Smoke and berries
Published: August 31, 2011
If you’ve seen the final Harry Potter installment — or even if you haven’t — it may be time to relive the series with some smoke and mirrors.
OK, bring your own mirror, but the ghostly vapours (yes, English spelling) surrounding the creation of a nitrogen margarita ($7) at the Aldaco’s happy hour (4-7pm) are essential to its charm; be sure to watch the process at the podium set up to exploit the theatre (English spelling again) it creates. Your waiter/bartender will pour the margarita ingredients (not premium but serviceable) into a stainless bowl into which they then pour liquid nitrogen at about minus 340 degrees. Using a chef’s whisk, they beat the mixture, adding more nitrogen as required. Fumes will swirl wraithlike about the bowl. You may wish you wore your Dumbledore outfit.
If the mixture proves to be too solid once the nitrogen has all turned to gas, they may add a little more triple sec, beating to incorporate it, after which the bowl’s contents will be transferred into a martini glass and served with a spoon; it looks like a sorbet, especially if you have elected to spend an extra dollar and get the prickly pear (or mango) version. Don’t disdain the spoon; it’s required at first, and it will convey to your mouth a concoction boasting a frozen texture you may never have experienced: far from the expected grainy, it’s utterly smooth and creamy. Magic, even.
The regular, rocks margs ($4 at happy hour) are less remarkable (they use the Gabriel’s label El Perrito tequila and a triple sec you never heard of), but OK for the price. Available appetizers include pedestrian but acceptable quesadillas ($3), mini burgers ($6) and a de lujo shrimp and avocado cocktail ($7).
Berry martini at Silo 1604
Silo has its happy hour act together. Not only is it proudly announced atop a drinks and apps list, but there are also drinks you aren’t compromising on and appetizers worth eating. Subbing for dinner, even. Yes, it’s true that an infused vodka drink called Cinnamon Pear Pie ($5, as are all specialty drinks) sounds scary, but look at it this way: you can also order a $5 slice of actual toasted coconut pie to go with it. The Champ-Berry martini made with Grand Marnier, rum, infused berries, and a splash of champagne is, in contrast, almost modest, really quite good, and went well with an order of salt and pepper calamari ($5), whose sweet-hot dipping sauce was the only disappointment. Keeping to a berry theme, the Blackberry Old Fashioned with Woodford Reserve Small Batch Bourbon was equally as good and might also have been happy with the crispy duck spring rolls. A happy hour list of wines you might actually want to drink is $6, well drinks are $4, and select beers are $2.50. Happy hour is daily from 4 to 9 p.m., no less, and the 1604 bar begins to fill right after 5, so plan accordingly.