Low lighting does something to me.
The flicker of a precious few candles in a nearly pitch-black room moves me.
Restrained, expensive décor wins me over.
I am a sucker for dark-walled rooms punctuated with furniture that has more style than practicality.
I like old-fashioned cocktails that are as aggressive as the men who used to order them.
And I like a good pickup line.
All these reasons are why the lounge at Bourbon Steak has ruined me for other bars.
The Michael Mina-run destination restaurant at the Fairmont Scottsdale hosts Social Thursdays, during which the breathtakingly pricey drinks are half-off, all night.
(I don't mind expensive drinks per se, but, due to certain "austerity measures" placed on me by my own common sense, you will not find me here on any other day of the week.)
There are no food specials or other happy hour-style concessions. Sure, a server will place a bowl of truffled popcorn on your table, but it's not really intended to be food so much as it's intended to make you hungry for food.
Guests are invited to order from the main menu.
But my friends and I ordered the duck fat-fried fry trio, which is not on the menu a la carte, and we were thrilled when they arrived moments later, only $8 and wildly crispy.
But on to the drinks.
The menu is as finely edited as the interior design, which is not to say it is spare, but it is tasteful and thoughtfully presented. The 12 pages of recipes call for specific liquors, and guests are left to reference prices in the back of the book by the type of liquor and then the brand name.
And while this means a vodka-based cocktail could be $10 or $16, it also means that the individual flavor profiles of each liquor has been considered, and that the one best suited to pair with the other mixers has been chosen for the drink. In this way, the job of the bartender is his alone, and the outcome of the mixing process is not determined by price or your own penchant for any one particular brand.
Many of the cocktails sound idiosyncratic to a generations brought up on flavored vodka sodas, vodka and Redbulls and imported beers.
But they are not flights of fancy, merely holdovers from an era when people drank, drank often, and drank well, sometimes at their desks.
There is a Gimlet, a Vesper, a Rob Roy, and five kinds of non-flavored martinis. There are three kinds of Teas, two kinds of Mules, a Cable- and Sidecar, as well as both White and Pink ladies. There is even a God-family: father, mother and child.
But about those pickup lines, I didn't hear any. Rather, a selection of clever ones is printed on the reverse side of the coasters, with space for a phone number.
My favorite: "If you are going to regret this in the morning, we can sleep until the afternoon."
You, however, will not regret your visit.
Details: 7575 E. Princess Drive, Scottsdale, 480-513-6002, michaelmina.net.