First Call: Memories of Poor Choices Past at Aura

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Photos by M.P.
Tommy Estrada's got a cure for what ails you--assuming that what ails you is fear of shakin' it on the dance floor.
The watering hole: You've probably seen the ads: a topless brunette, seductively nibbling a manicured fingernail, toying with her pink hoop earrings. That's a deception. Over the course of two hours at Aura, the 5-month-old nightclub operating in a former restaurant space in Pioneer Square (309 1st Ave. S.), I saw nary a nipple. But the bumping-and-grinding crowd did do a whole lot of drinking, which is what led me to the small window of a cash-only bar with a neon Cocktails sign in the back. There I met ...

The barkeep: Tommy Estrada, who gets adorably shy when the camera comes out despite being a regulation hottie.

The drink: It was very loud. So our conversation went about like this:

Estrada: WHAT CAN I GET YOU?

Voracious: I NEED YOU TO MAKE ME WHAT YOU DRINK!

E: WHAT?

V: MAKE ME WHAT YOU DRINK! AND TWO GIN-AND-TONICS!

E: OKAY! (muffled, muffled) JAGER AND REDBULL!

So if you're wondering if bartenders at nightclubs like Aura drink the same thing as the patrons: yes, yes they do.

Estrada mixes the thick, cough-syrupy Jagermeister (making mine a double) into a glass where he's poured what looks to be an entire can of the energy drink. It's a bold choice in a bold bar.

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Sorry, kids. That top is going nowhere. But a couple more visits to Estrada and you won't care.
Most mixologists use First Call to show off a favorite cocktail creation. Others just pull out a Rainier tallboy.

You have to give Estrada credit. It takes guts (and probably a couple pulls of Jager yourself) to hand something over to a semi-professional drink critic that tastes like a combination of childhood illness and bad decisions in college.

The drink is sickly sweet and kind of medicinal, with enough caffeine to keep you mimicking the club's go-go dancers well past the time you'd intended to head home. Good thing you bought your friends those gin-and-tonics, otherwise your newfound drunken enthusiasm for dancing might seem a little obnoxious.

Estrada says that he started drinking the concoction as a teenager in Canada. ("Why" got lost in the pounding hip-hop, but I'm guessing it had something to do with the cold.) Then when he started bartending, there would be Jager left over at the end of the night, so he'd finish up with one of these before heading home.

If you don't see topless girls in ads and think "I need to be there right now!" this isn't your place, or your drink. But if you're ready to party (despite everyone's skimpy tops staying firmly in place), Estrada's got the fuel to keep you going.

 
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