Happy Hour Libations at Sorrel Urban Bistro

I was thrilled to see a promising new restaurant like Sorrel fill the near-empty corner mall on the West Alabama. Those lots were looking quite sad and lonely.

I was out of town for Sorrel's opening but salivated from afar over Mai Pham's lovely post and gorgeous photos. So, I put "Try Sorrel" on my back-to-school to-do list, right after "Buy stock in all companies selling A/C units."

Indeed, the heat has made me even more obsessed with beverages, so I decided to hit up Sorrel's happy hour before committing to a hotter (and pricier) meal.

Around 5:30 p.m. early in the week the restaurant was understandably quiet. A distinguished older gentleman (owner? manager) ran to hold the door for me and no fewer than three servers wished me good evening. The waitstaff overall seemed a bit skittish: you could tell they were anxious to be on their toes in light of the restaurant's fairly recent opening. I found this nervous, eager-to-please attitude quite endearing.

My first drink, an apple martini, was painfully, albeit wonderfully, cold. Sweet, uncomplicated notes of sour apple combined with bitter alcoholic undertones for a crisp, refreshing cocktail. I think I even said ahhh out loud.

The apple martini was so good I would have ordered a second, but I was curious about Sorrel's version of a cosmopolitan. I've gushed before about the cosmopolitan at The Stag's Head, which remains my favorite in town.

Sorrel's cosmopolitan needs some work. A common mistake in cosmo construction is the addition of excess cranberry juice, which makes for a saccharine beverage. Surprisingly, this wasn't the problem here: the cosmo was just bland in flavor and lukewarm in temperature. Well drinks need not be weak just because they contain cheap(er) liquor. This cosmo was sort of like diluted Kool-Aid that had been left sitting on the picnic table all afternoon.

The terrific apple martini is reason enough for me to return to Sorrel, though next time I may pony up for a more innovative libation (e.g., the $12 cucumber-mint caipirinha). The restaurant is very close to my apartment, which means the money I'll save on gas and the extra calories I'll expend walking justifies ordering some duck risotto and a veal chop to go with those cocktails, yes? I think so.

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