March 4, 2014
Though it’s hard to believe for all but my mother (who of course always believes), the amazing Seattle magazine is still letting me write a column highlighting a different bar each month. Yeah, I’m lucky! But so are you, because you can read said columns and figure out where you and your pals are going go this weekend to kick up your heels with a dandy drink. Without further palavering then, here are three fine bars to read about:
• Teachers Lounge, Greenwood
• E. Smith Mercantile, Pioneer Square
• Witness, Capitol Hill
–See all of my Seattle magazine articles
January 7, 2014
Hello Seattle cocktail lovers, visitors to Seattle, those who are thinking about a visit to Seattle, and anyone interested in cocktails. Recently, I was lucky enough to work on the lovely Seattle magazine’s end of the year issue, which was amazing and had a huge cocktail-and-bar-and-spirit focus. In case you missed it, or weren’t here to read it, some of the articles are now online for your reading pleasure, including:
• What’s Shaking Now: Drinks of the Moment
• The Superstar Bartender: Erik Carlson
• Best New Bars in Seattle (Plus One Standout in Tacoma)
• Top Shelf Advice: Where the Bartenders Go to Drink
• Entertaining with a Well-Styled Bar Cart
*Read all A.J. Seattle magazine articles
November 19, 2013
Calling all bar lovers from near and far (but especially near). It’s time to round up the latest bars I’ve profiled in my monthly Seattle magazine Bar Hop column. You should read the below, pick which best matches you and your mood today, and go have a drink. But don’t forget – tip your bartender people. They work hard. Bars to hop:
• Anchor’s Down
– See all A.J. Seattle magazine articles
October 29, 2013
Hello dear hearts. There’s time I think for one more quote from the The Compleat Imbiber #5, which we’ve been talking up here on the ol’ Spiked Punch due to it’s greatness and my love of The Compleat Imbiber series. This time, it’s from a piece called Four O’Clock at the Five O’Clock, by a gentleman named Hugh Massingham. It’s mainly a look at American drinking establishments by someone not native to this country, and is built off a stop at a spot in Denver (I wonder if it’s still there) called the Five O’Clock, which didn’t at first seem friendly, but which had, from the below quote, quite a friendly line up for the times.
Suddenly, behind the bar, artfully lit from below, is a blaze of welcoming friends. There is good old Johnnie Walker, as spry as ever. There is that authentic notes of Floreat Etona, Harvey’s sherry. There is historic Beefeater – the snob gin in the United States – and those two dogs yapping away on behalf of Black and White, and soft-tasting ding-dong Bells and kindly tempting Teachers and Cutty Sarks in full sail. There is bicarbonate of soda on draught and tots of Alka Seltzer – the necessities for a hangover morning, familiar sights in an English bathroom, but unknown in English pubs. True, there are a number of bottles that are strangers, and that wink away at you with the offer of novel and perhaps dangerous pleasures. Leroux’s ‘Ginger-Flavoured Brandy’ should surely tickle some secret spot hitherto unexplored by the milder and less adventurous brews of your native land? Then there is gay Dixie Rose, a cross, perhaps, between a Gone-With-The-Wind lady and a gypsy, who is offering for your relaxation in this subdued light a bottle of London dry gin. There is Hill Billy Reserve Whiskey, with its suggestion of some smoky still in a mountain chasm. There is Popcorn Straight Cut Whiskey, made, apparently – and yet can this be true? – from the same fat white salted ears piled up in the dish by your elbow. There is ancient Carstairs (established 1788) with his White Seal Blended. There is good old Thompson – don’t let’s forget his blended bourbon. And there is Vernon and Paddy and a bottle with a playing-card label, showing a King both face upwards and face downwards – delights still not tested after all these weeks of travel.
– Hugh Massingham, Four O’Clock at the Five O’Clock, The Compleat Imbiber #5
October 8, 2013
It’s time to take a tipsy spin again through some fun-tastic recent posts I’ve written for the swell Seattle magazine, covering such topics as local bar and spirit news and the best places in Seattle to eat when you’re having jury duty (for those living here), and drinks to have when you’re tailgating or on a hayride, or when you want to think of summer (since it’s, well, sadly gone now).
• Fall Spirit and Distillery News
• Early Fall Bar News
• Fall Cocktails Perfect for Hayrack Rides
• The Best Places to Eat When You Have Jury Duty
• Four Drinks for a Triumphant Tailgating Experience
• Late Summer Wine Cocktails
• Summer Sipper Recipes
See all A.J. Seattle magazine articles
September 10, 2013
In the recent U.K. Drinks Part I post, I talked about drinking ales at Cornwall pubs, and how lovely it was. But I also spent a little time in a town I like to call Londinius (or Matt Berry likes to call it that, and I imitate him), and had some swell drinks there, too. The swellest though, and what I’m devoting this post too, were at a bar with no name that resides at 69 Colbrooke Row (and, funny enough, the check actually says “The Bar With No Name”). It’s a well-known spot, thanks to the bartending and chemistry of renowned shaker Tony Conigliaro, whose book The Cocktail Lab: Unraveling the Mysteries of Flavor and Aroma in Drink, with Recipes, recently came out. You should buy it, if you’re at all interested in cocktails. And why would you be here if you weren’t? Anywho, I’d always wanted to visit said bar, and was stoked to finally get there. I started with a drink called Terroir, which is a word I can’t pronounce. It’s also a straight spirit they distill at the “lab” up the street – distill from clay, lichen, and flint! Really.
If you see a drink on a menu that’s a distillate of clay, lichen, and flint, how can you get anything else? You can’t. It comes poured at the table straight from the bottle,
and was delicious, slightly sweet, even, with earth tones, as you’d expect, and undercurrents of the air you smell when roaming the hills of France. From there, I went to the Avignon, on the server’s suggestion (more about said server in a minute). It was a combo of Merlot Cognac, Chamomile syrup, and smoked Frankincense. I kid you not! It had an amazing complex smokiness that started with the glass itself – turns out, they smoke the glass, too, in some mad scientist machine at the lab. The drink had layers of smoke and smelled, almost as if you were drinking from a chasuble.
At this point (and after Nat had a few drinks, which I’m not detailing cause really then you’d know the whole menu and not want to visit the bar yourself, which you should. So I’m leaving you with a bit of mystery) I wanted something a bit more umphy, as both the early drinks, while awesome, had sweeter notions. After talking it through with our server (hold on, more on him in a sec), he suggested an old favorite I hadn’t had in years, the Remember the Maine. A perfect idea! It’s like a Manhattan jagged with absinthe more-or-less, and fell right into place. Sadly, I was having too much fun to take a picture.
But that wasn’t it (and no, we weren’t stumbling – we were there a while, and the drinks were well-sized, meaning not like buckets). On the advice of that same server, and actually on the dime of that server, as he bought us this last drink, we had the Prairie Oyster shot. Now, don’t faint (if you know I’m a veg, that is. If you don’t, now you do). There wasn’t a real oyster involved. What was involved was cool as heck, and I’m going to try and describe it, but not do it justice. But here goes. They take tomato water and herbs, and place it into a handmade mold that looks like an oyster, then immerse it in a chemical solution that makes the outer layer form into a “skin” of sorts, and the whole thing look oysterish. Then they place it into a custom-made ceramic “shell” and top it with house pepper vodka and some other goodness. Then you shoot it. When you take a bite (which I suggest) of the tomato “yolk” or “oyster” it bursts with this fantastic rush of vegetal-ness, herb and spice, and pepper. It’s yummy.
So, the drinks were interesting, tasty, and reliable. Which wouldn’t mean nearly as much if the service wasn’t so darn great. Everyone working there was friendly, the place itself is cozy, there was a piano player knocking out 1930s, 40s, and 50s hits, there’s a Bogart-y shadow on the wall going up the bathrooms:
and the whole atmosphere is neat. And our main server was super helpful, so enthusiastic about the drinks, as well as knowledgeable, and very friendly. He greeted every table with a “Hello Ladies and Gents” and kept everyone happy, with the help of the other amiable employees. And, his name was Coco.
He told us he’s opening his own bar in London soon, so when you visit 69 Colbrooke Row, which you must, ask them where Coco’s bar is, so you can visit it, too.