If you’re looking for a cocktail in Anchorage, drop in at the Haute Quarter Grill on 4th Street. You’ll find a convivial atmosphere, great food with a personal flair from Chef Alex, and an impressive list of boozy concoctions.
Haute Quarter leans toward fruity and floral expressions with several vodka drinks, steps up nicely with some gin creations, tantalizes with tequila, and—this is Alaska, after all—puts forth some tasty whiskey classics, modified with their own particular whimsy.
One standout is the Donkey Dines Out, an amazingly simple fruity variation on a beloved classic, the Moscow Mule. The old familiar Mule, in itself a simple but satisfying concoction of vodka, lime and ginger beer served properly in an icy copper cup (it’s part of the experience!) receives a fruity little twist with Absolut Hibiskus Vodka. Hibiscus, also known in the Caribbean as Jamaica (huh-my-kuh) adds a touch of fruit punch which plumps it up a bit. The extra sweetness is nicely balanced out with the tart lime and spicy ginger beer. Just make sure to use ginger beer (preferably Cock n Bull Ginger Beer) if you’re trying this at home; ginger ale will NOT be sufficient.
Another Haute Quarter cocktail that beckons is the Miso Hannya, a clever combination of Patron Reposado Tequila, fresh strawberries, lime, and spicy sake with a sweet and salty rim. There’s a lot going on here, with the sake adding an unexpected taste angle.
The perennial favorite, however, amongst the bar staff and the customers of the Haute Quarter, is the Salty Grandma. What’s a Salty Grandma?, you may ask. An altogether delightful and nicely balanced melding of the cucumber-and-rosewater-driven Hendrick’s Gin, grapefruit juice, Grand Marnier, and a salted rosemary-honey syrup. Add a partially salted rim and a small sprig of fresh rosemary floating on top as garnish, and you have an exceptionally tasty and compelling cocktail.
Again, there’s quite a bit going on here, but much of it is muted, sort of a sotto voce, an understatement achieved by balance, where all the components are there, but none are dominant. It is pretty, aromatically enticing, and complex with flavors. All in all, a remarkably pleasing cocktail.
And why the name Salty Grandma? Who knows. Could be the salt/gin/grapefruit (Salty Dog) connection. Also might be a “salty Grand Marnier”. Grand Marnier…Grand-ma…get it? Don’t think too much about it; just drink and enjoy.
When you arrive at Anchorage as the gateway to the magnificence of Denali and the Yukon hinterlands, stop off at Haute Quarter first for a bracing cocktail and a series of small plates. You’ll be glad you did.