Monday, March 29, 2010

Defining a Hot Bartender at Balliceaux

The local rag Brick provided a list of The Top Five Spots to Ditch a Lame Date and Find a New One, not something I was looking to do, but the explanation cracked me up. "Balliceaux: Skip to the back room bar...Flirt with hot bartender."

So instead, I found a girlfriend, we went to Balliceaux for Sunday supper and we sat at the front bar so I could tease my friend Austin about whether or not he qualifies as the hot bartender.

The real reason for my visit tonight was to hear Glows in the Dark, the only free jazz musicians I actually know and possibly the only ones in the area.

A lot of their music is based on movies and not everyone "gets" free jazz, but if you do, they're definitely worth checking out.

I hadn't seen them since last fall at Commercial Taphouse, not an ideal venue.

As I waited for my friend to arrive, the guy at the bar next to me asked what I was going to drink.

He told me I didn't want what he had (straight vodka, chilled) and I told him he was right; if I was going to have something straight up and chilled, it was going to be good tequila.

He promptly bought me a Corazon, which was as smooth as silk and defied every cliche about tequila I continue to hear from non-tequila drinkers.

Friend came and we perused the wine list where I was thrilled to see one of my absolute favorite wineries represented, K. Vintners out of Walla, Walla.

We ordered the 2008 Viognier, described as jasmine blossoms, wet stone and white peach aromas; it was heavenly.

Winemaker Charles Smith looks like a wild man and makes the most amazing wines.

I only wish they showed up on local wine lists more often. Kudos to Balliceaux for doing so.

For me, the options were limited for dinner because it was Sunday Supper and everything is large portions, designed for multiple people and my friend had already eaten.

I had a bowl of the spicy crab and coconut soup with tomato, red pepper and cilantro.

My friend tasted it and promptly ordered some for herself; it was that good.

I floated some bread chunks in it and ate it to the bottom.

Balliceaux is one of those places with an excellent dessert menu and after much deliberation, I chose the chocolate coconut tart, keeping the coconut theme going.

It was so dense, it could barely be penetrated with a fork.

The slivers of coconut meat atop it added a rich dimension to the very dark chocolate.

Only the chocolate cookie crust provided true sweetness; otherwise is was just the intensity of the flavors.

With Glows in the Dark wailing at the perfect volume for where we were sitting, we enjoyed being guinea pigs for Austin's mixology.

I'd never tasted St. Germaine, a cordial made of elderflower and with the most gorgeous, for lack of a better word, aroma and taste.

It was like drinking flower juice.

He also offered us a taste of a Negroni, made with Campari, gin and the French aperitif, Lillet, promising us a refreshing absence of sweetness and that's just what we got.

Meanwhile, I continued to tease him about his "hot" status.

In between Glows in the Dark's sets, Austin played music of his choice off his computer, which always works out well for me because our tastes are so similar.

As usual, we exchanged recent music find recommendations and discussed shows.

At one point when we were really enjoying an obscure song, a customer came up and asked him to lower the volume.

We both acknowledged that in our entire lives, we had never once made that request of anyone.

Now that I think about it, that must be what makes Austin such a hot bartender.

The rag was right.

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