When it comes to killer flavor combinations and fanciful presentations with flair, Bellevue knows how to do its cocktails right. There’s something for everyone — ranging from refreshing mocktails to innovative creations that light up the night with sparkling, flaming, and smoking theatrics.
Ascend Prime Steak & Sushi impresses guests with its sophisticated ambiance and sky-high panoramas. Lead mixologist Chaz Lee sets the scene: “The moment the elevator doors close, you start your high-speed journey to the 31st floor of Lincoln Tower South. You’ll take in floor-to-ceiling, unobstructed views of Lake Washington, the surrounding mountain ranges, Bellevue, and Seattle. Whether you want to chill in the lounge or have a coursed meal in the dining room, we can make both happen with contemporary, upscale, and whimsical flair.”
The mixology team here prides itself in using fresh ingredients and housemade syrups and bitters. “Our cocktails create new experiences that not only dance on the palate, but are visually stunning,” says Lee. “At Ascend, our spirits and wines are carefully curated from all around the world, providing our guests with unique experiences that can’t be eclipsed.”
Lee suggests cocktails with a “wow” factor to match the magic-tinged surroundings. “What could be better than sitting on the 31st floor enjoying the view amongst the clouds?” he asks. “Drinking one. The Cloud Nine is a fluffy blue cloud in a glass, with flavors from around the globe, including French elderflower, Madagascar vanilla, Japanese Ramune soda, and lemon.” This vodka-based cocktail sparkles and shimmers with edible glitter and clouds of carbon dioxide. “I try to draw inspiration from food or drinks that I love; this particular cocktail was inspired from the Japanese milk soda, Calpico,” says Lee.
Bellevue’s Central Bar + Restaurant is described by Bar Manager Kyle Patterson as “a classy, upscale restaurant and bar with service, drinks, and food perfect for special occasions, date nights, and nightcaps.” The bar program is designed around the contemporary cocktail theory of employing fresh ingredients, housemade cordials and syrups, and knowledgeable bartenders who are able to craft one-of-a-kind, personalized drinks.
Those looking for a showy order should try the Classic Spanish Coffee. Using 151-proof rum, the bartender flames a snifter glass with ground cinnamon that sparks and caramelizes sugar on the rim, explains Patterson. From there, they add V.S.O.P. Cognac, Tía Maria, Kahlua, fresh coffee, and whipped cream.
For more subtle decadence, try The Night Cap — cacao-infused reposado tequila, Kahlua, demerara syrup, and espresso, topped with steamed milk and ground cinnamon. The spirit used in this drink is infused with cacao nibs, the pods used to make chocolate. “This gives the tequila a silky mouthfeel and chocolate flavor without any added sweetness,” says Patterson. “Combined with fresh espresso and steamed milk, this drink is sure to impress and keep you warm in the winter months.”
Joe Dietrich, a Certified Specialist of Spirits and Level One Sommelier and bar manager at Civility & Unrest, describes the front of this celebrated Bellevue venue as being inspired by “ideas of older, classic hotels — with tall ceilings, large features, and amber lighting that really draws out the wooden tones.” The back half, on the other hand, is a trip forward in time, with an aesthetic of what modernism would look like in the 1950s. “We transition from long hard lines to a much rounder room, even dark, illuminated by candles,” he says.
The cocktail program at Civility & Unrest is designed to provide guests with not only standout drinks, but also a high-caliber experience through and through. “The front bar menu is whimsical and approachable; the future back bar menus are serious explorations of what a cocktail can be, and how it can be composed,” says Dietrich. “In the back, we take a more traditional culinary approach, balancing sugars and acids, savory and sweet, in order to create something truly special.”
One of the venue’s most visually stunning cocktails also happens to have wonderful name: the Tale as Old as Time. This tuxedo-like whiskey sour gets contrasting colors from squid ink and egg white, and comes served in a cloche filled with cherrywood smoke. The cocktail features a dramatic separation between the black drink and its egg-foam cap and is garnished with a single rose petal and whisps of smoke. “As dark and brooding as the cocktail appears, the flavors of passionfruit and citrus take the stage, delighting the palate and causing you to think twice about the appearance of this beastly cocktail,” says Dietrich.
When it comes to non-alcohol beverages, Monsoon Bellevue offers several tea-based mocktails that dazzle any crowd. Jon Christiansen, beverage director for the restaurant’s management firm Saigon Siblings, shares two delightful options, neither of which has alcohol or caffeine. The Charlotte Sometimes mixes lemon, peach blossom white peony tea, cucumber, and soda. “This one is a riff off of a Hot Charlotte cocktail, a Murray Stinson cocktail made to honor Hendricks brand rep Charlotte Voissey,” says Christiansen. It’s a great non-alcoholic summertime cocktail, “a perfect lunchtime refresher,” Christiansen adds.
Then there’s the Honeybush Fizz — lemon, peach purée, honey, honeybush tea, and soda. “Inspired by bottled carbonated cocktails I was making years ago,” Christiansen explains, “it’s intended to be a supercharged Bellini as a cocktail… The flavor is pretty spot-on to that, sans alcohol.” On top of the typical Bellini flavor profile, guests will find hints of honey and oloroso sherry wood, with slight floral notes. Both of these drinks started as cocktails, then were reverse-engineered into non-alcoholic syrups and mixers.
A Happier Happy Hour
Get ready to sip in style with Visit Bellevue’s new Bellevue Happy Hour Passport launching in early 2022. The digital program, which costs $30, whisks you away to two happy hours that include a signature cocktail and small bites. We’ll cheers to that!