Essex Opens with a Host of Homemade Ingredients and Craft Cocktails

By: 
A.J. Rathbun
Essex's sparkling citrus cocktail, H.M.S Theodore Roosevelt

The much-anticipated craft cocktail bar Essex has finally opened its doors, and I (and anyone who desires more great cocktail options) couldn’t be happier.

For those who don’t know, Essex sits right next to Ballard’s supreme pizza parlor, Delancey, and is owned by the same folks: Brandon Petit and Molly Wizenberg.

Essex is not an expansive space, but is remarkably well-planned, with barstools cuddled up to the L-shaped bar and a row of marble-topped tables available comfortably across the aisle.

The drinks are crafted with care by a bar staff headed by ex-Licorous tender Gary Abts and delivered by a friendly staff of folks like Niah Bystromwho many remember for his tenure as the waiting list guy at Delancey.

Inside the cocktails, and the cocktail list, you’ll discover a whole realm of captivatingly tasty ingredients made mostly by Petit. The list is lengthy and from what I’ve been told will be ever-changing, but it currently includes things such as rose petal-infused gin, grapefruit bitters, a Delancey fernet, vanilla salt, blood-orange liqueur, pickled chili brine, and many, many others.

This devotion to making ingredients by hand, and then combing them with top spirits, shines in drinks like the H.M.S. Theodore Roosevelt. It mingles gin, the house-made Berg’s Extra Special Organic citrus liqueur, and sparkling wine from the tap, topping it with a wide orange twist. The effervescent layers of orange and citrus bouncing off the gin’s juniper is an ideal combination, not sweet and not overwhelming, a wonderful way to start an evening or dinner. I’d also suggest trying the Berg’s solo: it’s an absolute treasure and something to be savored slow over ice.

So, cocktail lover, head up to North Ballard this weekend. And for those already enthralled with the pizzas of Delancey, rejoice--there’s now a spot within a few feet to get a delectable sipper while waiting, or to enjoy a deluxe digestif after dinner.

Essex. Open Wed.-Sun., 4:30pm-12:00am. 1421 NW 70th St, 206.724.0471; essexbarseattle.com

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