The Mode Lounge


Combining the Art and Science of Craft Cocktail Creation 

By Chelsea Chambers  Photos Kimberlee Miller

As the rest of Boise meanders by, the world slows underneath the dimly-lit, glittering light fixtures and relaxed ambiance of The Mode Lounge. A true traditional cocktail bar, founded by Russel Crawforth and Brian Livesay, in January 2014; the lounge now inhabits the historic Mode building on the corner of 8th and Main. The building has been a long-time place for meeting and celebration since its completion in 1895. Crawforth saw the opportunity to continue its incredible legacy with the opening of The Mode.

Earthy tones contrast against stylish neon art décor and a beautiful display of elegant wines, spirits, and house-made bitters and tinctures. Veteran bar manager, Sara Behunin, has found a deep-rooted sense of purpose in the creation of delicious craft cocktails and sharing her knowledge with the Mode’s many guests.

“Our employees have a sense of passion and creativity for the craft. It’s a good balance of fun and dedication,” explains Sara. She worked her way up from cocktail server to manager in less than two years and looks forward to her continued future with Mode.

“We cater to a huge spectrum of clientele,” she motions to the suit-and-tie-doting group in the corner as they laugh and chat about this year’s projections and the fiscal year. The bar top is lined with groups of friends and young couples, nearly every one of them trying a new drink, hand-crafted by Sara. One of their most popular menu options is called The Inside Job. “I spend time talking with the guest, trying to gauge what flavors they like, then I create something just for them.”

I watched her expertly mix drinks, shaking them just so, pouring over hand-chiseled ice, and garnishing the rims with fresh thyme and rosemary. Each drink is made lovingly and uniquely, designed for the guest’s individual palette. I explained to her that I was looking for something floral and she recommended Mind the Gap—a beautiful, pink cocktail made with gin, vodka, Lillet Blanc, St. Germaine, and a dash of chamomile tincture. Both aromatic and delicious, she nailed just what I was looking for, and as I surveyed the room, it would appear that she single-handedly did the same for each person in the lounge.


“We try to stay really involved in the community,” she goes on to say. They have featured local artists that often do live painting event and they source local as often as possible. This year they will be assisting with Storyfort and the artist lounge at Treefort.

With such a relaxing and impressive atmosphere, it’s no wonder The Mode Lounge has seen such success. From the classics (Old Fashioned, Martinis, various Mules) to their own original creations like the Devil’s Advocate (Seven Devils Idaho Bourbon, Cardamaro, Benedictine, Allspice Dram, and candied orange peel) and the delicious 8th Street Sour (Amaretto, Wathen’s Bourbon, lemon, egg white, whiskey barrel bitters, and maraska cherry), there is something for every palate.

The Mode Lounge opens at 4 pm Monday through Saturday and is open Sunday for private events and parties. Be sure to check out their daily happy hour from 4-7!