The Watering Hole: Monsoon East, 10245 Main St., 425-635-1112, BELLEVUE
The Atmosphere: Monsoon East is one of Bellevue's most celebrated restaurants. Its warm lighting, beautiful accents, and cozy seating coax diners into the arms of a giant Vietnamese hug. The food is spot-on; even the tofu coming out of the kitchen is exciting. The bar is a bright distraction from the dimly lit dining room, where diners seem to be head-down, enthralled with what's on their plate.
The Barkeep: Noah Momyer has been at Monsoon East for seven months, following a stint at Mistral Kitchen. Originally from Southern California, Momyer has been a Seattleite about three years, and the weather hasn't scared him off. "When it's nice, you realize all the things you have to do out here, and it's great," he says. "I went to Discovery Park for the first time a couple of weeks ago."
Another thing on Momyer's discovery list: bars. "I like hitting dive bars on the way home, and just having a shot and a beer after making cocktails all night. For good drinks, I like The Innkeeper. I live in Belltown, so I've been going there. They're awesome. They know what they're doing. They have a great liquor selection, which is pretty rare for Belltown. Spur is great. Of course there's also Canon, Mistral Kitchen, and Zig Zag."
The Drink: A Ricardo, Momyer's take on a Rickey. It's made with two kinds of gin: one infused with wu wei tea, the other with plums (Averell Damson gin liqueur). Fresh lime juice and agave nectar are also added before the whole thing is topped with soda water and served on the rocks.
The Verdict: It may look like your average "pink drink," but the Ricardo has more body and substance. It's very refreshing, not overly alcoholic, and a tad on the sweet side. The tea-infused gin is the prominent flavor, which is great if you're not accustomed to the herbal notes of wu wei.