The Classic Cocktail Comeback

The classic cocktail is reminiscent of a swankier era when sophisticated drinks were sipped and savored, but well- made cocktails with fresh ingredients have never gone completely out of style. And now, classic cocktails with modern twists are very much in vogue. The renewed interest in classic cocktails is rooted in nostalgia and is in keeping with the “slow food” movement. Classic cocktails have returned to lounges and eateries in full force. In today’s cocktail culture, bartenders are “liquid artists,” and “mixology ” is considered as much a skill and science as making beer and wine. Savvy bartenders can tailor your favorite cocktail to your exact specifications, but they can also expand your palate with cocktails that are cutting-edge. Whether stirred, shaken or muddled, a well-crafted drink is a work of art, and the Inland Northwest can proudly claim some of the country’s finest of cocktail masters.



Italia Trattoria, an intimate and delightful eatery that serves rustic Italian cuisine, is located in Spokane’s historic Browne’s Addition. Its fresh, local food is matched by its drinks. They too are made with local ingredients whenever possible and with fresh juices. Order a Barrel-Aged Negroni, a rich specialty cocktail. Captive Spirits Big Gin, Campari, Cocchi Premium and sweet vermouth are aged in-house for six weeks in toasted American oak barrels. The resulting worth-the-wait libation is slightly sweet with traces of spice, vanilla and tangy herbs. For a new twist on the timeless Manhattan, try a Figgy Manhattan. It’s made with Maker’s Mark bourbon, Cocchi sweet vermouth, Bittermens cinnamon, allspice bitters and fig. 144 South Cannon Street, Spokane, WA. 509.459.6000 www.italiatrattoriaspokane. com

Clover, a new restaurant that occupies a renovated home near Gonzaga university, has a serious commitment to cocktails. Paul Harrington, one of the proprietors, was a standout San Francisco bartender and is a notable spirits author. His expertise is reflected in Clover’s well-trained bartenders whose drinks can give your palate a whirl. Hemingway’s Daiquiri is a tasty drink made with light rum, lime and grapefruit juices, and maraschino liqueur. For those who favor traditional cocktails, Clover offers the entire lineup of classic cocktails. Try their Old Fashioned, a congenial mingling of bourbon whiskey, simple syrup and bitters.  The made-from-scratch cocktails pair nicely with Clover’s innovative cuisine. 911 East Sharp Avenue, Spokane, WA. 509.487.2937 www.cloverspokane. com

The Peacock Room is nestled inside the luxe Davenport Hotel in downtown Spokane. With its sumptuous décor, the bar leaves visitors feeling like celebrities—and for good reason. It has a rat- pack style ambiance, and it’s rich in history. John F. Kennedy, Babe Ruth, Teddy Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart, Bing Crosby and Clark Gable are among the notables who have stayed at the Davenport since it opened in 1914. The Peacock Room is a great bar in which to begin your evening or have a nightcap. Try a classic double martini made with gin and dry vermouth, and garnished with blue-cheese-stuffed olives. On weekends, you can catch live jazz and see things really swing. 10 South Post Street, Spokane, WA. 509.455.8888

For 122 years the Spokane Club, located downtown, has been a prominent social club for the city’s business and civic leaders. It has witnessed social and cultural changes, but its outstanding cuisine and drinks have remained constant. Burgundy’s, one of the dining options at the Spokane Club, features impeccably fresh Northwest fare with a European flair. It has received awards for its wine list, and its bartenders know how to mix a drink. Try the Inferno Martini, which was created for
eastern washington university. although its recipe is a secret, it is described as fiery, tangy and spicy. If you like a classic Manhattan, then you’ll want to order The Governess. It’s made with Maker’s Mark bourbon, Grande Marnier, a dash of cinnamon and an orange twist. 1002 West Riverside Avenue, Spokane, WA. 509.838.8511

O’Doherty’s Irish Grille is located directly across the street from Riverfront Park in downtown Spokane. You can enjoy pub fare, as well as other Irish favorites. The Car Bomb, a concoction that  contains Guinness, Irish whiskey and Irish cream, is a popular drink with those stationed at nearby Fairchild Air Force Base. O’Doherty’s is family-owned. They encourage you stand on the bar and sing. After all, it’s tradition. 525 West Spokane Falls Blvd, Spokane, WA. 509.747.0322

Wild Sage American Bistro, also in downtown, is consistently top-rated. It is known for its imaginative cuisine and its drinks. Along with classic cocktails, it serves up signature cocktails. The Rob-jito, named for its bartender creator, offers a twist on a mojito. It is composed of two shots of Hornitos tequila, muddled cucumber, fresh cilantro and lime juice. Another libation to try is the Ruby Sidecar: house pomegranate infused brandy complemented with ruby port and citrus juice, served in a sugar-rimmed glass. 916 West 2nd, Spokane, WA. 509.456.7575 www.

Airway Heights

Northern Quest Casino, the area’s largest casino, boasts fourteen restaurants and lounges. They include Masselow’s, the region’s only AAA Four Diamond restaurant. This crown jewel of fine dining also has a serious commitment to local wine. In addition, they’re known for their popular Huckleberry Martini. This regional favorite is composed with huckleberry-infused vodka, Cointreau, Chambord, sweet and sour mix, fresh lemon and lime, and simple syrup. It is served in a sugar-rimmed martini glass. The Mai Tai is a Polynesian classic that combines fresh squeezed orange juice, pineapple juice and the great flavors of Jamaican rum, Myers dark rum and Chambord. The restaurant’s accolades are well deserved. Regardless of how you fare in the casino, you’ll always hit the jackpot at Masselow’s. 100 North Hayford Road, Airway Heights, WA. 509.242.7000
Walla Walla

Just off the lobby of Walla Walla’s famed Marcus Whitman Hotel is the cozy Vineyard Lounge. The bar’s warm atmosphere provides an elegant, yet casual wine country dining experience and is the perfect place for a nightcap. It has an award- winning wine list, but the specialty cocktail that’s poured most often is an old fashioned, a masterful mix based on an 1890 recipe. Strips of lemon zest with drops of Elemakule Tiki Bitters are set aside, as gum syrup and Angostura aromatic bitters are placed into a glass. Bullet Rye is added, and the mixture is stirred. Then the lemon zests are muddled and added to the glass. The mixture is stirred well and served over ice. 6 West Rose Street, Walla Walla, WA. 509.525.2200

Located near the Marcus Whitman Hotel is the acclaimed Whitehouse-Crawford Restaurant, one of Walla Walla’s finest eateries. This rustic, but elegant establishment is housed in a historic building. Consistent with the restaurant’s commitment to Walla Walla food and wine, the bartenders are well versed in classic cocktails, as well as creative seasonal specialty drinks. One to try is the Tobago Sour, which gets its distinctive taste from Santa Teresa rum, Orgeat syrup, Angostura bitters and lemon and orange juices. 55 West Cherry Street, Walla Walla, WA. 509.525.222

The Coeur d’Alene Casino, in Worley, features eight distinctive restaurants and lounges. The Nighthawk Lounge is a great place to start or end the night. But regardless of the time, you can bet on getting a first-rate drink. Try the Vegas Bomb, a concoction of Crown Royal, Malibu coconut rum, Peach Schnapps and Red Bull. Or try your hand at Jackpot Juice, a mixture of Southern Comfort, Yukon Jack, Amaretto di Amore, orange juice, pineapple juice and a hint of grenadine. 37914 South Hwy 95, Worley, ID 208.769.2600

Shake, Stir and Enjoy

A well-stocked cocktail bar can be your best friend after a long day or a spur of the moment party. It’s not that hard to put together with a few common bar and wine tools.
Consider stocking these staples that are common to a self-serve bar: vodka, rye whiskey, tequila, white rum, gin, and scotch or bourbon. If you are serving themed-drinks, buy other ingredients, such as Blue Curacao or Irish Cream. 
Buy mixers, such as tonic water, club soda, cola, cranberry juice and other sodas.
Make or buy plenty of ice. You can never have too much ice at a cocktail party. Place a full ice bucket out and refill it throughout the night.
Assemble the necessary glasses, such as wine glasses,
martini/cocktail glasses, highball glasses and rocks glasses to serve 
whiskey on the rocks.
Set out the appropriate tools. These include: a long spoon for stirring, a metal drink shaker with a strainer, tongs for the ice bucket, a bottle opener, a wine corkscrew and at least 2 small measuring cups, known as jiggers.
Pre-cut fruit garnishes like lime wedges and orange peel about an hour before the party. Set.

By Laurie L Ross. Published in the 2013 Essential Guide 

Photo credits: cocktails - a beautiful mess, Italia - wells & co, Clover - Clover , Peacock Lounge -Sip,  The Spokane Club- Wedding Mapper,  O'Dorhety's - O'Doherty's, Wild Sage - Sookane Civic Theater,  NQC -hbginc, Marcus Whitman - Take Great Pictures  Whitehouse Crawford - Wanderlust Traveller, Cda Casino -Paintsmith.  Drinks- international Barguide


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