Boise Booze: An excerpt from Annual Manual 

The city's unique cocktail culture

Pisco. Mole bitters. Lillet Blanc. Cocktail menus across the Treasure Valley overflow with unconventional ingredients. Whether Boise bartenders are adding unique twists to classics or shaking up their own concoctions, they know how to serve it up knock-you-down strong. But what do the local gourmands guzzle? We asked some mixologists about the most "quintessentially Boise" cocktails on their menus. Here, little lushes, is what we sussed out.

Red Feather Lounge is one of Boise's premiere cocktail cantinas. With an ever-changing list of drinks made from locally sourced ingredients, sauntering up to the bar at Red Feather is always an experiment in innovation. Still, a select few cocktails, like the rose- and cucumber-laced Mona Ramsey, have become Red Feather classics.

"The Mona Ramsey is far and away our most popular local cocktail, made with Square One organic cucumber vodka. It's probably our best in-house creation using local ingredients," said Red Feather bartender Mark Allen.

Voted Best Local Bartender in BW's Best of Boise three years running, Allen also has his own personal fave: The Gaspar.

"It's basically a classic gin martini made slightly wet in the classic style with more vermouth and parfait amour, which is an orange lavender liqueur," said Allen.

Another joint that sources its spirits locally—as in straight-from-the-still-in-the-back-room local—is restaurant and distillery Bardenay. Though a few of the sprawling Basque Block eatery's cocktails can get a little wacky, they mostly keep it classy with a dash of sass.

"We sell more mojitos than any other drink," said Bardenay's Patrick Kalange. "But one of the drinks that I think is much better is the Basil Instinct. It's a gin-based drink with gin, an orange liqueur called Citron, fresh lime sour and fresh lemon sour with muddled basil."

Down the street at Pair, a mirrored upscale lounge known for its innovative infused vodkas, one of the popular Idaho cocktails blends two of the above trends: mojitos and local liquor.

"I would probably say our most 'Boise' cocktail is the Idaho mojito. It's our version of the mojito which is made with 44 North, which is an Idaho vodka," said bartender Jen Koble. "And instead of soda water, we top it off with champagne."

At the Linen District's retro chic hotel bar, The Modern, bartender Michael Bowers takes a more studied approach to the joint's top cocktails, breaking the menu into three categories: the short and boozy, the up and fruity, and the long and refreshing.

"For the short and boozy, the Dorothy Parker is quintessentially a Modern beverage. It's Plymouth gin and Dubonnet Blanc infused with chamomile, cardamom and anise," said Bowers. "It's one of our most enduring beverages, and it's quite tasty and very summery."

Want to know what Bowers recommends for the up and fruity or the long and refreshing? Pull up a chair at The Modern's sleek wood bar and tell him Boise Weekly sent you. You're welcome.

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