Is Cocktailing With Metaxa a Mistake?

Bar Dojo, the smart new Asian-influenced restaurant up in Edmonds, serves plenty of sophisticated dishes that diners don't typically associate with Snohomish County, such as red curry Penn Cove mussels; pork belly ramen; wild salmon laksa and grilled short ribs accompanied by spicy Brussels sprouts. But one entry on the cocktail menu would qualify as exotic even by Seattle standards.

The base spirit of "The Way" is Metaxa, a Greek brandy that's usually consigned to the cordials section of drinks lists. Owner Andrew Leckie developed the drink to showcase the liquor he learned to love while traveling in Greece.

"A lot of people carry it, but not a lot of people use it," Leckie says. "Obviously, it's not Asian, but I really like the flavor."

Spirits writer Darcy O'Neill has described Metaxa as "unique, but very pleasant," noting its smoothness and botanical character. His assessment was kind: In a 2007 Seattle Weekly story, self-professed fan Maggie Dutton praised the aged brandy, wine and herbal liqueur for being "the only widely available Greek spirit that (does) not taste like Good & Plenty-laced diesel."


Distributors of Metaxa have occasionally pushed the mixing potential of the five-year Metaxa, staging a Seattle cocktail competition in 2009. Still, bartenders haven't exactly embraced the stuff: Paul Clarke, who served as a contest judge, remembers a Metaxa sidecar on various Tom Douglas menus, and Marjorie two years ago made a Metaxa sidecar the showpiece of its happy hour menu. But Metaxa is still a mystery to many industry professionals, including the Dojo server who took my order.

"It's a bourbon," she assured me.

I wasn't crazy for the Metaxa's oily floral sweetness, which wasn't mitigated by the supporting Cointreau or Maraschino liqueur. As much as I appreciate Leckie's happy Hellenic memories, I think I'll stick with a Dojo 75 (gin, lemon juice and ginger simple syrup) when I'm next in Edmonds eating crispy chicken wings with chili lime sauce.

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