In all but the most wintry months, cocktail hour comes at or just before sunset, when work and light have waned and the mind and palate seek new engagements. Tucked into the west end of the Chase Park Plaza Hotel, Café Eau has the spirits, the space and the company to compress a rapturous season into that dusky hour. Behind a U-shaped, faux-marble bar long enough to accommodate 25 patrons, Bradon and Darrin barely blink at the request of a brandy sidecar or a Camelot; they're fast but detailed, flashing their shakers, pouring long, rim-teasing cosmos and spinning the vermouth for a dry Chopin martini (that rare Polish vodka will run $10; live a little) with painterly precision. In the comfy booths and on the ample patio, the varied clientele ranges from early twenties to late sixties, from doctors to doormen, though they all understand the cocktail's raison d'etre
as aid to genuinely fraternal (and miraculously cell phone-free) conversation and connection.