December 2012

Best of 2012

Our biggest "best" list ever. From the hottest new bands to swoon-worthy shoes, our editors round up the best our city has to offer.

From this Issue

Visual Arts

Kathi Goertzen, 54, one of Seattle’s most trusted television anchors for nearly three decades, died on August 13, after a 14-year battle with recurring brain tumors. Goertzen, a Seattle native and outspoken Cougar fan, first joined KOMO-TV as an intern in 1979, but soon became part of a long-term on-air partnership with co-anchor Dan Lewis.

Hottest Haircutting Talent
Niko Weddle, Gene Juarez

From no-hitters to new highways, pocket libraries to boutiques on wheels, 2012 brought a slate of changes to Seattle. The city is bristling with construction cranes and bustling with new shops, breweries, barbecue joints and pontoon-dragging barges.

You’ve heard it all a million times: Drivers are jerky, lazy, inattentive louts looking to put another notch in their steering wheels by giving cyclists a close shave, thereby asserting the supremacy of the almighty car while wasting our precious natural resources.

If the book-publishing industry weren’t broken, Ken Shear might not be trying to fix it. Shear, publisher and CEO of Seattle’s new alternative publishing venture, Booktrope (, is trying to turn a page in publishing with a team approach, one that alleviates some of the traditional frustrations endemic to legacy publishing houses and typical e-book publishers.

This year we recruited local music expert Chris Estey, who writes for music website Three Imaginary Girls, to help us pick the best emerging bands from Seattle’s crowded scene. Here, Estey makes it easier for other up-and-comers by reverse-engineering his chosen bands’ recipes for success.


Tit for tat: Local developers of the JoeyBra bra—with pockets, of course—sued by British developer of similar bra.

Miss Calculation: Seattle beauty queen tweets about her hatred of Seattle weather, sparks a tempest among her Twitter followers.

Sparks fly every year when our panel of experts assembles to choose Seattle’s boldest, brightest, brashest and bossiest movers and shakers from the past year. And 2012 is our biggest list yet—with 62 names—featuring high flyers who are definitely on your radar, and others who sneak under (or try to!).

Who would have thought that in the year of Occupy protests and anti-fat-cat rhetoric, liberal Seattle’s agenda would be hijacked by a multimillionaire San Francisco hedge fund manager? But so it was.

If you're looking for fun and festive events to help get you in the holiday spirit, Seattle mag has you covered. From familiar chestnuts, to fresh (and funny) takes on classic themes, arts and culture editor Brangien Davis guides you through a slew of recommendations in the way only she can.

An alien craft has landed in the serene reflecting pool at the Frye Art Museum. Resembling a miniature moon lander, the R2-D2-size sound sculpture, by Seattle artist Robb Kunz, floats on the surface like a water bug, emanating music by local composer Jherek Bischoff.

There’s nothing more unsettling in an editor’s world than sending a big, best-y Best of the Year issue to the printer—complete with adulations of the most influential people of 2012—mere days before a nail-biting election in which we’re voting for a president and a governor, among other things, including a historic piece of civil rights legislation.

BD: Told through monologues, comedy and a 13-piece orchestra, your new show, Now I’m Fine, is described as “musical theater,” but I’m guessing we are not talking Cats.

Newsflash: Cupcakes are the new cupcake. Despite the petite cakes’ years-long run as the trendiest sweets around, shops selling the treats continue to flourish and reproduce as rapidly as the Pitt-Jolie clan. Debates about which bakery produces the best (Trophy? Cupcake Royale?) can get as intense as football rivalries (Husky? Coug?).

Inspired by Trastevere, the 13th district (or rione) of Rome, Ethan Stowell’s latest endeavor lives in a casual, spirited corner dining room on the east side of Capitol Hill.

Yes, Ballard has come to this: a barbecue joint with $8 valet parking. Kickin’ Boot Whiskey Kitchen isn’t really a joint, though. It’s an enormous, polished, ironwork-brick-and-beams concept in the growing restaurant empire of Nathan Opper and Zak Melang (seven Matador restaurants in three states, plus a Portland sibling to the Whiskey Kitchen). Luckily, the Kitchen works.

Minutes after I walked into this tiny Ballard candy shop, the mop-topped young man behind the counter asked: “What can I do to put a smile on your face?” Believe it or not, this line did not come off as saccharine, but as charming as the cheek-pinchingly adorable Sweet Mickey’s.

Some people love sparkling wines. I mean love sparkling wines. “They go with everything!” enthuses my friend and frequent tasting partner, wine representative Sarah Budge. “The only way you can use all your senses,” she says. We clink glasses. “They are so festive!” I say. We speak in the plural, as if bubbles are a whole family, a whole set of persons.

Uniquely Welcoming
Walk into Clever Bottle and you’ll probably feel a bit enchanted by its contrast to the outside world: With an airy design highlighted by candles, white walls, Edison lightbulbs and the occasional palm frond, the bar seems less “downtown” and more “French countryside.”

Two reasons to visit Crumble & Flake Patisserie on weekends:

One, the doors open at 9 a.m. (weekdays, it’s 7 a.m.), a more civilized time to get into the ever-present queue before your favorites sell out.

Britt Eustis’ life has always been closely linked to pickled products: He moved to Seattle from Connecticut in the 1980s, and worked first at Charlie’s Produce and then at a food distribution company that took him all the way to Japan. There, he helped import miso, kimchi from Korea and other traditional fermented foods.

What it is: Strega is a magical Italian liqueur made from spells and spun gold. OK, it’s actually a blend of 70 herbs and spices that traces back to the 1860s, when Giuseppe Alberti—a grocer’s son—decided to make a liqueur with saffron (which gives Strega its signature color), a local wild mint and other intriguing ingredients. 

As evidenced by the beloved 1980s teen board game Mall Madness, navigating the shopping centers can be fraught with obstacles, especially during the holidays. (Find a gee-darn parking spot! Cash in on sales! Beat Stacy back to the arcade!) Thankfully, our local shopping meccas have plenty of special deals, and even a pop-up shop or two, to help check gifts off your list.

Seattle native Gregory Blackstock’s drawings are irresistible for several reasons: the subject matter, both mundane yet something we never thought of grouping before; his use of color, both accurate and unexpected; and his visual repetition of forms, which express both symmetry and variety.

It’s become a holiday ritual for Sun Liquor bartender Erik Chapman.

Sometime around Thanksgiving, he mixes up a batch of real, homemade eggnog, the kind with raw yolks, cream, sugar, bourbon and brandy (and he sometimes spills a little rum or other spirit in there, too, for good measure) to serve to customers on Christmas Eve and Christmas.

WHY: For the sixth annual Craft Bazaar (11/30–12/2. Times vary.

Say you’re wondering what a nutria looks like, and you don’t trust the random photos that pop up on Flickr. Enter the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound (, the scientist-approved online resource from the University of Washington’s Puget Sound Institute, and its searchable species library.

^ Federal Way craftsman Kyle Schumacher’s stained glass “holiday lights” offer a festive look that doesn’t require spending hours on a ladder in the rain. Choose a mix of colors or opt for a chic monochromatic vibe. $5 per bulb (wire and suction cups provided).

In her new book, Things I Want to Punch in the Face, local author and blogger Jennifer Worick gives her pet peeves a pop. Here, she trains her pugilistic eye on a few Seattle staples: