Pepper Blossom at Root Down

Wow. I can only hope that every bar I go to in 2009 will be half as well-designed as Root Down, a pure-genius revival of a '50s service station. Though I'd originally heard that the restaurant was named after the Beastie Boys song, bartender Chine set me straight: It's actually named after the Jimmy Smith jazz song sampled by the Beastie Boys. As I understand it, the Root Down concept combines all the best elements of music into a funky mix that makes you want to dance — just like one of Root Down's cocktails, which come from a menu designed by Hemi Cuda's Anika Zappe. My favorite was the Pepper Blossom ($8), made with St-Germain, Prairie organic vodka, muddled basil, lemon jalapeño and agave. To make sure your night at Root Down ends on an up note, don't park across the street in front of seemingly unused boat storage — or you'll end up with a $25 parking ticket as a chaser.


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