This devilishly impish looking dude is Doc Downs, the bar manager and beer director at Flyte World Dining and Wine at 718 Division St. across from Frugal McDoogal. In our continuing search for the perfect summer libation, we made a visit to the comfortable clubby bar atmosphere of Flyte's lounge.
Downs was more than ready to assist us in our quest. During an entertaining hour before dinner, the restaurant graciously held our reserved table for us until we were ready to make the move from liquid to solid entertainment. Doc regaled us with stories of his career as a Nashville restaurateur/rock and roller and with the philosophy and background of every ingredient of every cocktail he mixed for us. From the role of women in the creation of beer to the history of absinthe and spiced rums, Doc is a fascinating font of mixology history and sociology. Our party felt as though we should have received continuing education credits for enjoying his amusing performance.
So what did he suggest to our thirsty crew? For those hot summer nights, Doc recommended a Skinny Dip. Mais oui! But the skinny dip he was referring to was a seasonal offering from the brewers at New Belgium, makers of the popular Fat Tire Amber Ale and Mothership Wit. The Skinny Dip is a bit lighter than the rest of the New Belgium offerings, citrusy with a hint of lime. Downs described it as a cross between a wit and a pilsner that is full-bodied enough to stand up to grilled meats and seafood but still light enough to refresh on a hot summer day. We described it as kick-ass.
For those who prefer palliatives, Doc offered two excellent cocktails, the Sunflower and his famous Patio Punch. The Sunflower featured a hot new property in the world of liqueurs, a Spanish import called Licor 43. This bright citrus/vanilla concoction claims to have 43 separate components in the mix. Added to vodka and OJ, shaken to a beautiful froth and topped with fresh shaved nutmeg, the Licor 43 made the Sunflower a popular choice at our end of the bar.
Several members of our party expressed suspicion of the Patio Punch, fearing one of those Hawaiian Punch + dark rum + light rum + 151 rum + spiced rum + redrum combinations that inevitably lead to horrible hangovers and questionable romantic decisions. Doc assured us that his version was based around the new Raspberry Skyy infused vodka. The fact that it was Skyy instead of rum and a true infusion rather than artificial flavoring added to PGA assuaged our concerns. Those who made the leap of faith were rewarded with a refreshing raspberry, lime and ginger ale mix over rocks that fairly danced on the tongue. No colorful umbrellas necessary!
Like the flavor profiles in fine food, drink recipes like these depend on a delicate interplay between ingredients. This is no place for amateur mixologists. Trust the professionals like Doc Downs at Flyte to cure what ails you.