Morton's the Steakhouse, 1511 Sixth Ave.
Bartender: Alberto Espino
What's your favorite drink? A Mart—er, "Mortini"
Why this drink? Espino's a company man, having worked at this Morton's since 1999 and another Morton's in Chicago before that. So it's fitting that his drink of choice invokes the name of Arnold Morton, Chi-town steak baron (and co-founder of the first Playboy Club, for the geriatric hornsters out there). Espino shakes Stoli Elite vodka and funnels it into a glass with three crunchy, blue-cheese-stuffed green olives. A floating layer of what looks like cheese oil on the vodka turns out, thankfully, to be ice crystals. "Shake it real hard, make it real cold—it kills the blue-cheese taste," he says. The liquid is smooth, sweet, and as potent as a head-on collision.
The privilege of quaffing this Mor-drink (Espino also makes a "Mor-jito") will cost you $15.75, which the bartender says is a bargain for Stoli Elite. Another bargain comes in the form of complimentary filet mignon sandwiches, served on a silver platter from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. The steak is pink, lathered with mayo and mustard, and squished between tablet-shaped buns: the best pill your doctor will never prescribe for you. Since the powerbrokers on the bar stool next to me seemed preoccupied with the downfall of the country—"Something's coming, you can bet on it," is one line that sticks in memory—making a dinner of them seemed the smart thing to do.
— John Metcalfe
Drinks at Top of the Hilton
My friend Christopher, who introduced me to Top of the Hilton, called it "the place you take someone when you're having an affair," but then later admitted he may have read that in an earlier Weekly review. So clandestine is this downtown oasis that the elevator doesn't even give a floor number; just get in (the building's main entrance is at 1301 Sixth Ave., at University) and press T. The view sweeps from the Two Union Square courtyard, full of bare trees spangled with white lights, to Elliott Bay; Christopher says the sunsets are gorgeous. The bar/restaurant's mellow mood, as you sit there floating above Seattle, is almost magically relaxing and conducive to conversation. Open for lunch and weekend brunch, too, it's especially delicious after an evening spent at Benaroya, the Paramount, or the 5th Avenue (or before, if you go for the $40 prix fixe pretheater dinner, 5–7 p.m.) My lemon drop ($7) was perfect, smooth as the low, golden lighting.
— Gavin Borchert
Early Word on Vodka and Gin Out of Spokane
I finally got to try the new Dry Fly vodka and gin this week, spirits distilled in our very own Spokane. (Backstory here.) Wow and wow.
The vodka: It's not duodeca-distilled like all the other mass-market vodkas available. The flavors are clean and bright, but there's still a residual aroma and flavor, more like a fine Japanese shochu, that gives you a hint at the grain that made the booze. This is a very pleasing, sipping vodka. Not right for olives, I'd go for a twist.
The gin: It's not juniper heavy; Dry Fly's gin is floral and fruity, more in the Hendrick's camp than the Tanqueray school. I kept smelling vague hints of somewhere between pear, apple, and currant, with a little peppery spice. Again, olives wouldn't be quite right with this spirit, I'd go for an orange or lemon twist or a light squeeze of lime. I wouldn't do anything more than a splash of Lillet or Calvados because it'd be a shame to cover up what Don Poffenroth gave it.
Not available for store purchase by us regular folk just yet (come on, LCB, get it together!), ask your local barkeep if they plan on carrying it. With the way restaurants cheerlead for local wines, I expect many to fall all over themselves to stock Dry Fly.
In other neutral spirit news... Maui's Ocean Vodka, the organic, viscous deep seawater–based spirit that I wrote about a few months ago, isn't available in wide distribution in our state, but establishments can special order it. However, some liquor stores have started stocking it for single bottle purchase, namely: Seattle store #101 on Fourth Avenue South, store #96 in U Village, store #119 in Sammamish, and the Gig Harbor store #646. Call ahead to double-check.
— Maggie Dutton