Issue

November 2015

Best Bars & Cocktails

Plus Tasty Happy Hours and the 47 Most Influential People in Seattle

Photo: David Bell, Studio 3 Inc.

From this Issue

Aristotle categorized poetry as lyric, elegiac, epic or dramatic, and until recently, our local bar scene could also be divided along similarly strict lines: beer bar, fancy cocktail bar, sports bar, restaurant bar, wine bar.

When Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB) announced its adieu to the Kent Stowell/Maurice Sendak version of The Nutcracker last year, many of us—and by “us” I mean those rare individuals who have lived in Seattle for more than a few years—reacted with a plaintive groan or a whiny, toddler-esque chorus of Noooo!

I’m going out on a tipsy limb, but I think we have the best bartenders in the world. Seattle has an abundance of bartending superheroes who are convivial, courteous (mostly!) and, most important, creators of delicious cocktails. We asked a few of our favorites about what drinks they’re serving up, where they go to unwind and what they’re sipping for inspiration.

I’m going out on a tipsy limb, but I think we have the best bartenders in the world. Seattle has an abundance of bartending superheroes who are convivial, courteous (mostly!) and, most important, creators of delicious cocktails. We asked a few of our favorites about what drinks they’re serving up, where they go to unwind and what they’re sipping for inspiration.

I’m going out on a tipsy limb, but I think we have the best bartenders in the world. Seattle has an abundance of bartending superheroes who are convivial, courteous (mostly!) and, most important, creators of delicious cocktails. We asked a few of our favorites about what drinks they’re serving up, where they go to unwind and what they’re sipping for inspiration.

Applied mathematician Paul Zitarelli had just graduated from business school when the economy crashed in 2009. He had two options: take the six-figure Amazon offer as a senior financial analyst, or start his dream company, an e-newsletter selling boutique Washington wines.

He swears it wasn’t an easy decision.

I’m going out on a tipsy limb, but I think we have the best bartenders in the world. Seattle has an abundance of bartending superheroes who are convivial, courteous (mostly!) and, most important, creators of delicious cocktails. We asked a few of our favorites about what drinks they’re serving up, where they go to unwind and what they’re sipping for inspiration.

I’m going out on a tipsy limb, but I think we have the best bartenders in the world. Seattle has an abundance of bartending superheroes who are convivial, courteous (mostly!) and, most important, creators of delicious cocktails. We asked a few of our favorites about what drinks they’re serving up, where they go to unwind and what they’re sipping for inspiration.

With TV appearances on shows from Ellen to The Nate Berkus Show to Rachael Ray, Tacoma native Kelley Moore has become the lifestyle industry’s go-to gal for tips on how to entertain. “I’ve loved doing this since I was 5 years old,” Moore says.

Erica Strauss is a self-proclaimed “edible plants hoarder.” The Northwest Edible Life blogger (nwedible.com) grows more than 100 fruits and vegetables; raises chickens and ducks; and makes beer, jam, and more in her Edmonds home.

While the core result of our state’s distillery explosion has been the proliferation of a host of delicious locally made spirits and liqueurs, it’s also brought an increase in intriguing event spaces, with a number of well-designed distilleries being available for parties of all kinds, from weddings to corporate shindigs.

One year ago, the Tacoma Art Museum (TAM) debuted its Haub wing, designed to house a newly acquired collection of paintings depicting the American West.

One of the world’s finest dipsographers (cocktail and spirit writers), Paul Clarke has called Seattle home since moving here from New York City in May 1998. Clarke is a longtime blogger; a former writer and assistant editor at Paradigm Communications, publisher of Alaska Airlines’ in-flight magazine; and now editor of Portland-based Imbibe magazine.

Seattle's bar and cocktail scene is evolving in ways we could have only imagined a few years back. Creativity abounds, as bartenders devise concoctions that push the boundaries of what we've always thought of as the classic cocktail. Herewith, the top trends we've noticed this year.

Exceptional cocktails soar on their own. The last thing you want to do is bring them down with an order of flabby fries or hockey-puck-heavy meatballs—even if the food is a bargain. What you really want during a bar or restaurant happy hour is the same tasty, high-quality food that appears on the lunch or dinner menu—just at a fraction of the cost.

The Acropolis is missing, but Ballard’s Plaka Estiatorio still reminds me of Plaka, the historic neighborhood in Athens. Fresh olive tree branches fill vases, and big bins of eggplant and herbs line the open kitchen. Ourania Tziotis and her parents, Katerina and Yiannis, buzz about the dining room with plates of Greek specialties, made from scratch.

In 1943, humble farmers were forced to evacuate their homes in eastern Washington’s Hanford–Pasco–White Bluffs region to make way for a secret military project base that would later bring devastation to Japan during World War II. Roughly 40,000 workers were recruited by the DuPont Corporation and traveled miles to participate in the Manhattan Project—of those, 6,000 were African American.

Forget everything you believe about chain restaurants

No, it’s not another farmers’ market produce variety. Squash—the indoor racquet sport often compared to racquetball—is about to take center stage as our region hosts some of its finest players.

Where: Ashland, Oregon.

In an age when all Instagram users fancy themselves photographers, artist April Brimer has “unfollowed.” Though she studied photography at Seattle Central College in 2007, she found herself drawn to a more 3-D medium about two years ago.

“Digital photography feels fleeting,” she says.“We’re bombarded by constant streams of imagery…it hardly seems to have any weight anymore.”

For Puyallup native Adam Davidson, the architecture of his accessories line, AANDD, started as a hobby. Originally an architecture major in college, Davidson says, “I had a friend interning at a firm who would give me discarded materials from their library. Woodprint wallpaper became a log-shaped bag.”

Pioneer square shoppers looking for the perfect present need simply to wander down the stairs of shoe boutique Clementines. Starting on November 1, the store’s 500-square-foot basement will be transformed into a curated salon of artwork, home furnishings and accessories, both vintage and by emerging Seattle artists.

For Carey Evenson, who shares one car with her husband, Car2Go has been a lifesaver on more than one occasion. But more than a year ago, the car-sharing service, which allows members to rent cars on demand using a per-minute pricing structure, took on an even more important role in her daily life.

The fog practically lifts off the pages of Sea and Smoke: Flavors from the Untamed Pacific Northwest (Running Press, $40) by Blaine Wetzel and Joe Ray. Wetzel is the young chef and James Beard darling at the wildly hyperlocal Willows Inn on Lummi Island.

For those of you who can’t part with your car, a new company launched last fall promises to make getting around a bit easier. ZIRX (zirx.com), an on-demand valet parking service, works via a smartphone app, much like another popular car service.

“Can this thing stand up?” Brandon Mullenberg asked when reviewing architect Mark Haizlip’s initial scheme for his and wife Nikola’s new Queen Anne home. Purchased in 2009, the site’s original Tudor-style house had fallen into disrepair, and its hillside location posed inherent limitations and concerns for the new owners.

It’s a lesson we’re still learning. Under the watchful eye of the U.S. Justice Department, Seattle is still trying to reform a police department accused of racial bias and excessive force. Mayor Ed Murray has installed a new chief, Kathleen O’Toole, who has, in turn, shaken up police leadership.

It’s easy for Cedar Mannan to spell out his chemical love of neon. Introduced to the element in college 20 years ago, Mannan still appreciates the handcrafted process of creating signs with it.

“Neon’s never become a mechanized industry,” he says. “Even the Budweiser sign was bent by hand. Neon pieces are custom in that way.”

Last winter, the mushroom picking around here was better than the skiing. But even when a heavy blanket of snow covers the mountains, it’s still possible to get your fungus fix during the darkest days of the year.

Pioneer Square is welcoming a new tenant with big ideas for its new home. The Center for Architecture & Design—the result of a partnership between AIA Seattle, the Seattle Architecture Foundation, Design in Public and the AIA Washington Council—is scheduled to move into the historic National Building by the end of this year.

Huy Tat was born in Vietnam and raised in Columbia City by his family, owners of Hue Ky Mi Gia (huekymigia.com), a small, cult-favorite chain of noodle houses in Seattle, Kent and Tacoma. It was there that Tat met Allyss Taylor (former sous chef at The Harvest Vine), who came in regularly for a dose of butter garlic fried chicken wings.

Think of Tom Douglas’ newest downtown hot spot as a steakhouse flipped. At The Carlile Room, kitty-corner from The Paramount Theatre, veggies are the attraction and meats come on the side.

When the City of Bothell invited McMenamins to consider the city’s landmark 1930s-era Art Deco Anderson School as a site for its first Seattle-area hotel, the Oregon-based family business, led by brothers Mike and Brian McMenamin, was faced with an exciting, and perhaps slightly daunting, challenge.

Seattle choreographer and performance innovator KT Niehoff is widely known for her dance theater company Lingo Productions, and for cofounding Velocity Dance Center in 1996.

We get that Seattle leads the pack when it comes to talent, technology and smarts. The influx of power players and sheer brainiacs into our town has helped transform it into the soaring metropolis it is today. Of course, with growth and development come big-city problems: traffic, parking, housing…the list goes on. That’s where our lineup of luminaries comes into the picture.