We got a sneak peek last night at Bon Bon — the swanky new, Dan Spalding-designed cocktail bar inside the Garland Theater — when bar manager Brooklynd Johnson extended an invite to a private gathering there.
The reason it was private? After six months, Bon Bon is still wrestling with the state over a liquor license — a struggle documented in a Spokesman-Review feature today. (We featured the bar in a story about the Garland neighborhood in March.) At issue is not liquor, but food. With fewer than 35 seats, Bon Bon is required to provide four "forkable" dishes — a problem considering that the narrow closet on one side of the small, angled room is all they have by way of a kitchen. (If they were a nightclub, with capacity over 100, they wouldn't be required to serve food.)
We wish them well, because the place is cool. Johnson presided from inside of a sleek, J-shaped bar with a wood-grain counter top. Behind the bar was an old-timey cash register, an empty-shelved bar back with sliding wrought iron doors that spelled out the establishment's name. Against one wall ran one long booth, in chocolate shades that echoed the place's former use as the Garland's candy counter.
Johnson — who we profiled in this year's Bar Guide, and in a story I wrote about up-and-comers on Spokane's cocktail scene — commanded the sleek bar, mixing tequila-based drinks throughout the night with a kind of academic precision. Among her concoctions: 100 Anos tequila with a homemade sangrita chaser, and a variation on a Guadalajara that used tequila, vermouth and the French herbal liqueur Benedictine (with a lemon twist).
Johnson had hooked her iPod up to the stereo system at the start of the evening and let it run alphabetically. At one point in the evening, the Avett Brothers, in their song, "I and Love and You," crooned, "Brooklyn, Brooklyn, take me in."
If the bar and the liquor control board can come to an agreement, this may be the refrain of many the thirsty tippler in the Garland neighborhood and throughout the city.