My barhopping excursions took me to a secret scotch society tasting, a marathon sampling of Singapore Slings off Bourbon Street and ended, as it does every week, at Zig Zag Café. As noted earlier with the revamped AYCE blog, I’ll use this forum to post tidbits and random thoughts about new bars, cocktails and other happenings in our drinking scene.
We’ll start with the acclaimed Zig Zag Café, which launched a new cocktail menu for the first time in 18 months.
It’s a bigger menu, covering a broader range of spirits. There’s vodka drinks to cater to the mainstream palate but still plenty of dry and bitter, stir drinks to please the cocktail enthusiasts. One drink I love already: A mescal drink, “Naked and Famous,” with yellow Chartreuse, aperol and lime juice that originated at the acclaimed new cocktail bar Pouring Ribbons in the East Village.
Best beer I had in July: North Coast PranQster at the Whisky Bar in Belltown, a Belgian style Golden Ale with hints of cloves and ripe banana and a clean finish.
Most refreshing drink I had in July: Stiegl Raddler beer at Smith on Capitol Hill. A perfect summer beer - low in alcohol and tastes like grapefruit soda, like a shandy.
Beer I’m most looking forward to in August: ”Stone Farking Wheaton wOOtstout”, a rare beer that Rocco’s in Belltown somehow managed to get a keg of. It’s described as “Brewed with rye, wheat malt and pecans and partially aged in bourbon whiskey barrels.”
Happy hour of the week: The new Teachers Lounge in Greenwood, $6 happy hour cocktails, easily one of the best deals in Seattle now.
Menus that caught my eye: Vito’s features a $3 martini throughout August, as part of its 60th Anniversary celebration. The new outpost of Skillet Diner, scheduled to open on August 12 in Ballard, will have a bigger bar program, with more $9-$10 drinks. On Capitol Hill, The Baitshop has a new $4-$5 happy hour cocktail menu, though I would rather pay $7 for the slushy painkiller cocktail. The Garage rolled out a new bar menu, trying to focus more on gastropub fare with cured meats, sausages and pickled snacks. The DeLuxe Bar & Grill features a $1.99 burger through August 15. At Ba Bar, the new drink menu focuses more on Asian and exotic fruit flavors like lychee. Shanik, the much talked about restaurant from folks behind Vij’s, started doing a $5 happy hour this week ( Monday-Friday 4-5:30 p.m.) as well as rolling out a cocktail menu.
Did you know? We have one of the nation’s largest memberships in The Scotch Malt Whiskey Society. This exclusive club offers rare whiskey tastings to its members around the world. In the United States, there are 245 active members from the Seattle area, second only to California (362 members.) The society’s ambassador Georgie Bell of Edinburg visits Seattle at least twice a year to lead scotch tastings. I caught up with her recently at El Gaucho in Belltown. She can barhop with the best of them. Her thoughts below:
“I like Liberty. I just got into rye and those guys sat me down and took me through eight different ryes…It was early Saturday. I was tired. I didn’t want something heavy. I went to Zig Zag, met barman Erik Hakkinen. I asked him “Can I have something not too strong? He made me a vermouth-heavy cocktail with bitters. It was sweet. It was perfect…Canon is such a stunning bar. You can just sit at the bar and that’s your entertainment. Look at the walls of bottles and the bar equipment. It’s one of those beautiful bars like Bramble in Edinburgh and Bulletin Place in Sydney….I had lunch at Brouswer Café. They have an incredible beer selection. At Tavern Law, at the speakeasy upstairs, I had a Chartreuse-heavy scotch drink that was delicious…And at The Walrus and the Carpenter, oysters sprinkled with Arbeg 10, a must! ”
On the move: Charles Veitch, former barman of NoMAD Hotel bar in NY City, (Most impressive cocktail bar I visited this year) is back in Seattle and running the new bar program at The Old Sage on Capitol Hill. It’s a scotch bar, though cocktails won’t be the emphasis so as not to compete with Tavern Law next door. Both joints are owned by Dana Tough and Brian McCracken…Talented bar man Ricky Agustin of Ba Bar is leaving for New York City to bartend at the acclaimed Pegu Club in New York City, which is owned by the estimable Audrey Saunders. (Saunders is the cocktail queen that’s partly responsible for the cocktail renaissance nationwide. By the way, she lives in the Seattle area part time now.) Underrated bartender Andy McClellan, formerly of Golden Beetle in Ballard, now heads the bar program at the new Le Zinc on Capitol Hill, where he features an absinthe-centric cocktail menu.
Recipes to try: Last month, at the Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, I got to judge cocktails along with Charles Joly, of the James Beard Award winning bar, The Aviary in Chicago. The goal was to help pick some of the world’s best spins on the classic Singapore Sling.
Two cocktails stood out for me, and I included the recipes below for the home mixologists to try.
Highland Sling by Michael Flannery from New York City
1 oz Cherry Heering
1 oz Siete Leguas Blanco tequila
3/4 oz fresh pineapple juice
3/4 oz fresh tangerine juice
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz Benedictine
1 bar spoon Green Chartreuse
2 dashes Dale DeGroff Pimento bitters
Rye Sling Star by Ben Manchester from England
25ml Rye Whiskey (I used Rittenhouse 100 Proof)
20ml Cherry Heering
10ml Applejack (Lairds)
5ml Green Chartreuse
Dash Cherry Bitters (Fee Brothers)
75ml Apple Juice
10ml Lemon Juice
These two finalists, along with three others, will compete in the Peter F. Heering Sling Award in Berlin Oct. 8 and 9.