Cosmos, Martinis, Singapore Slings, Manhattans, Margaritas…what do they all have in common…they’re overdone and usually quite boring. Hendrick’s Gin, St. Germain, rose water, unfiltered apple juice, rose extract, simple syrup and a rose garnish…these are the ingredients that make up the Frankly Scarlett at the newly re-opened Mood Lounge…and if a drink could ever be described as dramatic it’s this one. This is not the same old place with different owners; the folks behind Mood toned down the décor a bit (no more cheetah print facades or neon pink walls) while placing an emphasis on rare spirits, quality ingredients and knowledgeable staff.
Of course if you want a Jack & Coke they would be more than happy to oblige, but the true value here comes from their original and pre-prohibition/classic cocktail lists, of which they have about 20 of each. We sampled five drinks, two originals and three classics, and really enjoyed them all. The aforementioned Frankly Scarlett was one of the most interesting, and unless you are well trained, it would be hard to identify this as a gin based drink. The combination of the rose water, extract and the rose garnish made for an incredible bouquet of aromas that really benefited from being served in the wide-rimmed wine glass; make sure your nose passes the rim, take a big whiff, and be prepared to be amazed!
The other original cocktail we tried couldn’t have been more opposite; as delicate is the Frankly Scarlett was, the Thai Tomato Chip was in your face, bursting with big flavors and heat from the sriracha and wasabi; it’s basically an Asian play on a Bloody Mary, but made with tomato water to keep it lighter…and for the record I do not generally like Bloody Marys,but this drink was killer.
Switching sides to the “classic” menu, we tried a Hugo’s Aviation and the Martinez; both gin based drinks, as most early cocktails were. We then wrapped up the visit with a perfect rendition of the timeless classic, The Old Fashioned. Again, all the drinks were made with hard to find spirits and top quality ingredients; the Aviation contained Berkshire Mountain Ethereal gin, lemon juice, maraschino liqueur, simple syrup and Crème de Violette Liqueur. I am definitely not the world’s expert (not even close) on libations, so many of these spirits were new to me and really added to the complexity of the drinks; the Crème de Violette was my favorite, as it added a subtle delicateness to the Aviation.
Here’s another shot of the Aviation from afar; it gets its name from the appearance of the drink when looking at it from the side…it appears to look like the horizon from the view of a cockpit.
Next up was the Martinez, which some will say was the first cocktail ever made, which is made with 50 pound gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur, Angostura Bitters and a lemon twist; it’s basically the predecessor to the modern martini. The sweetness from the liqueur and the bitters make for a very satisfying concoction when paired with the gin; it has definitely earned a spot on my go to list.
We finished up with one of my old reliables, the Old Fashioned; this version contained Elijah Craig Bourbon, Angostura bitters, sugar cube, Amarena cherries, orange and Fever Tree Soda. This drink is not for the meek of heart, as the bourbon is 94 proof and the drink gets a healthy dose of it; a picture of this drink should accompany the definition of a “sipper”. It’s very complex and layered (never stirred or shaken), so you get a different taste as you make your way through the glass…and the cherries are anything but Maraschino; full of deep flavor and none of that candy ass sweet-syrupy crap.
Mood also has a small food menu consisting of small plates; everything from olives to mushroom bruschetta to sandwiches like a grilled Cuban Panini and BBQ sliders. Due to the amount of alcohol being consumed we figured it would be in our best interest to sample some of the food, and while good, the drinks definitely remain the star attraction.
Besides the food and drink, Mood also has great bartenders that are true practitioners and students of their craft; they are full of knowledge and can educate on the history of every drink and spirit in the house. The last thing I really liked was their location; tucked away on a side street surrounded by single story homes that were turned into commercial businesses, so there’s very little traffic and noise coming from the street. Sipping a cocktail on a late spring afternoon could almost be considered meditative. At this point in the afternoon we were feeling no pain and euphoria had started to set in…everything was right in the world, if only for a few precious minutes.