Beer hunting can take you to odd places, where you wouldn’t expect to find yourself: the dark dive bar you’ve passed but never visited, the new brewery started by someone who never thought she’d own her own spot. And sometimes it takes you to a cafe in Pioneer Square, the sight of a fictional murder mystery involving, among other things, a giant beaver costume and a great new beer cocktail.
Café Nordo, the high-ceilinged theater on Main Street, is producing a new Twin Peaks-inspired performance complete with eerie music, dark suits, pencil ties, and a five-course dinner menu inspired by breakfast. The evening’s theme: Things aren’t always what they seem. For instance, the first course is “Egg on Toast,” but the egg white is really a ricotta spread and the yolk a purée of yellow peppers, yellow tomato, and saffron that runs when you put your fork through it.
Like the lead Special Agent in Café Nordo’s Lost Falls (running through June 25), I was in search of something, and that something was the first course’s “cocktail.” A Bloody Mary parody called a “7 AM Shot,” it’s a mix of Orlison Brewing Company’s Clem’s Gold Pale Lager, olive juice, lemon juice, and hot sauce. It’s a puckery, sour beverage—much like a Sour Ale, actually—light in body but tangy due to the splash of hot sauce. The first sip widens your eyes.
While the cafe has several other beer options, including the big-bodied EVO IPA and malty Amber Ale, both from local Two Beers Brewing, the 7 AM is the oddball star. While it may not be the world’s next drink craze, it is memorable and unique and eases in intensity—like a fine cocktail—once the ice has time to melt. But drinking the 7 AM, I couldn’t help but wonder (cue Carrie Bradshaw): Why aren’t more beer cocktails served throughout the city?
Beer is a delicious and versatile ingredient—from sweet to sour and light to dark. And while some bars do offer beer cocktails—including Smith’s Park Street Sour with rye, amaretto, lemon, and Russian Imperial Stout—it remains surprising that more bars don’t offer such options on their menus to add a little whimsy.
Seattleite Natalie Migliarini, who writes for the website porchdrinking.com, is well known in the industry for her beer-cocktail recipes—such as her Kentucky Derby Beer Cocktail, made with bourbon, strawberries, and Two Beers Brewing Trailhead ISA. And maybe more of them will find their way into local bars to infuse our mixed drinks with some fizz and hop. But in the meantime, while Café Nordo searched for clues to solve the mystery, it served just what I was looking for.