I dropped in to test the latest cocktail menus at three Tacoma eateries and found plenty to like.
Here are three adult sippers from Tacoma’s Asado and Marrow, both in the Sixth Avenue neighborhood, and Maxwell’s Speakeasy + Lounge, a St. Helens neighborhood restaurant.
2810 Sixth Ave., Tacoma; 253-272-7770 or asadotacoma.com
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Cachaca Sidecar, $9.25
Tasting notes: Muddled oranges and limes paired with cointreau sounds summery with an extra helping of girly, right? Well, that flavor certainly is sparkling, until that drink is tempered with cachaca, a harsh-as-tequila distilled spirit made from sugarcane syrup, better known as the base alcohol for a caipirinha. Think of cachaca as the hairy-chested Brazilian kin of rum.
This spin on a sidecar delivered serious booze-fueled low notes that balanced out nicely with the bright-and-syrupy citrus mixers. The cocktail also carried a honey-sweet warmth, which paired well with a spice that loves aged cachaca, a cinnamon-dusted rim. Served chilled and up.
Try it with: Brocheta de cordero ($11). This plate was the South American equivalent of Korean lettuce wraps. Build-your-own wraps with sizzle-edged lamb tucked into a soft butter lettuce leaf with sweet peppadew peppers, browned red onions and a drizzle of cilantro-jalapeno aioli.
2717 Sixth Ave., Tacoma; 253-267-5299 or marrowtacoma.com
Apricot Presbyterian, $10
Tasting notes: This drink, like the Cachaca Sidecar above, reminded me of a summery deck cocktail - sweet, but not too much so. A splash of apricot found a fine accomplice in whiskey. Ginger beer at the base deepened the flavor, turning it into a perfect fall sipper - warm tones for cold evenings. The drink was refreshing, quenching and perfectly balanced. Served on the rocks.
Try it with: One of the best cheese boards I’ve found lately in Tacoma ($18), served with coconut gouda, alder smoked blue cheese, a red wine washed white cheddar, with blackberry honey for dredging. Board accompaniments were fresh-sliced peaches, a pear compote and a nut mix. What I loved most? The kitchen thought ahead - the cheese had been left at room temp for a bit. Note: Menus should change soon at Marrow.
MAXWELL’S SPEAKEASY + LOUNGE
454 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma; 253-683-4115 or maxwells-tacoma.com
Yellow Jacket, $10
Tasting notes: With a tequila and chartreuse base, this cocktail flavor thumped deeply - it also nearly thumped me off my seat. Drink one of these cautiously, it packed a high-octane headiness (read: force someone else be the designated driver). It seems that elderflower liqueur is the required cocktail add-in of the moment, but it truly was well utilized here with its light floral tone offsetting the herbal nudge of chartreuse. A splash of orange bitters turned it citrusy, but not too girly-girl. Served chilled and up.
Try it with: Smoked kalua pork sliders, $5. Fatty-textured pork, slow cooked, stacked on a glossy-topped slider bun. At first look, I was dismayed at the lack of textural dissonance between bun and meat, but that worry was cancelled when I bit into pineapple-wasabi slaw. It was a thinly applied, but tasty relish.