Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bonefish Grill

855 W Broad Street

Time: 3-6 and 9-Close daily
Special: $6 featured martinis, $5 premium wines, ½ off wells, ½ off premium liquor, $4 draft beers & house wines. And ½ off select appetizers.
Rating: 4.5 martinis
Smoking: no
Other mentions: They offer an anytime menu with several $5 options including sangria and Svedka Martinis.

My friends and I first came upon Bonefish during the Martini Mix-Off in May and it quickly became one of our favorite stops, especially on the weekends. It is located in a great part of town at the 8th Street Marketplace. The happy hour deals are fantastic and every time we have Shannon for a bartender, the service is stellar. Unfortunately on this visit Shannon had gone home for the day but we still had a great time.

There were several of us on this visit and most of us ordered food so we were able to sample a variety. I personally love the Bang Bang Shrimp. But the mussels were tasty as well and there were plenty to go around. I heard no complaints whatsoever from our group and the food went down quick.

Drinks were plentiful on this visit. A few of my friends continue to return to Bonefish specifically because of one of the martinis they entered into the mix-off: The Bandit. It is a lovely concoction of American Honey Bourbon and Butterscotch Liqueur with a honeyed rim. This particular evening my friends only got one because they ran out of this fine liquor. Note to Bonefish: stock up! Besides this one glitch in our plans, everything else was fantastic. We will continue to return, especially if the American Honey is there!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Lobby

760 W Main Street

Time: 4-6 M-F
Special: $2 wells, drafts, and house wines
Rating: 4.5 martinis
Smoking: no
Other mentions: Martini Wednesdays 4-7 house martinis $6; $1 PBR pints on Wednesdays; Specials during all Bronco and Vandal games and during Monday Night Football; bike racks

Due to my crazy travel schedule as of late, I was long overdue to try out The Lobby. Taking over the space formerly occupied by Lush, it is in prime downtown real estate- on Main between 8th and Capitol. They have done a great job with the remodel brightening things up while still providing a cozy feeling. They also promote local artists with their works on display, I believe on a rotating basis.

On this brisk evening, I sidled up to the bar and thought it appropriate to order a Widmer Brrr (it didn’t disappoint!). They do offer a fine selection of beers on tap that will fit anyone’s liking. There are a few wine options as well and of course a full bar. Everyone seemed very friendly, staff and patrons alike. I felt right at home here.

They have a few TVs around for folks to watch whatever game happens to be on but they didn’t distract from the bar experience at all. They blended in well with the tastefully decorated lounge.

I was lucky enough to have Adam, one of the proprietors, as my bartender on this visit. He told me they are working on permits for outdoor seating and an outdoor grill so they can serve food. Both will be great additions to this fine establishment. This is definitely a place to which I plan to return again and again. Once they get the food going, it will be moved up to a 5 martini rating!

Thursday, December 3, 2009


1520 N 13th Street

Time: 3-7 and 9-1 daily
Special: $6 martinis; $1 off other drinks; 2 for 1 appetizers.
Rating: 3 martinis
Smoking: outside
Other mentions: outside seating, bike racks, full menu, full bar

Bungalow sits in a prime location in the center of Hyde Park in the North end of Boise. Surprisingly, the building has been home to several bars and restaurants in my 15 years of Boise. I’m not even sure I ever had a chance to patron its last resident. Hopefully Bungalow can withstand the necessary turbulence of this economy and hold ground longer.

My friends and I only visited the lounge during this visit so I can not attest to the restaurant area but if it is anything like the lounge, it is tastefully decorated and not overly pretentious. While it appears to be too upscale for many, the variety of patrons during our visit gave the feeling of just another great neighborhood bar. Not sure if that is what the owners are after, but it certainly seems to work.

My friends and I all ordered a variety of items for our enjoyment. The deals I found to be the best: the 2 for 1 appetizers and $6 any martinis. Seriously, any martini....even Grey Goose with a twist. I have ordered similar around town for upwards of $12. The beers came in at around $3 during happy hour and they have some tasty handles, including Widmer’s seasonal Brrrr.

There were four of us this visit so we ordered four appetizers. The meat and cheese plate ($12), the pizza of the day ($10), the wings ($8), and the Brie ($10). All the food was excellent and very filling.

The only real complaint we had was with our service. Sometimes it was good but sometimes it was non-existent. We had to flag down our server several times and it was sort of awkward. There were only five tables that evening with two servers and the bartender was handling those at the bar, so it wasn’t very busy. When the bill arrived, it was incorrect and missing a couple of the happy hour discounts.

Mostly, we were very pleased with their happy hour and are sure to return for the martinis and appetizers.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


276 W Bobwhite Court

Time: 4-6 daily; 9:30-11 Thursday, Friday, & Saturday
Special: 2 for 1 drinks
Rating: 2.5 martinis
Smoking: outside
Other mentions: outside seating, bike racks, full menu

I had only been to Barbacoa once and that was for lunch about a year ago, so I thought it was time to try out their happy hour. We arrived right at 4 to get things started. Like usual, we cozied up to the bar. We were informed that most any drink is included in the 2 for 1 deal except the list of drinks on the cocktail menu in front of us. Most of those were the fancy drinks that we rarely order anyway, so no loss on our parts. We were much later informed that those drinks are discounted during happy hour, though.

With drinks in front of us, we decided to check out the appetizer menu. It offered a variety of options including mini tacos, pizzas, and tableside guacamole. I’ve heard great things about their guacamole but since I’m allergic to avocados, that was not an option. So we went with our normal standby of nachos. The nachos are available regular ($9) or with topping options (add $3): chicken, barbacoa beef, shrimp, or crab. We went with the barbacoa beef. When the dish came out, it was huge. We could only eat about half the order it was so big, and rather tasty.

It seemed that about every half hour, the lights kept getting dimmed until it was really quite dark in the bar. Sure, it can add a bit of ambiance but too much of a good thing is no longer a good thing. Another oddity, the restrooms are not marked well and I had to ask someone which was the women’s. It would be nice to make that just a bit more obvious. A big bonus for the establishment- they have a bike rack, always a huge plus for happy hour attendance.

My friend and I enjoyed Barbacoa but we weren’t wowed by it. The drinks are expensive ($5.50 for well drinks) so happy hour is the only time you may see us there. Granted they do use higher end liquor, such as Smirnoff for vodka instead of Komchatka, but still pricey. The food prices seemed reasonable for what was served. The décor is pleasant and different from other restaurants in the area.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Donnie Mac’s Roadside Cuisine

1515 W Grove Street

Time: 2-7 M-F
Special: $1 PBR pints
Rating: 2.5 martinis
Smoking: outside
Other mentions: outside seating, bike racks, full menu

PBR: cheaper than soda!

It was a beautiful fall day. My friend Bri and I had just finished a nice bike ride along the greenbelt and thought Donnie Mac’s was in order….as did our other friends who met us later. There was one empty table outside….and it happened to be the only table outside, oddly enough for such a fine day. We were pleased nevertheless.

After several minutes at our table and a walk inside to ask for service, we were finally provided a couple of menus but not asked if we wanted any beverages. Several minutes later we were finally asked what we would like- food and drink wise. The food menu has a large variety of items, ranging from salads, grilled sandwiches, and fried foods, where anyone will find what s/he desires. They even have a great kids menu, which I find provides just the right amount of food even for an adult. And the food is great! I highly recommend the sweet potato fries!

You can’t really go wrong with PBR; it was served up cold and for a $1 one can’t complain. It was a perfect thirst quencher to the afternoon ride. I only rated this a 2.5 because PBR is the only happy hour special. Overall, I would rate it a 3.5 because the food is really good and the ambiance fun. The service was rather lacking on this visit but once we got service it was actually really good and from previous visits, I have never found it to be an issue. If you are in the mood for something funky and a cold PBR, give this place a try!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Falcon Tavern- update

I recently visited Falcon Tavern for happy hour. I reviewed them back in March but since, they have relocated. They moved into the old Satchel's location at 705 W Bannock Street and now have a large patio for outdoor dining. They have also modified their happy hour special. Now they are serving half priced beers! This is a great move on several accounts!

Hyde Park Pub

1501 13th Street

Time: 4-6 daily
Special: $1 off drafts
Rating: 3 martinis
Smoking: no
Other mentions: outside seating, bike racks, full menu

Hyde Park Pub used to be called Harry’s and many locals still refer to it by that name. It is in a great location in the heart of Hyde Park of the Boise Northend. It draws a variety of folks from mountain bikers post-ride to football fans catching a game, to the family down the street.

The establishment is far from pretentious but has decent pub fare including burgers, sandwiches, a large selection of fried food, and several beer taps. This is great neighborhood bar with tasty food, a decent selection of beers, and fabulous staff. Definitely worth a visit!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Lock, Stock, & Barrel

1100 W Jefferson Street

Time: 11-6 M-F
Special: $2.50 wells & house wine, $2 domestic bottles, $3 drafts
Rating: 2 martinis
Smoking: no
Other mentions: restaurant with separate bar

This was a last minute decision to try out Lock, Stock & Barrel when a friend texted me to meet early. Few bars start happy hour before 4pm but LSB starts at 11- wow!

We parked our bikes against a tree outside since they don’t have a bike rack and wondered on it. The bar area is quite substantial with several four-tops and a lengthy bar with seating. It definitely has a feel of an upscale steak house as soon as you walk through their doors.

We were the only patrons at the moment and sidled up to the bar in typical boise happy hour (bhh) fashion. When I asked what the happy hour specials were, we received a slight grunt and a pointing up to a board above the bar. We also noticed another board stating $2 off appetizers. I was a bit surprised by the slim choices on the appetizer menu since it is a large restaurant but the options were substantial. We opted for the baked brie and garlic.

We continued to be amazed by the lack of attention from our bartender, especially being the only two patrons and sitting right at the bar. While nothing was bad at this location, we found it to be very mediocre at best.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Macaroni Grill

980 N Milwaukee Street

Time: 3- close
Special: $2.99 small plates; $4.99 wines
Rating: 3 martinis
Smoking: no
Other mentions: bike rack

A friend of mine mentioned enjoying happy hour at Macaroni Grill a while back so the last time I was in the neighborhood I thought it appropriate to pop in and give it a try. The bar area has a few tables and a large wrap-around bar with seating. As I usually prefer, I sidled up to the bar. While there were only two other patrons in the bar, it did take Brian, the bartender, some time to make his way over to me. I also had to ask him a few questions to get the real gist of the happy hour specials out of him.

The happy hour special has a great selection of small plates that ranged from chicken or shrimp skewers with roasted veggies to chicken parmesan atop spaghetti. Any wines by the glass are offered at $4.99 with a food purchase….this was a great deal for me as I ordered what is normally a $10 glass. The catch with this special is one must order a food plate to get the $4.99 price for each order. So for the second glass of wine, I had to order another plate. Luckily I had went with the skewers which were much lighter fare.

I really liked that MG has a bike rack out front as I pretty much only ride my bike to establishments, unfortunately it is located on a very busy road that is not bike friendly. The food was great, the wine fantastic, and the service improved greatly. Brian actually turned out to be a great server with a heavy dose of sarcasm, a couple of my favorite things. I could see returning to Macaroni Grill if in the neighborhood again.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Boise Fry Company

111 Broadway, Suite 111

Time: 4-6 M-F
Special: buy one pint, get one free; buy one small fry, get one free
Rating: 3 martinis
Smoking: no
Other mentions: seating outside

Tucked away in an unassuming strip mall just on the outskirts of downtown is the Boise Fry Company. They opened their doors a few months ago specializing in fries and having burgers as sides. The day I visited, they had seven different fry options with three of those grown in Idaho. I had no idea they served beer as well until just recently. So here I am.

Happy hour is from 4-6 Monday-Friday and includes buy one pint, get one free and buy one small fry, get one free. They only have three handles but all three are high end beers. Unfortunately, two of them were IPAs and the third not far off. With only three handles, it would be nice to have a different type of beer on each. The upside, one of the handles was from a local brewery, Highlands Hollow.

The service is order at the counter style. Seating is available with regular tables, long bar style tables, and outdoor seating. Wireless internet is available but don’t expect to find outlets to keep the computer charged.

My fries arrived in a fun cylinder like holder and I was directed to doctor them up at the “Seasoning Station”. I found several different salts, including salt & rosemary, salt & vinegar, Cajun, Vanilla, and Jalapeño. I didn’t see any salt & pepper. For sauces, I tried the black bean, roasted garlic, chipotle, and regular ketchup. I was intrigued by the blueberry ketchup option but not enough to try it. I stuck with the regular ketchup.

The Boise Fry Company is certainly worth a try whether for happy hour or for lunch. The fries are great and the beers are just as good quality. It isn’t the bar style atmosphere of some of my reviews but variety is good.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

WilliB's Saloon

225 N 5th Street

Time: all the time
Special: $3 wells; $4 well martinis
Rating: 2.5 martinis
Smoking: no
Other mentions: seating outside, bike rack

WilliB’s Saloon is located in a rather unlikely location on the corner of 5th and Idaho Streets. What was once a retro clothing shop has now been renovated into a saloon. I was dubious at first by the name but upon stepping inside, the owners definitely captured that saloon feel. With the wooden tabletops and benches and old style barstools, I kept half expecting to find sawdust on the floor and a hitching post outside….they did install a bike rack though, so big bonus points there!

WilliB’s big draw is the $3 wells and $4 martinis all the time. I ordered up a well and my friend ordered a gin martini. My drink arrived in a tall skinny glass that wasn’t fussy nor beyond expectations. My friend’s martini arrived in a rather tiny martini glass that made us both look at each other questionably until the shaker was placed next to it with the remaining contents, which worked out to be a few more glasses worth. We enjoyed the concept and the retro look of it.

WilliB’s has a small food menu with a rotating selection of sandwiches and the like. The prices seemed reasonable but we did not try any of the food. Once striking feature of the place was for such a small venue there were 4 televisions. Good place to catch a game, I suppose. All in all, it was a fun place to try, prices were reasonable, service was good, and it is not like any other bar in town.

Friday, July 31, 2009

I'd like to hear from you

Greetings readers!
I would like to know what restaurants/bars you would like me to review. I'm sure there are several places completely off my radar but could be possible gems. Post your thoughts and ideas here and I will do my best to consume libations, savor vittles, and provide a review of each location.

Thank you!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Melting Pot

200 N 6th Street

Time: 5-7 Daily
Special: $3 micros, $2 other beers, $5 wines, $3.50 wells, and $5 Feature drinks and martinis
Rating: 4.5 martinis
Smoking: no
Other mentions: Full Bar, seating outside, $5 appetizer specials

The Melting Pot is a fondue restaurant located in downtown Boise. It opened a few years ago and has been very successful, filling a niche that is otherwise absent in the area. It is also much more than cheese and chocolate dip.

I have visited the restaurant on other occasions for dinner but this was my first for happy hour. My friends and I sidled up to the bar (we often prefer to sit at the bar versus at tables as this offers better access to the bartender for insider knowledge). The bartender of the evening, Bobby, was very attentive and enthusiastic. We couldn’t decide on a wine to have so he let us sample several before we made our selection. We really liked this!

They have a vast selection of their wines for $5 during happy hour, as well as beer and liquor specials. An interesting tidbit about their liquor selection, their well offerings are higher end than most places. So for their vodka, they offer Smirnoff as the well instead of something like Kamchatka.

They have a special food menu set up for happy hour also. It includes a couple of fondue options perfect for sharing with someone, as well as salads, shrimp, and dips most priced at $5! We enjoyed the Baked Brie with Pesto, Honey and Almond Baked Brie, and the Spinach Artichoke Dip. Everything was fantastic and nicely presented. The brie was served with bread and chips; the chips seemed like an unlikely pairing but actually worked. The spinach and artichoke dip was a more than ample portion of creamy goodness.

A note of mention, happy hour is only available in the bar area. This should not pose a problem, however, as there is ample seating in the bar. The restaurant also has an outdoor patio, as well as several booths throughout- some are very intimate 2-top tables tucked away behind curtains. There were only a few groups in the bar on our visit, but on a trip through the restaurant I noticed most of the tables full....and it wasn’t even a weekend evening.

The owner of the restaurant made his way around the establishment while patrons dined, personalizing each persons visit. This was nice to see as it is a rare occurrence to visit with the owner anymore. This seems to be an area that several restaurants lack but I believe it to be key in keeping diners returning. Every diner wants to feel special and that extra step does just that.

Bobby the bartender actually gets big kudos from us. A few days after our visit to Melting Pot, he spotted us downtown and said hello! Nice work remembering us! We will definitely return to the Melting Pot for happy hour and hopefully it is on a night Bobby is working!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Dutch Goose


3515 W State Street

Time: 4-6 M-F
Special: $1.50 domestics and $2.50 micros
Rating: 4 martinis
Smoking: outside
Other mentions: outside seating with misters on hot days, horseshoe pits, other daily specials: Tuesday- 2 for 1 burgers, Wednesday $3 32 oz. tubs from 6-11pm and free peanuts, Thursday $1 all drafts from 8-11pm

The Goose isn’t a fancy place but it is friendly and fun. It offers up a variety of entertainment sure to please everyone in your group with pool tables, video games, televisions, horseshoe pits, and plenty of seating for socializing.

The atmosphere is casual with a no frills approach and ordering is done at the counter. What you get in return is low prices on a great beer selection and tasty food that also comes with a great price tag. The counter service was also fantastic. While I didn’t catch the name of the bartender/cook/server of the day, she was entertaining, nice, and quick!

My most recent visit was on a Tuesday so my friend and I took advantage of the 2 for 1 burgers. They were generous in size as well as flavor. For a Tuesday afternoon/early evening, the place was packed. Seems that many already know about this little gem and they ranged from a softball team to a table in suits, and everything in between.

We left happy, full, and no longer thirsty. We will definitely return to the Goose!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Parrilla Grill

1512 N 13th Street

Time: M-F 4-6:30
Special: $2.50 domestics, $2.50 wells, $3.50 micros, and $1 off pitchers
Rating: 3 martinis
Smoking: no
Other mentions: Full Bar, seating outside, daily specials

Technically I didn’t make it during happy hour but Parilla Grill does have daily specials. I went on a Thursday for the $1 taco special. That is right! $1 tacos all day Thursday! I could choose from steak, pork, chicken, or veggie on either corn or flour tortillas. I opted for one chicken on flour and one veggie on corn. I had them throw on some corn salsa and pico de gallo and I was set! My friend and I headed outdoors to their lovely patio, sat at the bar, and ordered up some cold beverage. Thursday also happens to be $1 off all drafts.

The restaurant was busy for mid-day Thursday. People rode up on bikes, some had dogs, and some were punching away on computers. Parilla Grill draws a diverse crowd with its tasty and affordable offerings. The tacos were yummy and healthy. The beer selection was simple yet provided an option for everyone. The location in Hyde Park is perfect for those wanting to get out of downtown but not too far out or those just getting back from the foothills.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Joe's Crab Shack

2288 N Garden Street

Time: M-F 3-7
Special: $1.25 domestics, $2 wells, and $3 frozen margaritas and well martinis
Rating: 4 martinis
Smoking: outside
Other mentions: Full Bar, seating outside, on the greenbelt

A friend and I were attending a play reading in Garden City this evening but wanted to get together prior for a beverage and snack. I suggested Joe’s Crab Shack for its proximity to our final destination as well as its location off the Boise Greenbelt. We were able to park our bicycles right on the greenbelt next to our table! The only better thing would for them to have an actual bike rack placed off the greenbelt for high traffic times.

We were greeted by Kat who told us the happy hour specials and how Joe’s works. The specials include $1.25 domestics, $2 wells, and $3 frozen margaritas and well martinis and sometimes appletinis and cosmos are included. Unfortunately, they do not offer any food specials but we decided to order the crab nachos anyway.

The drinks were refreshing, the nachos good, and the service excellent. Mid-way through our experience, Kat hands us a couple of hats and informs us we would be dancing to YMCA with them on the greenbelt. Without question my friend and I were singing and dancing for the restaurant. As much as I dislike the YMCA song, it was fun….or maybe it was just the strong cocktails!

We had a fun time at Joe’s and the nachos kept us full all night! No late night snacking needed.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Martini mix-off 2009 wrap up

My friends and I had a lot of fun with the martinis! It was great to try fun cocktails that we would normally pass up because they didn’t fit into our normal repertoire of beverage. This got us out of our comfort zone and we found a few cocktails by which we were amazed.

The following is my beverage winners for the event. My friends are not in complete concurrence but for the most part, we were very close.

1. Vesper Reconsidered- Chandlers
2. No one came close enough
3. Blue-by-you- Pair

1. French Connection- Pair
2. The Bandit- Bonefish
3. Tolerance Juice- Red Feather

1. Barack O’PAMA- Chandlers
2. El Pepino- Bonefish
3. Ty Webb- Tablerock

I was very disappointed not to see Bonefish in the finalists of the Boise Weekly’s write up or the final judging. I was also appalled to see Bardenay make it into the finals. Their classic was weak, and the same exact drink they made in 2006. They didn’t even bother changing the name. Their Masala Martini in the original category was nearly the same as their 2006 Chaitini. They could use some originality!

Another disappointment of the mix-off was the Bouquet. They only got the special ingredients used to make their drinks in for the one night the judges were there. We felt as though they didn’t care what the other customers thought and they did not even come up with an appropriate solution. We sampled the drinks they could make for us and were so unimpressed by the experience, we did not even finish our drinks.

A huge high point in the mix-off was finding Bonefish. Our bartender Shannon is amazing! She takes such great care of us whenever we return now. The drinks are great, the food fantastic, and our service fabulous.

Overall we enjoyed the martini drinking and socializing!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Chandlers Steakhouse

981 W Grove Street

Located in Hotel 43, Chandlers Steakhouse and Lounge are the epitome of class. High-end all the way, including the staff.

We opted for a late afternoon to enjoy the martinis so we would have the full attention of Pat, the fabulous bartender. We sidled up to the bar, all 8 of us, to enjoy the next hour. Pat provided us with some reading material for background on the drinks. It was more fun quips than real details but that extra step certainly adds to our ratings.

This year’s offerings:
44 Magnum
Wild Turkey Bourbon, Tia Maria, 44 North Rainier Cherry, cherry garnish

Barack O’PAMA
Absolut Vanilla vodka, Godiva Chocolate Liquer, Wild Turkey Bourbon, PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur, Pomegranate sugared rim and a chocolate coin garnish

Vesper Reconsidered (a 10-minute martini)
Plymouth Gin, Blue Ice Vodka, Lillet Blanc, a spooge of Orange Bitters, Lemon twist garnish

The 44 Magnum had some interesting qualities. Cherry flavors were present in the initial taste but the drink finished with a chocolaty-coffee taste. Some of my fellow tasters thought it more reminiscent of cough syrup but I thought it was a bit more subtle. The Wild Turkey seems to provide the continuity of this drink while the other liquor in the drink is what provides the true essence.

The Barack O’PAMA was a beautiful drink with its sugared rim and hint of red color. Pat suggested we try a sip, take a bite of chocolate, then another sip. I preferred it before chocolate, while Liz preferred it with the chocolate. Either way, we enjoyed this beverage. It wasn’t nearly as sweet as I had expected with just the right balance of flavors. The flavors stood up on their own while simultaneously working with each other. I have no idea how Pat is able to put it all together, but he does it perfectly.

The Vesper Reconsidered is worth every 10 minutes of the wait. Seriously! This is the best martini I have ever had. It is crisp, clean, and refreshing. It is dangerous! The orange bitters and lemon twist really bring out the crispness in this cocktail. As the drink slowly comes to room temperature, the flavors continue to evolve. It is a definitely stunner.

Chandlers does not have a happy hour but they do provide some tasty hors d'oeuvres. While we were there, we sampled some sliders and homemade jerky. We enjoyed our time there and the service was stellar.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Piper Pub

150 N 8th Street

The Piper Pub, referred to as just The Piper by locals, had good variety in their drinks.

Channel 7 was the Classic mixing Broker’s Gin, Absolut Vodka, 3 pumps of dry vermouth shaken and served up with olives. This was a great classic. I hadn’t tried Broker’s gin before and honestly I forgot I was drinking gin. It has a very delicate flavor, or at least combined with the vodka and vermouth, it does.

The Berry Picker was the Original martini. This panty dropper contained Absolut Citron, pomegranate Liquor, squeeze of berry puree, splash of 7-up, and muddled and strained basil in simple syrup, garnished with a pom sugar rim. It was sweet and frou frou. If you like girly drinks, this one is for you!

The Blue Collar was the cocktail and served in a hurricane glass. This one certainly gets honorable mention for glassware. This was brought to the table with colors layered from pale yellow on the bottom to sea blue on the top. Very attractive presentation. This beverage contained mint, coconut syrup, Absolut vodka, Curacao, and Meyer’s Rum. The initial sip was good but the finish of minty coconut was a bit too much. This drink required a good stirring. This is the drink I would like to enjoy while laying on the beach listening to the surf....but one is all I could handle.

And something else worth mentioning, The Piper does not serve PBR :-(


1010 W Main Street

The first time we attempted martinis at the Bouquet was the Sunday after the judges stopped there. We were told they didn’t have two of the key ingredients for two of the martinis. I was told they might have them in in about five days. So we returned five days later and they were still out of one of the ingredients- dry ice. The bartender working that day informed us that they only got in the ingredients for the martinis they made for the judges- wtf?? Part of what we were asked to do is judge the martinis. There was even a slip in our booklet to fill out for the judging. So we were treated to half-ass martinis and were unimpressed by the experience, as well as the poor service. As a matter of fact, we didn’t even finish our martinis. Other friends who tried to use their coupons there were treated with the same lousy experience. I won’t even bore you with the details here.


999 W Main Street

After two prior attempts at enjoying martinis at Angell’s, we were finally successful. The first time was a Sunday afternoon but their sign said they didn’t open until 5. The second time was a Sunday after 5; they were not open and their hours were no longer posted. Finally on a Thursday we were successful!

We went directly to the bar for our martini enjoyment. The lineup was as follows:

Classic- The Blissful Angell
Crystalhead Vodka garnished with 3 bleu cheese olives

Original- Hot Mamacita
Cilantro, pineapple juice, jalepeno, Silver Petron, rim salted.

Cocktail- Fallen Angell
Muddled basil, fresh grapefruit, yellow bell pepper, Absolut Vanilla vodka, bar sour, garnished with bell pepper

The Classic was crisp and pleasant and the olives were tasty, but it didn’t have any elements that set it apart from any other classic martini. While it was very good, it didn’t WOW.

The Hot MaMaCita was very interesting. A unique twist to the traditional margarita. The salt rim was a bit overpowering for this drink and its delicate flavors. The sips without the salt were perfectly balanced with sweet and spicy.

The Fallen Angel had a lot going on. The flavors were an odd combination that just didn’t seem to work together. It really needed something that would marry the combination better.

All the drinks were very enjoyable at Angell’s and the bartender was helpful with descriptions and the like. We didn’t find any of the libations to be winners, however.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Red Feather

246 N 8th Street

Needing a break from riding our bikes around in the heat, we decided to pop into Red Feather to sample their martini offerings. They actually are only serving one martini and have two cocktails.

The line up:
Plymouth Gin, Vya Dry Vermouth, Olive

Tolerance Juice
Absolut Vodka, Fresh Ginger, Fresh Lemon, Pineapple, Housemade Ginger Ale

Tequila, Cointreau, Fresh Lime, Fresh Grapefruit, Farm Fresh Egg White, Rhubarb Bitters

Since Plymouth Gin is one of my faves, I was delighted to see it for the martini selection. The Quintesence was tasty but it was not an award winner. It is certainly a drink I would order again but it didn’t have any distinguishing qualities. It was just another martini in my book- a good, solid martini.

The Tolerance Juice was fantastic. The ginger was a great highlight of the drink and really came through in the finish. There was certainly a lot going on in this drink and took a few sips to really break it down but tasty anyway! I saw them make this drink and the Ginger Ale was not homemade but Seagram’s brand.

The Dejabrew was too weird for me. I am not a big fan of the frothy egg white. It creeps me out a little. The other problem with this drink is the over powering tequila. The tequila really over shadowed the delicate flavors in the drink.

We can’t say too much about the service as we only ordered up one round of drinks and no food, so our order was pretty simple and we didn’t stay long.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


855 W Broad Street

We were kind of surprised to see Bonefish on the list of locations as it is not a locally owned restaurant but we were ready to try it out none-the-less. We immediately requested a seat on the patio since it was a perfect day. Our server made us laugh from the very beginning with her quick wit. She let us have it at every opportunity. We loved her!

But let’s get to the drinks:
The Smokey
Titos unfiltered Vodka and Chivas Scotch shaken to create a smoky clean finish. Garnished with a chipotle stuffed olive.

The Bandit
American Honey Manhattan accompanied with a splash of Butterscotch liquor, garnished with a sweet honeyed rim.

El Pepino
Absolut Vodka infused with cucumbers, lime juice, and crushed mint.

We immediately ordered up all three (luckily they still had one El Pepino left). While we waited for our drinks we perused the menu and reviewed our coupons. Two of us had coupons for some appetizers…plus it was happy hour (even on Sunday!). Huge bonus points already!

Back to the drinks. The Smokey….well I’m not sure I got that much “smoke” out of it but it did make me gasp a little from the scotch. I’m not a huge scotch fan though so that was my problem. After a few sips though, I didn’t seem to mind it so much. I guess it is an acquired taste. The chipotle stuffed olives were very spicy.

The Bandit was sneaky good. Who doesn’t like a rim of honey?? And the addition of the butterscotch, definitely yummy. I expected it to be sweeter but it was surprisingly balanced in sweetness and martini-ness.

The El Pepino was served on ice with a cucumber and mint sprig garnish. It was refreshing with the cucumber up front and a mint finish. It may have had a little too much cucumber though; a bit more subtleness would have been better.

Back to food. We ordered up all kinds of goodies from their happy hour menu (3-6pm and 9-close). They seriously had some great deals. 2 Bang Bang Shrimp Tacos for $4 (huge), ½ off coconut shrimp, calamari, and more! And it was all really good.

To sum up the martini mix off….their martinis were fine. To sum up their happy hour….we will definitely be back! And while they are a chain restaurant, we have decided that since they hire locals to staff it, it is still a place we can patron!


610 Grove Street

Stop 3 of Martini Mix-off 2009

I’d like to provide full disclosure from the beginning here. I’m not a huge fan of Bardenay. There vodka sucks…tastes like tequila which would be fine if I was ordering tequila but not when I’m ordering vodka. Plus the place is noisy and doesn’t have great energy flow. Ok, there I said it all, now moving on to Martinis!

This year they are mixing up:
Bardenay Bond
Bardenay Gin, Bardenay Vodka, and Lillet Blanc “shaken not stirred”

The Sixth Sense
Absolut Citron, Six traditional spices, and a house prepared juice blend of watermelon, honeydew, and lemon

Masala Martini
Absolut Peppar, Yellow Chartreuse, Yazi Ginger Vodka, Godiva Chocolate Liqueur, Starbuck’s Coffee Liqueur, Oregon Chai, a float of cream, and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

The Bardenay Bond was served with one of our favorite garnishes- the bleu cheese stuffed olive. Yum! This martini had an in-your-face alcohol taste. There wasn’t much subtleness to it at all, much like the recent Bond films, so appropriately named. It might be better just made with the gin since the vodka sucks.

The Sixth Sense was a favorite of a few at the table. I found it to be a bit too fruity, or at least watermelon-y but I’m not a fan of watermelon. If you like sweet and you like fruity, you will like this one!

The Masala Martini was definitely unique. Upon the first sip, the chai flavor of the spices really comes out. Then suddenly the finish is this big spicy kick from the Absolut Peppar. Beautiful presentation of an Asian symbol made with a dusting of cinnamon on top. This is dessert in a glass.

Overall, we didn’t come to a unanimous choice at this location. Service was adequate. We did not order food. Not sure any of us would return specifically for any of the martini options.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


601 Main Street

Stop 2 of Martini mix-off 2009

My friends and I met for brunch, martinis, and bottomless mimosas on a fine Sunday morning. There is some nice seating outside but all the seats out of the sun were already taken so we opted for inside dining. The restaurant seemed short on staff initially when it took some time before seeing any staff but once they came out of hiding we received excellent service.

We were quite impressed with the brunch menu. While it was not a huge selection, it had just the right amount of options to please all. The prices were great as well, ranging from $5-$9 with excellent sized portions. Each of us raved about our dishes with not one negative remark to be had. Brunch, along with $6 bottomless mimosas is enough to make anyone happy….of course we didn’t stop there….we were there for martinis!

We ordered up one of each of the options:
Blue-By-You- (Classic Martini)
Magellan Gin served with a Kumquat garnish

Limonare (Cocktail category)
Seagrams Gin, Campari, Lemoncello, lemon sour, flamed lemon peel garnish

French Connection (Original martini)
Martell VS Cognac, Charteuse and Barenjager, Liquers, lime sour, honeycomb garnish

We thought we would like the French Connection the least but it turned out to be, hands down, the best! The combination was very odd but it worked so incredibly well together and had the perfect balance of the flavors. With just a little taste of the honeycomb and a sip of the cocktail, heaven emerges. So fantastic!

The idea behind the Blue-By-You is to take a sip, then a small bite of the kumquat, then another sip. The gin is actually made from Iris (and several other spices and botanicals) and the kumquat brings out its essence. The blue tint of the gin naturally occurs from the botanicals. The blue and orange contrast adds to its beautiful presentation. While it is a very good martini, it didn’t create a buzz at the table. I liked it but it hasn’t been my favorite.

The Limonare was different. Campari definitely is the predominant flavor in this beverage and unique for sure. This drink looked like it would be fruity but it was rather tart, almost bitter. Not to say this is a negative, just that it appeals to a select few…..I am not one of them.

This turned out to be a great stop on the list! Brunch at Pair will definitely happen again!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tablerock Brew Pub

705 Fulton Street

Stop 1 of the Martini Mix-Off 2009

This year’s mix-off maintains the Classic and Original categories while throwing in a cocktail category. This worked well when 3 of us participated at Tablerock Brew Pub. We each ordered a different drink and were able to sample all.

I ordered the Classic titled JudgSmails. It was made with British Dry Gin and Lillet. It had a sweetness to it not what I usually find in a classic martini. No garnish but I suggested a lemon or orange twist would be appropriate. This was a nice, smooth martini. The gin had a subtleness that I enjoyed as I do not care for the often over-powering juniper flavor of many gins.

Monica ordered the Original titled Lacey Vinderale. It was a combination of Tarragon infused Absolut (the event’s sponsor), Absolut Citron, and pink grapefruit juice. While I found the tarragon infusion to add great interest to this drink, the tartness was a bit overwhelming. It also appeared to only be regular grapefruit juice instead of pink which would probably help to greatly improve the cocktail. Again, this was not served with a garnish.

Fran is not a big fan of the martini, so she selected the Cocktail: Ty Webb. This lovely cocktail included Absolut, Chambord, Fume Blanc, and (supposedly) fresh grapes. Said grapes never did appear.....again, no garnish?!?! The glass did arrive sugar rimmed with cocktail on the rocks. The cocktail had a nice amount of sweetness to it and all the flavors were well balanced.

All-in-all we enjoyed our brief time at Tablerock Brew Pub. The service was decent, a bit confused at times, but fine just the same. It was nice having a patio to enjoy our cocktails and a bike rack for our rides. While the cocktails were all pleasant, I’m not sure they have what it takes to compete against some of the competition. And please, add some garnish!!

Friday, March 20, 2009


111 N 11th Street

Time: 1-8 Daily
Special: $1 drafts; $2 wells
Rating: 4 martinis
Smoking: Yes
Other mentions: Full Bar, seating outside

Neurolux has always been a great favorite of mine with its eclectic style and stiff, cheap drinks! This first day of spring was no different. It was a perfect day to sit outside on the patio and watch the cars go by.

This day did not have outside service but it was quiet enough inside that a walk up to the bar rendered drinks quickly. Several regulars lingered at the bar, while a few played pool in the expanded back area.

While Neurolux might be one of my favorite stops it isn’t for everyone. It is smoky inside. It serves up some of the stiffest drinks around. If you prefer to be around people in suits and crisp shirts, well this might not be the place for you. If you like variety, live music that is not mainstream, and the occasional theater production, you need to try it out!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Happy Fish

855 Broad Street

Time: 4-6 M-F
Special: $5 select martinis and sake
Rating: 4 martinis
Smoking: No
Other mentions: Full sushi menu; lunch menu prices until 4:30 pm

Happy Fish is a fun little sushi establishment located off the alley between 8th and 9th off Broad Street. It has offerings of sashimi, nigiri, rolls, tempura, and even some cooked yummies. There are about 10 tables inside with additional seating at the sushi bar and outside, weather permitting.

Happy hour provides 4 different martini options as well as a hot sake. The martinis include a House vodka or gin martini, Cosmo, Happy Lemon Drop, or the Happy Hour Sakatini. Some of these are only for the happy hour special. I enjoyed the Happy Lemon Drop during my visit which is made with a Ginger Vodka. The ginger is a great complement to the basic lemon drop and actually makes them go down quickly.

I also enjoyed some food since I had arrived while the lunch menu was still available (much cheaper!). I had the Sushi Moriawase for $10 compared to the $15 on the dinner menu. This came with soup, nigiri (including my favorite- Taco), and a roll that I could eat (sans avocado!). The service was great, even with the changing of the guard during my tenure on the barstool. The food was good. The Happy Lemon Drops made me very happy!

This could become dangerous with the proximity to my office.....i’m already craving another Happy Lemon Drop!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Falcon Tavern

780 W Idaho Street

Time: 4-6 Daily
Special: 2 for 1 pints and other rotating daily specials
Rating: 4 martinis
Smoking: No
Other mentions: Full menu. Beer and wine but no liquor.

The Falcon Tavern is a great little pub in the heart of downtown Boise. It isn’t a large place but is efficient with what it has. There are about 10 seats at the bar and about 12 2-4 top tables for dining or just enjoying a beer or two after work. During nice weather, there is seating available on the patio, making for some great people watching.

I arrived right at 4 anxious to start my weekend. There were already a handful of folks at the bar and a few tables full. I chose a 2 top along the back wall. I was unfamiliar with most of the beers on tap so the server kindly brought me a couple of samples. The beer was tasty and the atmosphere nice. By about 5:30 all the tables were full, as were the seats at the bar. I can see why this place has a great appeal.

While I didn’t order any food this trip, I have on other occasions. They have the basics of pub fare covered, such as burgers and sandwiches but they also provide several salad choices and daily specials. The prices are reasonable and the portions generous. I will definitely go back and most likely soon!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mai Thai

750 W Main Street

Time: 5-6:30 M-F 9-10 M-TH
Special: daily bottled beer selection $2, 2 for 1 wells $5, mojitos $5
Appetizer specials
Rating: 4 martinis
Smoking: no

Food specials!
satay (chicken, pork or tofu)
spring roll or summer roll
thai wing
three flavors popcorn chicken
imperial vegetable potsticker
thai taco
asian chicken lettuce wraps
seafood packets
lotus dim sum

Matt and I went out for drinks for my birthday! I have gone to Mai Thai on my birthday every year it has been open except one when I was out of town. The bar area was nearly vacant but the restaurant looked mostly full.

Thomas was our bartender. He gave us the low down and we quickly ordered a beverage and appetizers. While the appetizers are cheap, they are also very small. I’m not complaining, because they were very tasty! I’m just saying that you should not expect to get the same item you would get on the regular menu. I ordered the summer roll and the satay. Mai Thai’s summer roll is one of my favorites. I often attempt to recreate it and think I come very close, but there is nothing like having someone else make it for you! ……especially on your birthday. My only problem of the night is Thomas trying to rush us off. Thirty minutes after receiving our drinks, he asked if we were ready to tab out…..it was before 7! He qualified it with “you don’t look like drinkers”. Well that is good but it was my birthday!! I at least enjoyed my company. We moved on…..but I’ll be back sometime…..

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


601 Main Street

Time: 3-6 M-F
Special: $5 infused martinis and $3 select appetizers
Rating: 4 martinis
Smoking: no

Pair is a swanky restaurant at the corner of 6th and Main Streets. The bar area provides great seating with swivel, jetson-like chairs and faux leather sofas. The other side of the establishment is more restaurant than bar but the line of transition is a bit blurred, allowing for easy spill over from either side.

The martinis on special include Blackberry, Tangerine, Strawberry, Rosemary Lemon Drop, and a Mango concoction. I tried the Rosemary Lemon Drop and was pleasantly surprised. It had just the right amount of everything in it.

The appetizer specials include the mini wimpi burger, artichoke spread, hummus, edemame, age tofu, and pommes frites. I ordered the hummus. It came with a generous portion, along with pita wedges and olive tapenade. The hummus was fine but not spectacular. The tapenade was nothing more than pimento stuffed green olives chopped. While not very impressive it was adequate for $3.

The service was good and the ambiance was great. The happy hour selection isn’t vast but is perfect if you are after something a bit different. During warmer months, outdoor seating is available for great people watching. I also noticed that Pair serves brunch on weekends with $6 bottomless mimosas. I’ll have to return on a weekend soon!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Café Ole


8th Street Marketplace
*some call this BODO but technically BODO is the new construction and this is not. The buildings even have signage at the doors stating “8th Street Marketplace”.

Time: 4:30-6 M-F
Special: 2 for 1 drinks (any drink!)
Rating: 4 Martinis
Smoking: No
Other mentions: Free chips and salsa and a $3 all you can eat taco bar (only in the bar). Each day offers up different food specials. Cell reception can be spotty if seated in the back corner of the bar.

I met up with 8 others this particular evening. The bar is rather large so it was easy to accommodate all of us. Several folks ordered a variety of margaritas, including one frothy pink one. By the multiple orders of margaritas, I will assume they were to everyone’s liking. I had my usual Vodka and Soda and it was very satisfactory. The server brought us several baskets of chips served with beans and salsa. Their chips are soooo good. Considering the size of our party, I found the service to be acceptable, however the clearing of our table of the empties was very slow. We really didn’t need to show off how much we can drink! I will definitely return (it also helps that it is across the street from my office too!).

Monday, January 19, 2009

Leku Ona

117 S. 6th Street
Boise, ID 83702

Time: 4-5:30
Special: ½ off Stella and Budweiser draughts, $1.75 wells, ½ off wine M-Sat
Rating: 3 martinis
Smoking: only in the bar which is separate from the restaurant
Other mentions: Full menu available

Located on the Basque block, this restaurant couldn’t have a better location. The place is rather large with its corner location and entrances from Grove Street and 6th Street. Leku Ona has also restored the building next door into a boutique hotel, which I find perfect. The rooms are updated yet cozy, located in the heart of Old Boise, and very reasonably priced (around the $70/night range).

The bar is well stocked with a variety of options and there appeared to be 5 beers on tap- micro brews and domestics. They also have a selection of Basque beers in the bottle. The wine selection is good with just the right amount of options and all reasonably priced. I still have yet to eat at Leku Ona but the menu items look tasty. They are all available in the bar with appetizers ranging from $4-10.

A mixture of folks hangs out at Leku Ona, from local artists to politicians to those from the Basque country. This eclectic assortment of patrons is one of the great things I love about the establishment, plus it is locally owned! While it was rather smoky in there, I would still go back especially in the summer time and enjoy the large patio area.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Highlands Hollow

2455 Harrison Hollow Lane

Time: 3-7 S-S
Special: $2.75 draughts
Rating: 3 martinis
Smoking: No
Other mentions: happy hour is 7 days a week! A full menu with a large vegetarian section. Seasonal patio seating.

This place has been around as long as I’ve been in town, but back then it was Harrison Hollow. It has undergone a name change but I haven’t noticed any other distinct changes- this is a good thing. It was great just the way it was and it still is!

Highlands Hollow brews its own tasty beers and offers up a great selection, perfect after a day on the mountain- biking or skiing. Their beers range from light ales to stouts. They feature a ginger wheat, a berry, and a winter selection. The variety is fantastic. They also offer up an unexpectedly good selection of wines.

The clientele varies as much as the beverage selection. I have seen skiers, cyclists, families, even news casters in the establishment at any given time. The food menu is also just as yummy as the beer, and the service is excellent. Definitely a keeper on the short list.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Modern Hotel and Bar

1314 W Grove Street

Time: 5-7 pm
Special: $3.50 wells, $5 wines, and $3 beers
Rating: 4 Martinis
Smoking: No
Other mentions: No food is served

Located in the revamped Linen District, The Modern Hotel is a renovated Travel Lodge with amazing updates. It has gone from dive hotel to swanky destination. This was my first trip to The Modern Bar, a small bar located off the hotel lobby. I’ve ridden my bicycle past the hotel on several occasions when live music was playing in the courtyard and it has been on my short list of places to try, and finally I made it!

When I first walked up to the hotel it wasn’t initially clear where the entrance was to the bar, and still isn’t, so I just walked into the lobby and asked directions. Turns out, it is just down the hall from the front desk.

It was a Monday so it was no surprise to find only two people in the intimate bar. They each had laptops and phone calls going, so I will assume they were still working. If I had to work after 5, The Modern Bar is not a bad place to do it.

The décor is simple and modern, yet soothing. There are five sets of white antlers on one wall that seemed odd but art is often odd so I didn’t think much of it. The inset, overhead lighting was strategically placed over each table to provide enough light to work, see the cocktail menu, or write notes about ones visit.

I was quickly greeted by the bartender/server and told the happy hour specials: $3.50 wells, $5 wines, and $3 beers (I did not see any draught beer however). I ordered up my usual vodka and soda with lime. I did explore the minimal cocktail menu and was surprised by what a punch it really provides for so few items. It is clear that the proprietors put a great deal of thought into it with a less-is-more style. I will return!