Anchorage is the largest city in Alaska—really, it’s a big, bustling widely sprawling town—and pretty much the gateway to the natural splendor of the state: the Chugach, Denali, the Yukon, Fairbanks, all to the north, and the Kenai Peninsula to the south.
If you spend any time at all in Anchorage (and you should because it’s a great town with lots to see, it’s loaded with interesting and colorful folks, and there are some appealing restaurants and watering holes) eventually you will end up at the Captain Cook Hotel, a block-sized, multiple-towered bastion of hospitality downtown, ultra-modern but maintaining the classic “Grand Hotel” feel. You can stay in luxurious comfort, with all the amenities and conveniences within the sprawling building, with multiple restaurants, cafes and wine bars throughout.
Find the appropriate tower (#3), punch the elevator button to the 20th Floor and you’ll find yourself in the posh leather-and-wood confines of the Crow’s Nest, a heralded restaurant and exceedingly well-stocked bar with a stunning view of the Cook Inlet, downtown Anchorage and the Chugach Mountains outside. It’s the perfect place to watch the sun go down with a cocktail in hand. Or not watch the sun go down, if it’s that time of year, Land of the Midnight Sun and all that. The bartenders are superbly trained, the wine list is one of the best in the state, and the atmosphere is elegant and hospitable.
TripAdvisor says the Crow’s Nest Bar “sets the standard for bars in Anchorage.” And FourSquare lists it at #1 of the 15 Best Bars in Anchorage.
(Note to all you brandy lovers out there: the Crow’s Nest maintains an impressive selection of fine aged Cognacs. That alone makes it a favored destination in my book.)
Joel, the bartender on duty, was friendly, efficient and quietly competent; he was well versed in both the classics—Manhattan and Martini, Old Fashioned and Margarita—but would happily direct you to a creatively crafted special of the house. I opted for a combination of the two: a simple, classic, pleasant cocktail with a single creative twist.
Tanqueray Old Tom Collins
There are few things as immediately refreshing as a properly made Tom Collins, the progenitor of the entire Collins family of tall drinks. But there are times when we wish to break out of the expected, the old standard, the tried-and-true.
Tanqueray has been on a roll of late. Their old standard in the iconic bright green fireplug bottle remains one of the consistently most called-for gins. For citrus lovers, they came out with another instant classic with the Tanqueray #10. The Rangpur Lime was a slightly tropical-asian delight. The Malacca was a wondrous revival from the Pacific Rim. And the Bloomsbury was a nod to the elegance of days gone by.
Then came the Tanqueray Old Tom Gin, hearkening back….far back…to the days before London Dry with its 0.1% sugar, when gin was slightly sweet, rounded, mellow and entirely mixable with pretty much anything.
In the early 1800s Old Tom Gin was the clear leader in gin styles. Then, with the onslaught of Dry Gin, it slipped precipitously, until a few years ago there were no Old Toms available in the U.S. market. With the revival of cocktail culture and craft bartending, that changed, and we began to see Old Toms once more. When the trend solidified, Tanqueray entered the game—and as usual, they offered a product of unquestionable quality and rich style.
The Tanqueray Old Tom Gin Collins at the Crow’s Nest is a wonderfully tasty and satisfying cocktail, a light sour with a slightly sweet taste, a rich and rounded texture, and a pleasing combination of botanicals and citrusy freshness. It is a perfect light tall drink to slowly sip while enjoying the sophistication of one of the best bars in Anchorage while gazing placidly over the splendid waters and mountains of Alaska.
So when you go to Anchorage, or even through Anchorage, make a high-rise pilgrimage to the Crow’s Nest in the Captain Cook Hotel. It’s a grand hotel, and a grand bar, and you’re sure to get a good drink.