Suite 410 is not the kind of place to order a Jäger bomb. It's dark, sleek, and modern in an understated, already classic way, even though it's brand new. The bar stools look like they came from the design collection at MoMA, and their invisible pneumatic mechanism gives them the slightest bit of bounce. A little after 9:00 last Saturday night, I sat on one and watched the bartender make a pisco sour, an old-school cocktail that contains Peruvian brandy, fresh lemon, and an egg white. The egg—organic, because that's the right thing to do, especially if you're going to drink it—sat atop the bar for a moment, a tiny piece of out-of-place art. The bartender narrated winningly as he went, adeptly separating the egg and saying its role was one of texture.
Though several ladies dressed in black balanced square white plates of hors d'oeuvres elegantly on their knees in one corner of the room, Suite 410 is indisputably aboutcocktails—cocktails as things of beauty, created in miniature acts of theater. Smoking is not allowed, and each drink costs $8.75; in Seattle, these two facts taken together signal that you're having an experience, not just a beverage. The pisco sour merits the attention. It tastes like a kinder, gentler, more refined margarita; the froth on top inspired an entirely complimentary comparison to another vintage favorite, the Orange Julius. It's from the "Resurrected" side of the drinks menu, along with other long-lost products of mixology like a casino cocktail. All get proper respect—a Henry Clay julep has gently muddled fresh mint, Makers Mark, a glass heaped with crushed ice, and a mint-leaf garnish that receives a nearly microscopic snowfall of confectioner's sugar.
If you're given to romanticizing a more elegant past and its concomitant libations, this is the place for you. If you want something more innovative, you might let the barkeep talk you into a selection from the "Originals," for instance, a "hot mango love." This kind of name for a drink goes against all I believe to be correct and virtuous, but a pisco sour makes a person malleable. The HML sounds complicated and potentially atrocious—it's got Finlandia mango vodka in it, for Christ's sake—but it's weirdly unfruity, delicious, and, indeed, hot from a little wheel of fresh jalapeno floating in it. Its preparation also entails a small stunt involving fire, which is always pleasing.
Sometime after 10:00 p.m., the place began suddenly filling up. A half-dozen guys occupied the cushy suede banquette opposite the bar, commenced shouting into their cell phones ("RIGHT NOW WE'RE AT—WHERE THE FUCK ARE WE?"), and, naturally, ordered Jäger bombs. The clowns having been sent in, the theater was over.
"Do you feel like some people really don't understand what you're doing here and you want to kill them?" I asked the bartender, who nodded vigorously.
Suite 410 (410 Stewart St, 624-9911) is open from 5 pm to 2 am daily.