Robin works near Pike Place Market and I had an errand downtown, so we rendezvoused at the Zig Zag Cafe. This is a cocktail bar like no other. Their cocktail list is inventive and unique and the walls behind the bar are lined with rare, imported liqueurs. There pretty much isn't a cocktail around that they can't make here.
We made it there in time for happy hour and the place was packed. We found two stools at the bar however, which turned out to be a very auspicious beginning to our evening. We started off with a Diablo & Satan's Soul Patch. I was in the mood for Tequila and Robin was craving Bourbon. Can you blame her though, I mean how can you resist a name like Satan's Soul Patch?
The bartender came by just before 7pm to tell us it was the last call for happy hour. Surveying the menu, I chose the Prado. This cocktail includes Tequila, Maraschino, lime and egg white. I have always wanted to try a cocktail with whipped egg whites.
The Prado had was almost milky white in color and had a unique cherry flavor to it. Almost nutty. I suspected this wasn't the maraschino of Shirley Temple fame. I caught the eye of our bartender - Murray - and asked him about it. Well, first he corrected my pronunciation - mara-skeeno (dammit - I should have known that. 'Ch' followed by an i or e always has that hard 'kee' sound. Like 'bru-skehta.' Not 'bru-shetta'). Then he poured me a little glass of Maraschino to sample. It was really nutty - almost like orgeat.
So, as Murray and I chatted I also commented on the wall of bitters and the tray holding what I suspected to be little vials of tinctures and gastriques. He said - you really know your stuff. I said, well, I am learning...
Well - being inquisitive has its rewards. Murray saw the opportunity to educate us and gave us tons of samples to try.
First there was the Maraschino, then he had a us try something called the Aviation. The Aviation includes Maraschino along with Gin and lemon juice. This got us asking Murray about Gin, so he poured us a little taste of Dry Fly Gin from Oregon - tasty but kind of mild. Robin loved the Aviation though, so Murray next made a more traditional version of the Aviation - this time with Creme de Violette. Whoa - that was much better. We tried a little Violette straight and it was so tasty - really florally and sweet.
Evidently Creme de Violette is really hard to get. It can't be imported into the US - or at least not Washington state. I told Murray I travel a lot and gave him my card so if he needs anything from Europe I can hook him up. When I told him I travel a lot to Scandinavia, he poured me some Swedish Punsch. Not a high point for Scandinavian spirits, I must admit. It smelled like the inside of a mylar balloon and didn't taste much better.
Back to Gin. One of my favorites of the evening was the Arsenic & Old Lace: Gin, Absinthe, Creme de Violette and Vermouth. By this time I had to take a picture of what we had in front of us.
Thankfully I didn't drink everything. Sampled it all yes - that was all part of the education.