Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Happy Hour Haunt: To Naga, With Love

Suffering Bastard, Corpse Reviver, Artillerymen's Punch, Coral Dove -- no, we didn't hit Emerald Downs to watch the ponies after work on a lazy summer evening. These are a small sample of the unique anthology of cocktails on Chantanee's drink menu. The Prime has covered the newly-relocated Bellevue Thai favorite in older blog entries, but the highly-touted bar area, Naga, had not yet been christened by the entity that is the Happy Hour Martini Mafia. The whole gang was unfortunately not able to convene, but we few, we happy few (yours truly, GGirl, and Mr. S), met for a short spell to sample this Eastside oasis and see if the buzz surrounding Naga was worth the hullabaloo. No need to wait for a dramatic pause, I believe we have reason to raise a glass in celebration, for we have a winner. Please pass the spiced nuts.

Jules from Pulp Fiction would agree, this is one tasty beverage - photo by Wasabi Prime

Naga's happy hour runs the standard 4pm to 6pm, and it offers a recession-friendly discount on its impressive menu of signature cocktails, so instead of going for a typical brewski after workski, give one of these refreshing little dittys a try. These aren't syrupy, overly-fruity affairs with oversugared rims in unnatural Crayola colors. I had the pleasure of experiencing the Kaffir Fling, a drink created by Canadian bartender David Wolowidnyk in ye olde year of 2007 -- they include the drink's provenance on the menu. Booze and a history lesson -- shazam! A mix of vodka and lime with a hint of sweetness, this simple sour is topped with a frothy head of egg white and a sprinkle of ginger spice, with a fresh kaffir lime leaf nestled in the cloudy foam. These are no mere drinks, they are libations.

Eat, drink, be merry, and then drink some more - Photos by Wasabi Prime

In the swirling sea of cosmo-poma-tini-whatevers that swarm most bar menus, it's a rare blessing to enjoy something made with such deliberate care, as they possess a nuance and layering of flavors that are as interesting to the palate as a gourmet meal. The bartender was extremely knowledgeable in the many glittering bottles of liqueurs, spirits, and other potables within the bar's liquid library. There were many drinks being sampled, from the more familiar mojito, to obscure variations on an herbaceous julep. Among the display of bottled bitters, there was one pear-shaped flagon of murky amber liquid that had a cobra, entwined with another small snake within the bottle's glass belly. Yes, for reals. We skipped a taste of that one, but we sampled a photo or two -- apologies for the seemingly drunken focus. A digital SLR, a digital SLR -- my kingdom for a DSLR!

Not to forget the solids to go with the liquids, the Martini Mafia sampled the nibble-worthy Sundried Pork and Beef and Thai Spiced Mixed Nuts from Naga's bar menu, and then indulged with the Crispy Garlic Chicken and some fried rice from their dining menu.

Yes, that's really a snake in a bottle. And yes, that's really chicken on the plate - Photos by Wasabi Prime

Chantanee was wise to bring in the wisdom of mixologist Andrew Bohrer to bless the Eastside with an amazing offering of drinks that I have never heard of, but want to get to know better. He also has an impressive blog, Caskstrength, which goes into great detail over the artistry and philosophy of life behind the bar. Cheers to Mr. Bohrer, Chantanee and Naga, as well as my Martini Mafiosos who could make it out for the night!

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  1. We should go for lunch sometime! Get the "work friendly" cocktails. ;-)

  2. Crispy fried chicken = heavely chicken.


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