but not girly. It was so perfect.
I tried two others I understand only make cameo appearances during fall and winter. They equally tickled my fancy. In fact, one beat out the Final Say. But that one deserves its own post, too. Because it’s topped anything I’ve ever had in the realm of cocktails.
I learned this: When in Boise, make it a point to sit that the Modern Hotel and Bar.
You’ll leave speechless. Even if just for a few seconds.
THE FINAL SAY c/o The Modern Hotel & Bar
- 3/4 oz. Fernet-Branca
- 3/4 oz. Green Chartreuse
- 3/4 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
- 3/4 oz. Luxardo Maraschino
Add all ingredients to cold shaker. Shake well. Double strain. Serve in Old Fashioned glass.