$$$$ ($15-$24)

Editorial Review

Bar review: Trademark Drink & Eat

Wrapped with giant windows that extend to the soaring ceiling, the spacious Trademark Drink & Eat feels more like a restaurant anchoring a suburban town center than a bar at a Westin hotel just outside of Old Town Alexandria. Taking its name and theme from the nearby Patent and Trademark Office, it is decorated with images of Thomas Edison, Eli Whitney and other famous inventors. A semi-private dining area is separated by shelves crammed with books, birds’ nests, trophies and bell jars. It’s a shame that this decorating scheme doesn’t extend far beyond that one corner.

Trademark replaced the ho-hum Jam­ieson bar in November, and it has become quite a hit. The din is deafening at happy hour and the vibe is lively. There are few seats to be found at the long, curving bar or the long, curving communal tables parallel to it.

One reason for its popularity might be the cocktails crafted by Christopher Bassett, a former manager at Old Town’s well-known PX. His menu doesn’t have the Wonka-esque ingredients you’d expect from PX creator Todd Thrasher, but it’s dotted with clever flavor combinations. The Commonwealth Cocktail might have been inspired by a Dark and Stormy, but Bassett dispenses with the rum and ginger beer. Instead, the light and easy-sipping drink is made with sweet-and-spicy Wasmund’s Single Malt whiskey, ginger and maraschino liqueurs and a brightening bit of lemon.

Much of the drink menu consists of ubiquitous but well-made classics, such as the Vesper and Pisco Punch, and it would be nice to see something different. A local spirit runs throughout: Legend, Devils Backbone and the nearby Port City are among the dozen drafts, and wines from Barboursville and White Hall are sold by the glass.

Filling pub food comes from the kitchen. Chilly days are made warmer by skillets of velvety mac and cheese stuffed with ham and topped with deep-fried pickles (the Cuban) or filled with crab and lobster (the Eastern Shore). Warm pretzel bites, baskets of sweet potato fries and creamy spinach and artichoke dip are better for sharing with the happy hour crew. Watch chalkboards behind the bar for specials, and keep an eye on the hockey game on the flatscreen televisions: Some specials, such as $5 appetizers, are offered only when the Capitals are winning.

-- Fritz Hahn (Friday, Feb. 22, 2013)