Friday, October 8, 2010

Bar #18: Liberty - Capitol Hill

[Geoff Kaiser has given me the keys to Seattle Beer News for a few weeks, so I’ll be cross-posting some of my bar reviews over there. Since the focus at SBN is beer, I’ll be scrutinizing each bar’s beer selection more closely than I do here.]

A couple days ago, I paid my first visit to Liberty on 15th Avenue in Capitol Hill. I’ve lived close by for the last five years and I’ve never set foot inside until now. The reasons? First, Liberty is known for its cocktails and I’m primarily a beer drinker. But the main reason is that every time I walk by, the place is crowded with the kind of people who… well, let’s just say they don’t seem like my kind of people.

It was a good decision to go to Liberty during happy hour early in the week. It wasn’t packed and my special lady friend Francesca and I were able to snag two seats at the end of the bar. It took several minutes for me to page through the thick drink menu, which lists a crapload of cocktails by spirit (whiskey, vodka, gin, tequila), as well as house infusions (some in cool skull jars on the bar) and flights where you get four half-ounce pours of different liquors. I decided on the Holy Grail, a house-created cocktail with Maker’s Mark 46, Peychaud’s bitters and lemon verbena. It was tasty. My lady had a well gin and tonic and the gin was higher quality than most well gins.

After the cocktail, I turned my attention to the beer selection and found it left something to be desired. They have seven taps, five of which–Guinness, Stella Artois, Hoegaarden, Manny’s Pale Ale and PBR–can be found at almost any Seattle bar. The other two were the 3 Skulls IPA and Odin’s Gift Ruby Ale. I’ll give Liberty points for offering local beers, but feel like they could be a bit more adventurous with their choices. The bottle list was similar, with a few things I’d drink, but nothing out of the ordinary. I ended up having a couple pints of Manny’s and also sampled a few bourbons. For food, Liberty has fresh sushi, and after watching the sushi guy preparing orders, we couldn’t resist trying some. It was good, but not enough to make it a sushi destination for me.

Overall, I liked Liberty more than I thought I would. If you’re into inventive cocktails or want to sample and learn about high-quality liquor, it’s a place worth seeking out. Unfortunately, if it’s good beer you’re after, you should probably go down the block to Hopvine or Smith.

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