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?
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.
i guess its kinda weird to write about a bar that no longer exists, but for the sake of posthumous posterity, i’ll deliver a review fit for eulogy. i will say this – the other multitudes of businesses that have inhabited the corner of pine and belmont have never been long-lived…it’s where businesses are born to die. established as an “asian-fusion tap & eatery”, kiki had good intention, with (very) small plates like spring rolls, calamari, and tuna poke. For those with heartier appetites, servings of pork belly rice and vietnamese curry warm hungry bellies. what i remember most was the cocktails, but sadly, they were mind-numbingly sweet. with all that said, kiki will be sorely missed for the attentive staff and its will to survive against all odds. rather than feel the loss, this is a celebration of their life, so let’s have a kiki.
let me start out by saying that this is a place i wanted to love. located in the alley behind those bike polo courts in cal anderson, cure boasts signage reminiscent of a european train station – “food and drinks found here”. with an open heart and an empty stomach, we hunkered down for an evening of charcuterie et boissons. with so many options on their specialized menu, i was left unable to decide on what to order; this could be looked upon as a positive, but in my case, indicates a lack of distinction. and while the journey was the destination was somewhat sombre and left me with a one-way ticket home.
lately, ive seen an increased manifestation of steampunk culture from the skits of portlandia to the streets of seattle. what’s steampunk, you ask? think victorian aesthetic meets the city of lost children. with that said, i’m not exactly sure why grim’s claims to be steampunk-inspired. i’d label the decor more reclaimed industrial, with pb elemental‘s signature touches of urban in-fill. the drink menu is adequate, featuring standards like the moscow mule, as well as some intermediate-level cocktails such a peruvian sour and my go-to cocktail, the blood and sand. everything’s served in a mason jar, and while very 1858, gets in the way of a the perfect sip. this does however beg the question, “what’s the chosen vessel of steampunks?”
a while back, i received a picture message of a menu excerpt titled “$5 FERNET MONDAYS”. what is this wonderous thing, you ask? simply put, it’s tommy gun’s answer to your manic monday: a shot of fernet branca and a pbr tall boy for $5. upon entering, you cant help but notice the establishment’s namesake posted above the backroom’s doorway– and while a few months ago the gun motif might have felt more like a design decision, the recent gun frenzy perhaps indicates that they were just ahead of their time. apart from decor, i was surprised to find that the bar was rather chill on multiple occasions despite its central location, making it a great option for a tête-à-tête or tethered work-night.
oh, and p.s. they have WHISKEY WEDNESDAYS too…but i’ll save that for another day.
the opening of canon was perhaps the most heralded cocktail event of 2011. seattle icon (and fellow canadian) jaimie boudreaux is the kevin bacon of seattle bartenders; he’s worked his way through practically every seattle bar worth two shakes, from vessel to knee-high and tini bigs. and in all that spare time, he’s even managed to take to the small screen with a comprehensive series of how-to’s for the aspiring cocktailer. re-entering the scene as an entrepreneur, this optimus prime has achieved a transformers superhero assemblage, with the likes of jared, nathan, and murray manning the bar. and while on the topic of “bar”, one of the most impressive features of this venue is the use of angostura bitters to stain the wood surfaces. however, all that glitters is not gold for the service was slow and the drinks, though tasty, were quite petite for the price tag. and while i wish i felt that it was “more than meets the eye“, i’m left more so with the sentiment that “you failed me, yet again, starscream.”
everyone that knows me knows that my favourite nosh spot in seatown is spinasse, home of the best homemade pasta you can get after the sun goes down (the sun’s still up, you say? then head directly to mike easton’s il corvo). however, what spinasse lacks in its cocktail menu, siamese sister venture artusi more than makes up for next door. perusing the artusi menu, it’s hard to miss the heavy-handed application of amaros throughout their speciality cocktail list (not that there’s anything wrong with that). what did surprise me, though, was the caliber of dishes there as well. while beets and tuna may sound like an odd pair, their baby beets with salsa tonnata was set on repeat at our table, and the promise of tripe with bone marrow and local black truffles set my hopes ablaze. now maybe i’ve been spoiled little girl, but after great marrow experiences at st. john and holeman & finch, what showed up at artusi was less than upbeat, and most dismaying- it was sans bone. i guess we can’t be good at everything, can we??
here’s the thing about fancy craft cocktail bartenders: when asked their favourite drink/watering hole, more often than not their reply involves some dive-as-fuck bar and a shot of whiskey with a beer back. the same can be said of chefs and their favourite food; essentially it boils down to the fact that when you do something all day, the last thing you want when you punch out is something complicated. simplicity and function win almost every time, and this is how i came upon the summit public house. by recommendation of david nelson, he warned me multiple times that his preference was not my “type of place” but like a small child told not to do something, i immediately added it to the cocktail thursday list. located on the same block as sun liquor, the summit public house is everything that my typical “type of place” isn’t: bartenders in t-shirts, [insert sport here] on the tele, that distinct smell of bleach cleanser and wet wood so customary of dives…this is not a place where you’d order a drink with any more than two ingredients. but where david went wrong is this: i refuse to be boxed into a single paradigm. and while i may not be defying gravity, i do find that everything isn’t black and white nor either or; take the summit’s power outlet situation for example. while it may be on the ceiling and unpractical for modern applications, a fellow patron was able to make it work and charge her dangling iphone while watching stage 12 of le tour de france. austerity can indeed lend itself to multiplicity, so maybe there’s hope for me and my “type of place” after all.