Monday, May 31, 2010

Bar #2: Still Liquor - Capitol Hill

Capitol Hill, the neighborhood I call home, has a crapload of bars but I only drink at a few. Thanks to EBIS, that's all going to change. My lady Francesca and I decided to start with a bar near Melrose Market called Still Liquor.

Still follows the blueprint of a lot of new bars in hip, gentrified areas: the interior is modern with a lot of wood and stone and pipes running along the ceiling. There are seats at the bar and booths along the outside of the room. Some say the interior reminds them of a sauna or Russian bathhouse. We speculated that Still may become kind of a meat market when it gets crowded, but it could just be a place where couples and small groups stop in for a drink and conversation.

The drinks are pretty standard--a small fancy cocktail menu, top shelf liquor, wine, two taps (Stella Artois and Big Al IPA) and 15 bottled beers (a bunch of macros plus Anchor Steam, Full Sail Session and Deschutes Black Butte Porter). I stepped out of my comfort zone and ordered a Dragon's Toe cocktail, made with Maker's Mark, muddled cucumber and fresh ginger. It was pretty tasty and a relative bargain at $7 (most of the cocktails ran $9-12). For my second drink, I had a Session Black, which you can get for the same price as a Bud. From what we could gather, Still Liquor doesn't serve food.

We were there on a Saturday at 8 pm and things were still pretty slow. The drinkers were more on the yuppie side than the usual dissheveled Capitol Hill hipsters. Sadly, the most exciting moment of the evening was when I reached to taste Francesca's drink as she reached for mine and her martini went splashing all over the bar. And I wasn't even drunk. The bartender was cool about it and gave her a new drink without charge.

I can't see coming back to Still on my own because I didn't feel completely comfortable there, but it's not a bad place to take someone for a couple drinks. My search for a new Capitol Hill go-to spot continues....

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Bar #1: The White Horse Trading Company - Downtown

I've heard good things about The White Horse, so I've been wanting to visit it for awhile, but don't do a lot of drinking in the touristy hell of Pike Place Market. This project was the perfect excuse to get there.

I liked the place from the moment I walked in. It's small, dark, cozy and feels more like a bookshop or some Englishman's parlor than a bar. There's a lot of English memorabilia on the walls, comfortable chairs and couches and a few seats at the bar.

There's a very limited drink selection--three Samuel Smith bottled beers, a cask ale, a couple wines, an English mead and a Pimm's Cup cocktail. I'd never had a Pimm's before, so I started with that. Made with brandy-based Pimm's #3, red wine, bitters and lemon, it was interesting but too sweet to be something I'd drink often. I also had a cask ale, which Joe, the owner/bartender, said was a Sam Smith brown ale aged in a wooden cask for two years.

I visited The White Horse with seven other people. Three weren't drinking and looked uncomfortable. I asked my friend what their problem was and he said that they're usually big drinkers, but they only drink stuff like Bud Light. They didn't know what to do with the limited drink menu. Sorry, people... professional drinkers find something to drink at any bar.

One cool thing about The White Horse that I hadn't seen--if you wanna leave your drink to have a smoke or hit the head, they have double-sided wooden blocks for you to display drinkside that say "Out Smoking" or "In the W/C." Speaking of the bathroom, the one at White Horse is odd. It's a semi-open space with a swinging door that latches. People can't actually see you doing your business, but it's pretty exposed. You wouldn't want to drop a deuce here unless you were desperate.

Overall, this is a laid-back place to grab a few drinks. Joe can be a little standoffish but is mostly friendly and engaging. He used to own the Black Horse in SF (also a great bar and one of the smallest I've ever seen). But, as much as I liked it, because of the location I'll probably only drink at The White Horse again if I'm in the area or taking a first-timer.

Friday, May 28, 2010


For the past couple years, I've blogged about beer as The Beer Retard. My output has been sporadic at best and it's been a constant struggle to find interesting things to write about. I love beer, but writing about it sometimes feels like work. I now realize that I'd much rather write about the experiences I have drinking at bars. I've never found a way to work this into beer writing, but what if I make it my goal to drink at every bar in Seattle?

This project has only one guideline. All the bars must be within the Seattle city limits and must be actual bars in their own right, not sectioned off areas in a restaurant. Other than that, any place is fair game.

To give credit where it's due, I wouldn't be doing this if a friend didn't introduce me to The San Francisco Bar Experiment. Heather may not be the first to run with the idea in her city--that honor goes to the two guys who run Every Bar in SF--but I like what she's doing with it. There's also a group doing Every Bar in DC and a couple friends have started up Sacramento Bar Snapshots.

I'm not even the first to attempt something similar in Seattle. In 2002, a couple guys started a site called 570 Bars after reading in the Stranger that the city had that number of places that served spirits. They visited all 570 spots in a year. Sadly, the site no longer exists. I'm thinking that, eight years later, the number's going to be a hell of a lot higher for me. Let's see how much damage my friends and I can do....