You’ll have to traverse an adventurous route amid South Lake Union traffic and construction, parking and valets, and then make a push through Daniel’s Broiler restaurant, the regular Daniel’s bar, and glass doors between glass shelves lined with bottles of fine spirits, to reach Prime 809 (809 Fairview Place N; 206.621.8262; schwartzbros.com).
But the extra effort is worth the destination: an intimate lounge with a well-stocked whiskey selection and classic cocktails.
The Prime 809 menu is also different than that of Daniel’s other bar (although both share the same happy hour, from 4 to 6:30 p.m., with $2 off cocktails). Prime 809’s cocktail list has a more classic bent, featuring a curated selection of drinks from the early part of the last century, such as the Cameron’s Kick. A treasure unearthed from The Savoy Cocktail Book (1930), this powerful drink boasts both Scotch and Bushmills Irish whiskey, along with orgeat (an almond syrup with hints of rose water or orange water) and lemon ($13). There are a few modern selections inspired by the era, too, such as the Kentucky River, created by
Daniel’s spirits director, Brad Miller. It mingles bourbon with mint, orgeat, pineapple and maple syrup ($14).
Miller is also responsible for picking the impressive list—more than 90—of bourbons, whiskeys and ryes. You’ll discover local faves, such as Bainbridge Battle Point whiskey ($18), alongside splurge-worthy out-of-towners, Booker’s 25th Anniversary bourbon ($40), for one, and rarities such as the delightfully named Old Blowhard bourbon ($50), which has a limited number of bottles in circulation. A great way to test a few at once is to order a bourbon flight ($18 for three 1-ounce pours; Scotch and tequila flights also available). A recent flight featured Masterson rye, Elijah Craig 12-year bourbon and Bernheim wheat whiskey.
There’s also a dandy Scotch selection—more than 45 choices—including fun blends such as Monkey Shoulder ($10) and exquisite tipples such as the Balvenie PortWood ($48). Aged 21 years, it’s a resplendent drink with hints of honey, raisin, peach and smoke. As if that wasn’t enough to tempt fine-spirit devotees, there’s a high-quality selection of cognacs and Champagnes.
Even though Prime 809’s focus is on the drinks, you can also order classic Daniel’s appetizers and specials.
Opened after the success of the Prime 21 bar at Daniel’s in Bellevue, this spot is smaller, with an elegant but amiable ambiance and a helpful, knowledgeable staff. There are two big TVs broadcasting sports, which bring the cuddle-factor down a notch, but it’s a good spot for Seahawks lovers on a date, or for taking visiting business colleagues out after a day of meetings. If you end up being the only group in the bar, it’s a little like being in your own home—if your home has a tastefully chic vibe and an incredible spirit selection.