Lychee Cosmo

Red Moon, 1500 St. Charles Street, 314-436-9700

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And then there's Red Moon, the newest addition to the downtown dining and drinking landscape. It is a room on fire, with awesome glowing red-and-orange chandelier sculptures, crimson booths and a hot, handsome staff delivering the restaurant's French-accented Asian plates. Patrons enter through a revolving door, for Lord's sake. Talk about fancy.

At Red Moon, house and electronica thumps on the sound system. The kitchen staff, onstage behind half-walls, weaves as a unit, frying, whisking and chopping, while across the way a bartender moves from end to end, tending to servers and to patrons on barstools. This is the kind of restaurant every good downtown deserves, and St. Louis now has two such destination rooms: East downtown is represented by An American Place, and now, to the west, is Red Moon.

On the floor, executive chef Marc Felix mingles, welcoming patrons, a broad smile on his face.

"You not zee what you like on zee menu, we go back in za keetchen and we make it for you. Mexican food? OK. Whatever you like." He then peruses our menu and suggests some good combinations. We obey -- crab bisque, crab cakes, salads, entrées -- and get back to enjoying tonight's heart's desire: the lychee cosmo, an honest, well-balanced cocktail that dances in that mystical flavor-land separating sweet and sour.

A lychee looks kind of like an albino plum, and it tastes like one too, with a distinct, crisp sourness that Red Moon cuts with a touch of triple sec and tarts again with a splash of cranberry juice. The centerpiece, says bartender Meggan Christie, is the vodka. Chef Felix uses a lot of lychees on the menu, so they're never in want. The lychees are soaked in smooth Svedka vodka, a premier brand made by a Swedish booze concern. (Red Moon infuses other vodkas with Thai chiles, which work well in a bloody mary or a simple martini, says Christie; the restaurant's ginger-infused vodka works wonders with a splash of cranberry.)

The combination is poured into Red Moon's simple-yet-sophisticated cone-shape cocktail glass, perfectly weighted on the bottom to feel sturdy and substantive in your hand. As if that's not enough, the drink is augmented with a genuine lychee, sword-skewered into the drink. What a deal. A good drink in a good glass. Red Moon rocks.

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