Making the perfect cocktail means making the right choices — sweet, sour, salty — in the right amounts. The same might be said of creating an inviting cocktail lounge, even in pairing unexpected elements.
That's what Star Nieves thought when she met friends at Stir, a new cocktail lounge and bar in Hayden.
"When I walked in," says Nieves, who was visiting from Boise, "I thought 'martini bar,' but it looks like a sports bar."
That's intentional, says Ray Hofacker, who runs Stir with his business partner, Scott Morris.
"We didn't want to do the typical plush thing," he says. "We want everyone to feel comfortable."
So while there are blue lights over the bar, high-top tables and dark wood, the lodge-like interior is an echo of the location's former life as the short-lived Moose Creek Pub. And although Stir has eight televisions mounted throughout, on a busy Friday night the volume was turned down so you could hear the music and, more important, each other.
Laminated drink menus on the tables encourage top-shelf, signature cocktails. Channelling a little Sex in the City, our girls-night-out group ordered cosmopolitans and French martinis, as well as a variation on the classic Lemon Drop featuring PAMA pomegranate liqueur ($9-$11).
Many of the recipes, explains Hofacker, are throwbacks to pre-Prohibition times. Examples include the classic Manhattan — they use Maker's Mark — and the Gibson with Tanqueray gin and the requisite onion.
Other drinks have more modern origins, like the James Bond movie-inspired Vesper with Bombay Sapphire gin and Grey Goose vodka. Stir shakes up the Moscow Mule with a Horney Mule — Hornitos Tequila and Cock'n Bull ginger beer — and the Angry Mule with Angry Orchard cider ($7).
You can also order off the menu — substituting house brands, for example — including from six rotating beer taps. Food is available from neighboring Northwest Pizza Company, ranging from hot wings to stuffed meatballs ($7-$9.50).
Weekly specials include their very popular Wednesday night bingo and Thursday ladies night, as well as timely events like the Super Bowl. ♦
Stir • 8166 N. Government Way, Hayden • Open daily, noon-1 am • facebook/stirhayden.com • 208-719-0427