Remember when the future was something to look forward to?
Casey Maxwell does. Though the concept of the future that consumes his latest project, The Lift Off Lounge, is outdated by more than half a century, it's certainly more comfortable than the modern idea of what the world might look like another 50 years from now.
And that's not to say there are servers flitting about on roller skates while Jetsons-inspired spaceships dangle from the ceiling. Known for his work with the defunct downtown industry haunt the Matador, as well as '70s-referencing den of decadence the Conquistador, Maxwell understands the virtue of understatement. The décor tickles the nostalgia receptors with hues of emerald and bold lines that call to mind '90s period pieces like The Rocketeer, and there's a mural of a happy-go-lucky moon in the bar's lower tier. But as far as nods to a '50s-style vision of life among the stars go, that's about it.
Much of the kitsch is concentrated on the cocktail menu. Timeless classics like the Vesper ($8) and the High Tone Old Fashioned ($9) share space with playfully retrograde items like the Thyme Gibson (thyme-infused vodka, dry vermouth and a pearl onion; $9). The soft astringence of the Grasshopper (crème de menthe, crème de cacao, Fernet-Branca, ice cream and whipped cream; $10) highlights a slate of old-timey dessert drinks that will hopefully become the next big thing at progressive cocktail bars.
Most of the food menu could be described as boomer food: steakhouse classics like a relish tray ($8), shrimp cocktail ($7) and chicken pot pie ($8), plus an incredible plate of onion rings for a paltry $5.
Who knows what better days we'll be pining for in the year 2070? Perhaps bars with white subway tiles, exposed wood and Prohibition-era cocktails? Or maybe everything will look like the set of Cheers, the role of Woody played by an IPA-dispensing robot created by Tesla? Or maybe the cycle of nostalgia is so deeply ingrained in our culture we'll eventually circle back to a bar exactly like the Lift Off. Provided we still have access to alcohol at that point, things could certainly be worse.
DRINK: The Lift Off Lounge, 5216 NE Sandy Blvd. 4 pm-2 am nightly.