There are currently four Li'l Woody’s in the Seattle area, with the first opening in 2011 on Capitol Hill and other outposts in Ballard, White Center, and South Lake Union. The independent small chain is celebrated for its NW grass-fed beef burgers, which have crowned a number of best-of lists, including the Huffington Post’s Most Audacious Burger list, which featured the Trotter burger (caramelized onions, apple, chopped Hills bacon and horseradish sauce).
While Li’l Woody’s has been serving beer and wine for some time, it was only recently – May 31, to be exact – that Li’l Woody’s in South Lake Union started serving up cocktails and booze-y drinks. And while I’ll never frown on a beer and a burger, I’m all for a wider array of drink options, and feel that their choices are fun and match the Li’l Woody’s vibe perfectly.
The drink menu, at first glance, seems fairly small, with six choices. But don’t be deceived. One of the six, for example, is Boozy Milkshakes. There isn’t just one, or two, to pick from, however. You can match any milkshake they serve with any kind of spirit – it’s like a choose-your-own boozy milkshake adventure, the bartender said. Not sure where to start? Just ask the helpful staff, whose suggestions ranged from a Mint Chocolate Chip shake with bourbon (an ice-cream paean to the Mint Julep) to a lush combination of elderflower liqueur St. Germain and a Strawberry shake.
It’s the same with the mules – you can have a classic Moscow Mule, or sub a different spirit in for vodka, changing your ride to a Kentucky Mule with bourbon, a London Mule with gin, and on down the line. Kombucha cocktails follow this mix-and-matching, too, and use Bellingham’s Kombucha Town flavors like blueberry, jasmine, and ginger.
Even though making a choice is entertaining, don’t skip the San Pellegrino Paloma, which requires no further decision-making. Tangy, refreshing, citrus-y, it brings lime, San Pellegrino grapefruit, Sauza silver tequila, and local Scrappy’s grapefruit bitters all together in a summertime treat.
The latter – and really, all of the above – are ideal sipped out on the big patio Li’l Woody’s shares with the Jujubeet and Evergreens (all three constitute “The Deck”). There’s an assortment of outside seating, tall bar tables, shorter tables, and one big square table with fire rocks in the middle – which you might not need now, but fall isn’t that far away. There’s also some seating inside, including a little bar set off from the regular ordering counter, but for this time of year, that patio is a swell sipping and snacking spot for after work. If you don’t want to spoil your dinner with a burger, just share some hand-cut fries with a friend.
One note: the drinks aren’t available until 3 p.m. Not a problem, but if you were dreaming about have a 1950s-style lunch with cocktails, you’re out of luck. You’re in luck if you stop by for Thursday happy hours from 3 until 8 p.m., though, where you’ll find 50 percent off food, a DJ spinning sweet songs, games to play, and more.
A.J. Rathbun writes about bars, spirits and cocktails for Seattle magazine and seattlemag.com, and is the author of 11 books, incluing the IACP award-winning Good Spirits. See more at ajrathbun.com.