it wasn’t until recently, while watching a seahawks game with friends, that i learned that yellow line in a football game wasn’t a real line after all. fast forward a couple years when my bbf (read: best boy-friend) secured tickets to the hawks/49-ers game. first thing first, i proceeded to procure the proper game attire; in this case, the evrgrn crash sack. if a sleeping bag and a snuggie had a baby, well this is it. needless to say, the hawks won (i’m fairly certain my sleeping bag coat had everything to do with it), and the next order of business was to find a suitable venue to keep us entertained while we escaped gridlock of post-game traffic. after a stint of indecisiveness, we stumbled upon then 12 day-old (coincidence??) jarrbar. built for the casual barfly and industry folk alike, it features tins of tapas and a curated cocktail list (jarrbar drinks!) the norteño, with smokey mezcal and jalapeño, was the perfect sipper to keep me cozy. and let’s face it, nothing raises the temperature like a long leg stretched out on the bar…iberian that is. the view behind the bar wasn’t too shabby either, especially in my crash sack.
i have a basic rule: try everything twice. however, twice sometimes just isn’t enough, especially when it comes to matters of the heart. i’ve always been quick to judge, often opting for sparkle (read: shiny boy toy) over box turtle (the safe, stable bet) but upon urging from a friend, i opted to try again. drinks topped our agenda at herb & bitter, and the waiter described something like a blood & sand, with the cherry heering swapped out for a foam of éphémère cherry. whaaaa? so here’s the buzzkill…they don’t carry éphémère cherry anymore. womp womp. there were however promises made and the gauntlet was thrown: the cocktail would be crafted if i produced the prize ingredient. challenge accepted…next date denied.
not since the sad departure of naga has seattle experienced such a strong showing of tiki drinks. how appropriate, as the go-to liquor for said libations is rum (or should i say rhum), and there’s plenty of it at rumba (60+!) i have to admit, it wasn’t an affinity for cocktail umbrellas that initially drew me here, but rather a tip-off from none other than yelp seattle’s community manager. you see, i’m part and parcel to publicans on my payroll, and i’ll follow david nelson‘s blood and sands to the end of the earth. however, start playing the name-your-own-cocktail game, and david might just start regaling stories of patrons past ordering cockeyed concoctions such as matt damon’s tears. how do you like them apples?
fresh off a trip from the old empire, it was time to reintroduce myself to seattle and single-dom, a double ‘s’ threat as frightening as the schutzstaffel. equipped with the latest in euro-hosiery, i crashed some friends’ oyster eats and soon ended up in one of said friend’s newly relocated neighbourhood of greenwood. a microcosm much like west seattle or georgetown where us ausländers (read: eastsiders) dont hear much about, greenwood offers up its own local hangouts like the yard cafe – part mexican, part dive, very much frat-boy meets brunch bar. i can’t remember what caused me to ask, but upon inquiring about the origin of their bitters, the response was “the bitters factory”. at first taken aback, i realized i had it coming…i mean, i’m in a place that smells like industrial cleaner and tortas. valuable lesson of the night? don’t ask questions when the answer won’t change the outcome.
my counselor tells me that having traditions is important; not necessarily the “traditional” ones like christmas and cotillions, but any celebration that you can count on year over year. borne from white elephants and gifts excavated from dingy closets, my tradition evolved into what is now affectionately know today as the “booze exchange”. while the friends may have changed, the rules always stay the same: show up, eat brunch, and bring a wrapped gift of alcoholic content. this year’s venue: the stunningly scenic westward on northlake. both beautiful on the inside and out, this “water-themed” restaurant features a boat dock, fire pit for rent, bar dioramas (!), and the adjoining little gull grocery store/oyster bar– all elements perfect for creating new traditions.
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?!
once upon a time, there was a girl that wanted to eat as many michelin stars as she could in one trip. she flew across the atlantic ocean, and landed in the northern coast of basque country, where she dined on banksy masterpieces, stray x’s, and a most magical meal in the spanish countryside. one thing that she missed trying on that trip was the local drink kalimotxo, equal parts of red wine and cola. sounds simple enough you might say, but one should never presume. thus started the search for a local purveyor: enter pintxo. featuring castillian tapas and a popular happy hour, they also are the proud owners of a partially covered backyard patio reminiscent of the bars of williamsburg. and the kalimotxo you ask? well yeah, it’s really is as simple as it sounds, but never forget that complexity is simple. simplicity is hard.
let’s face it: despite your best attempts to plan, sometimes life points it’s finger at you and laughs. and every once in a while, that unexpected twist turns out for the best. such was the circumstances that brought me to bar cotto, ethan stowell‘s newest seattle venture. situated on the cusp of central district and capitol hill, this charcuterie-focused bar was everything that cure wasn’t; a curated menu, fabulous cocktails, and bedside manner behind the bar. and better yet? my first brush with lambrusco frizzante, a sparkling red wine with a drinkability profile fit for day-drinking on a southern veranda, or spending a saturday night parked in front of a trashy reality tv marathon. popular in the 70’s, whats old is new, and lambrusco is making a comeback in a big way on wine lists throughout the city. and while the seattle summer is fading away, move over rosé; labrusco is here to stay.
believe it or not, it only took me a year and a half to finally catch up on my backlogged blog…that in itself deserves a drink. and what better note to end/begin on than new year’s eve at the pink door. tucked away in post alley, this cabaret-meets-cave is famous for their signature lasagna– something i refuse to eat anywhere else, and i’m fairly sure it’s made of angels. on saturdays, my favourite glamazon sydney devereaux produces a heck of a burlesque production in the back bar, where cocktail concoctions abound. this all reinforces the fact that there are few things more satisfying about celebrating a new year in the first world than seeing other people work hard while you’re kicking back with a belly full of angels and a drink in hand.
in the words of mississippi rockabilly legend lee denson (aka jesse james) who purportedly taught elvis how to play guitar, the south’s gonna rise again. growing up asian in the south, i always felt out-of-place. people always assumed i was related to/ the same person as that other “oriental” kid in school. when my chance finally came, i fled to the pacific northwest, officially for college, unofficially, to stalk my favourite band. upon arrival, i experienced the exact opposite of what i expected, “why are there so many asian people here??” during my first years here, friends from back home pointed out my new-found valley girl accent (aka loss of a southern twang), but as i have thrived here the last decade, i’ve grown nostalgic over southern ways and have come to miss its food and hospitality. with the recent elevation of chefs such as sean brock and linton hopkins in the culinary arena, what was once poor man’s fare has been made shiny and vogue. restaurants across the country are jumping on the bandwagon of grits and gravy gravitas, with the sexton leading the charge for the ballard troops. however, a southern food establishment in the northwest is much like a chinese girl raised in the south, a juxtaposition of something half way between here and there. sure the cocktails are served in mason jars, but jalapeno vodka is less southern and more south of the border. and yes, all the usual suspects are on the menu: fried chicken, hush puppies, and more, but i seriously doubt that any of it had lard, a staple in any southern grocery store. so while a valiant war was fought by the sexton, i’ll march on for something that feels more like home.