many things in this world are made to complement each other such as turkey and gravy or sick nights at home and zombie tv marathons. and then there are those things that elevate each other, adding two individual values to a sum that is greater than its parts; namely breakups and jeff buckley or shopping and cocktails. with that being said, more retailers should capitalize on the latter and here’s a little parable on why: once there was a young lady who had long pondered the idea of marrying her two loves of fashion and cocktails. as she sipped on her spicy mezcal cocktail of smoke & heat and gazed upon mannequins of lanvin and valentino, she built up the liquid courage to meander next door to the house of shiny things and came out with rosy cheeks and quite the bobble. so where’s the moral of this story? maybe things didn’t work out for nordie’s this time, but just imagine the possibilities if tiffany’s had a bartender?!
with murray’s health waning, i am reminded of his salad days (ok maybe decades) when he had the bartending game on lock. after a brief disappearance leading to a wild goose hunt, my sources pointed me to the pan pacific, where murray was rumoured to be directing the hotel’s revamped cocktail program. however, my hopes were dashed when we arrived with no murray to be found. sure, the cocktail list had his mark on it, but there’s something lackluster about having your bartender read off a recipe as they’re mixing. this just goes to show that one man cannot alone make a great bar and one bar cannot make a better bartender. but with all that said, it’s not bad for a hotel bar; at least there’s more than just a vodka tonic waiting for you.
after a relaxing night of deep-seeded yoga nidra, it was never more clear that drinks were in order. my friend and i hauled our namaste over to naga lounge, located in the back of chantanee thai restaurant in the heartbeat of bellevue. laying claim as the only craft bar on the eastside, naga is one of the final four in the running for cocktail lounge of the year from nightclub & bar magazine. i’m not one to believe blindly though, so i put our bartender to the test. per the usual, i ordered bartender’s choice, and evan whipped up something i would have never thought to enjoy – a concoction of hennessy, house-made ginger soda, and fernet. it was delightful and tasted like fernet ginger candy (though my non-fernet friend didn’t quite agree). i guess the test of a craft bar isn’t that different from religion, whether you’re willing to surrender control and trust with blind faith that everything will turn out just fine.
on the eve of my first day off for the christmas holiday, my friend and i decided to grab a drink at the sister restaurant of one of my capitol hill favourites. newly opened in the heart of bellevue, barrio is physically connected like a siamese twin to partner wine bar, purple cafe. boasting a great happy hour menu and luxuries like mexican coke, the bar also specializes in house-made elixirs including made fresh daily aqua fresca and 21 day strawberry infused tequila. and if all that wasn’t enough, our scandanavian mixologist kaj proved to be wealth of spirited information, and will be a worthy replacement for our MIA eastside bartender @ pearl. added bonus – kaj is a law school graduate, and who couldn’t use a little legal assistance now and again?
there’s some strange allure about a double feature…whether it’s the prospect of losing one’s self in back-to-back gratification or the satisfaction of the 2-for-1 deal. the same can be said of two sittings of fernet in one night. shortly after bidding farewell to my southern comrade at red door, i met up with friends for dinner and a movie on the eastside. post-cinema, we worked like stealth ninjas in an outward circle from the theatre and encountered three epic fails before finally striking treasure at pearl. nestled in the underbelly of lincoln square, this establishment replaced the old trader vic’s (and good riddance to that bastardization of asian fusion). i inquired about why there weren’t more bars that serve my drink and was informed by the wine sommelier that fernet is mostly stocked in high-end steakhouses and wine bars (he failed to include hipster saunas in the list). to make a long story short, the fernet fountain had runneth dry by the end of the night and i was invited back thursday for their next aperitif delivery.
a friend of mine suggested we do a mixer of some sort to cross-pollinate our friends. a few logistical emails later, we arrive at john howie steak in bellevue. located in the new bravern building, this restaurant has a swanky bar with an illuminated marble counter, live piano, and the most extensive drink list ive seen to date in seattle. and hallelujah, they have fernet. but wait, it gets better….they also have MEXICAN COKE! nothing, and i mean NOTHING, beats fernet and pure cane sugar (corn syrup is so 1999). of course, due to the high rent location, my drink ends up costing ~$15, but hey, its all about supply and demand when it comes to the bougie eastside.