Sitting on the patio at Scenic View with fish tacos and a cocktail in front of you is a summer must here in Bloomington. The family-owned restaurant is just nine miles southeast of downtown, yet it feels farther — not in a bad way, though. It feels like ... a destination. A little escape. Perched on a wooded bluff overlooking Lake Monroe, Scenic View offers views, indeed — the sweeping, tree-top, big-sky, birds-eye sort — and even a bit of the lake itself, hence the name.
It's one of the wonderful establishments in Bloomington that serves Cardinal Spirits in its cocktails.
We chatted with Sadie Clarke, the general manager at Scenic View, about what to expect on its latest cocktail menu, which highlights local and regional producers. In: Cardinal Spirits Tiki Rum. Out: Bacardi.
Cardinal: Let’s talk about the literal view. Can you share any fun facts about the view of Lake Monroe from the restaurant? What kind of boats do you see out there?
Sadie: It does take 45 minutes to an hour to get to that spot (from shore). People think it’s a lot closer, but it’s not. We have a lot of people joke because they never see boats down there.
Cardinal: What’s special about the drinks at Scenic View?
Sadie: We do not normally have mainstream alcohol. We don’t have Grey Goose. Instead of Bacardi, we have Cardinal Spirits Tiki Rum. We always try to get customers to try new things. We make all our syrups here and all our mixes for cocktails.
When I first started working here, we had domestic beers on draft, now we don’t have any domestics on draft — it’s all local. Most people, especially in Bloomington, are more locally conscious.
Cardinal: What drinks are most popular?
Sadie: People love our Bloody Marys. We probably go through hundreds on Sundays. We make the mix here. The base is V8 and then we add our own spices and pickle juice, and then we do seasoned-salt rim and garnish with hand-stuffed blue cheese olives and sweet pickles. Our Bloody Marys are just really hearty. I love Bloody Marys — wherever I go, I try one, and since I’ve worked here, I’ve been disappointed almost every time.
Cardinal: What’s new on your cocktail menu?
Sadie: This is the first season that we’ve really stripped our cocktail list and added more signature, seaside-type drinks. They’re more than your Rum Rummer, Sex on the Beach-type drinks. They’re definitely craftier than that.
And we have five cocktails with Cardinal Spirits.
We carry Cardinal Spirits Tiki Rum, Bramble and Flora. For one of the drinks, we have them all together with fruit juices, and now that’s our Cardinal Punch. People love that.
I love Moscow Mules. So we made our version of one called the Blackberry Hibiscus Limeade with the Bramble — it’s awesome.
Cardinal: Do you have a favorite Cardinal Spirits product?
Sadie: You know, I don’t normally drink flavored vodka, but I do love Bramble (a vodka made with black raspberries). It’s not overly sweet or floral, and it’s great in a Moscow Mule with fresh lime juice and ginger beer.
Cardinal: On a nice weekend day, Scenic View is packed and there’s usually a decent wait. Any insider tips for avoiding a wait?
Sadie: We take reservations for parties of 8 or more, inside or in our beer garden. The front patio is always first come, first serve. I always say come in between 3-5pm, however, on Saturdays and Sundays when it’s nice, people know that now … so even then, it’s been busy.