Before visiting Gingko Blue on a recent, hot summer’s night, I had probably strolled past the lounge dozens of times, not knowing that it was actually a bar. Looking in through street-side windows at the sleek decor, I wondered whether it was a new high-end salon or perhaps a trendy, big-city oxygen bar. My best guess was something along the lines of a futuristic apothecary.

Thankfully, I found that the latter assessment was, in fact, very close to the truth. Gingko Blue is the second highly creative culinary establishment of Jeff Buerhaus, chef and owner of the well-loved Walter’s restaurant located down the street.

As Walter’s food personality is expressed through it’s Caribbean-meets-Asian menu, the same can be said for Gingko Blue’s aesthetic decor — walking into the lounge is like stepping into a Caribbean blue tropical zone, with a bit of urban chic stirred in for good measure. But the tropics comparisons end there, for once you’re through the doors of Gingko Blue, you’ve arrived in true mixology territory, so prepare yourself to be treated to some tasty and unabashedly creative alchemy.

Gingko Blue’s bartenders know the right drink for the right occasion; to receive the right remedy, all you have to do is describe your symptoms. When I visited for the first time, it was one of those heavy, hot summer nights when it’s easy to believe you’ve somehow been transported to the deep South, and the coastal memories of Maine are replaced with a thick, humid, Southern-style bayou.

After working outside under an unforgiving sun all day, I was hot and thirsty. When evening finally rolled around, all I wanted was a cocktail that would quench my thirst and keep the heat at bay. I described my dilemma to the bartender, and before me appeared the perfect remedy in the form of a Sassy Southern Peach Tea made from Sweet Carolina Peach Vodka, house-infused habanero vodka, peach puree, unsweetened iced tea and Sparkelle Peach ($12).

The spicy kick of habanero, coupled with the fresh, punchy crispness of perfectly ripe peaches, was a delightful antidote to my day. The cocktail combined style and class with a creative twist.

Following in the footsteps of its big-city aesthetic, Gingko Blue’s cocktail menu has some big prices. But while the mixology list falls between $12 and $16 for most cocktails, the beer and wine menu is a steady reminder that you’re still in Portland (drafts between $5 and $7, and by-the-glass wine from $8 to $12).

This is definitely a cocktail bar, but the beer and wine picks are as thoughtfully chosen as their boozy counterparts. The boutique draft selections include representatives from Victory Brewing, Brewery Ommegang, Brooklyn Brewery, Abita Brewing Company and Allagash. The wine list is dynamic and smart as well, traveling the globe and including roses and sparkling wines.

For the most part, visitors to Gingko Blue focus on their cocktails. But detailed attention and creativity are also found on the small plates menu.

White truffled popcorn ($6), duck confit panini bites with dried strawberries, caramelized onions and chevre ($8), or crisped kurobuta pork belly with summer three bean salad and truffled honey crema ($16) are a few of the eclectic options easily paired with a cocktail or glass of wine.

The price point makes it hard to say no, especially when a mouth-watering combination of skewered, chocolate-dipped brownies and cheesecake cubes ($8) is staring you down.

Johanna Sorrell is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.