The shroud-like covers over the bar lights and the impending storm made it seem like evening at Bleu Restaurant & Bar, but enough light shone in for me to feel a little embarrassed ordering a mid-afternoon martini called “Girl Scout.”
I’d pulled up a stool at the bar in southwest Winston-Salem while practically nobody was around, shortly after a cluster of laughing middle-aged women made their way to their cars. But as I glanced over the list of 16 specialty martinis, a regular showed up with her college-bound daughter, fresh from some back-to-school shopping. Moments later a couple more patrons arrived, as did a second beer distributor and another restaurant employee, but by this point, I’d already committed to the chocolate-flavored martini and no amount of ingrained gender roles would stop me.
Indeed, I have a history of brushing aside gender norms when it comes to the dessert-loving girl gang, having been dragged along to my share of Brownie meetings as a kid while my mom acted as my sister’s troop leader. But this time instead of reluctantly playing my Game Boy off to the side and waiting to leave, I’d arrived of my own volition.
The Girl Scout, a three-liqueur cocktail served in a martini glass, is designed to taste like a Thin Mint, the cookie best consumed frozen and rivaled only by the classic Caramel deLite (though I admit to recently falling for Lemonades and the occasional Peanut Butter Patties). Arriving in a chilled glass — appropriately mimicking a frozen cookie — lined with a drizzled chocolate pattern, the drink looks almost like an out-of-place milkshake though it holds a consistency closer to chocolate milk.
Nobody cracked any jokes at my order, other than the bartender commenting that I’d decided to have dessert first, and when it arrived I eagerly sipped the sweetness.
Yes, this is one of those so-called “girly” cocktails, frowned upon by much of the liquor world and certainly not the drink of a connoisseur. But the regular near me drank a Bud Light, the daily special boasted drafts for $3, and I couldn’t care less.
I wanted to drink Thin Mints.
Bleu Restaurant & Bar isn’t the kind of place where anyone cares, either. With music reminiscent of a hotel lobby tinkling in the background and the sort of décor you’d expect from a place named Bleu, it lacks the judgmental attitude of some venues in the same genre. You have to if some of the drinks on your martini menu are made with Wild Turkey bourbon or rum. In my case, it came with a blend of liqueurs including Godiva Dark Chocolate, German-style peppermint schnapps Rumple Minze and the sweet and minty Crème de menthe.
The martini list draws on a fruit basket of flavors, including apple, cherry, watermelon and strawberry, and reaches towards the decadent with raspberry truffle, Key lime, tiramisu and bananas foster. Most are vodka — Stoli and Absolut — and just one uses gin, the Classic Bleu Jewel with Bombay Sapphire, dry vermouth and bleu cheese-stuffed olives. Regardless of which you favor, Thursday when they’re all half off is hard to beat.
As I finished the Thin Mints-inspired drink, spring rolls arrived for college-bound student down the bar. The appetizer smelled so alluring that I regretted closing out already, wishing I’d taken the bartender’s advice to take advantage of the restaurant’s mid-afternoon app discount. But greener grass aside, I’d satisfied my original urge for a cookie cocktail, and decided not to second-guess myself.
Visit Bleu Restaurant & Bar at 3425 Frontis St. (W-S) or at bleurestaurantandbar.com.