The Weekly List #2–The Backdoor, Ocho, & Bastille

Thinking of the dreary nights, a nostalgic reverie,  for I’m onto life in Paris with my Seattle days behind me. A second list of drinks and establishments feels in order for this occasion! The Backdoor Sazerac, from the Back Door, a Sergio Leone from Ocho, and a French 75 from Bastille are the special three. Sensuous and memorable, these drinks all manage to pull off what I hope for when I get a drink.

The Back Door-462 N. 36th St. Seattle, WA 98103

IMG_0004It was a humdrum Tuesday evening over Seattle, Washington. The rain flooded the streets and leaves clogged irrigation systems, cars pushed water from avenue to avenue up onto the sidewalks and driveways. My friend and I hurried through the backstreets of Fremont in search of a bible and a church. Kidding, a drink and an atmosphere, but closed signs, and a ghostly climate descended like a bog. Suddenly it hit me, ’I heard about this place from a co-worker.’ ( yeah you 😉 ) We shimmied through a parking lot toward a door that was lit in red lights like a burlesque… The Backdoor.  The interior, an amalgam of Versailles and a circus, equipped with chandeliers, greco-roman statues, and mirrors upon mirrors, somehow strung together in a coherent fashion of bourgeoisie mockery. ‘Your house Sazerac.’ It arrived, and left in a seamless flow.  Like being punched in the stomach by silk. My friend said he liked the place. He’s a hardy fisherman, they tell tales, but I trust his taste, and have to agree with him on this one. A Jazz Trio picked up the music to set the backdrop of our conversation. A table in front of us clapped and cheered along. What a place to be.

Ocho-2325 NW Market St Seattle, WA 98107

Spanish Tapas and drinks named after Italian Directors. A peppy bartender who obviously knows what he’s doing.  For a fistful of dollars, I purchased ‘The Sergio Leone’— bourbon, lemon extract, ginger and liquor 43. Made an impression like the venerable director would. The creators of this joint obviously have divine taste.

Ocho is a grungy tavern, but it has trendy, techy clientele, an all too familiar scene in Seattle. That’s what makes this city somewhat false in a way. Like the drink is inspired by a real director, Seattle is inspired by a real city, and somehow the product comes out fresh, and oh so nice. 

Bastille-5307 Ballard Avenue Northwest, Seattle,Washington

A table of 50 year old aristocrats sat laughing at a table next to us, we were the only others there. Monday, lovely Monday, when it’s basically a private bar for you. “French 75 please,” I turned to everyone, “In honor of my mother.” It’s her favorite, and I couldn’t sip it quick enough. My mother told me to never drink before 21,XEXW5047 “you don’t want them to have something on you honey. And this way you’ll learn to appreciate it, as a privilege–a private pool, not an oasis.”

Gin, Champagne, and Lemon whipped into an easy to drink, celebratory special. Sending a toast home from Paris, Santé & A bientôt. 

Con Amor,

Mr. Cohiba

The Weekly List-Kate’s, The Tin Table & Smith

As a student of the intricate hobby, art, or whatever one calls the Cocktailian, I’d like to think that I know my fundamentals. The basics. My Manhattan, and Old Fashioned, and even the modern day classic the Moscow Mule (recipes at the end of post). And these three happened to be the drinks that I tried last week. Only they were variations of the classics. Seattlite’s have a very quirky approach to things, and this includes drinking, it’s almost as if we took a wrong turn at the 60’s and decided that this time we want to do it differently.

Kate’s, Wallingford-309 NE 45th st. Seattle, WA

Kate’s Pub was my first destination. A divey neighborhood bar right across the street from my family home in Wallingford. Wooden tables, a warm atmosphere, free pool, and an inexpensive happy hour are a few words with which I can confidently characterize the establishment. On game days this place packs them in, from recent graduate students to older couples, and Kate’s knows how to take care of everyone with amiable and speedy service.  I ordered one of their gameday specials, an aged Rye Manhattan, with a Marachsino plopped at the bottom appropriately. The drink was spicy and robust, the flavor clung to my chest. I sipped it to the pace of the Seahawks preseason game, and the convivial nature caught up to me as I joined in on conversations with nearby strangers, met neighbors and cheered Russell Wilson through the first quarter.

The Smith, Capitol Hill-332 15th Ave. E, Seattle, WA

One of my buddies left for Italy this past week, so we decided to grab a last American meal with him to fully hear about his plans abroad.  Smith, a restaurant on our list, (and everyone’s that I’ve talked to since) happened to be the perfect venue for such an occasion. With an eccentric decor that meshes the feel of a university library, and a congressman’s parlor, Smith served us up some immaculate hamburgers and drinks.  I ordered their craft Masala Mule, a modern mix on the Moscow Mule, with Chai infused vodka, and ginger syrup, instead of the beer. Everyone at my table gave it a try, and were quickly converted to the Masala. The addition of infused liquors really adds another dimension to the drink. Think of the endless possibilities, a kaffir lime infusion in a Mandalay mule that gives it some zest, or coconut infusion in a Martinique mule.

The Tin Table, Capitol Hill-915 E Pine St. Seattle, WA

After Salsa class, an old friend and I decided to cross the way, and we stumbled into the bar known as the Tin Table, a contemporary alcove, with transcendent class. The patrons looked as if they were from a classic movie, or the show Mad Men, and I ordered aptly. “Give me two Old fashioned, old fashioned’s,” somewhat of a paradox, as the drink is a new take on the legendary cocktail. A neon display of different drink-ware greets you at the entrance. I appreciated the decor of the brick walls, and dark wooden tables, as the establishment did have an air of a place you would find in a large metropolitan area, but we were in the cozy suburb of Capitol Hill.  The drink went down. Classic ingredients of a Rye whisky, Angostura, and brown sugar accentuated by cherry and lemon zest. And, a cigar tincture. Something that I’ve never heard of, a tincture is actually a direct extract from the cigar, fired up over a harsh flame to add a ‘member’s only’ feel to the drink. I guess it gives a brazen attitude to the double named drink.

The Manhattan (classic):

  • 2 ounces Rye
  • 1 ounce Vermouth, sweet and Italian
  • Angostura bitters to taste
  • 1 maraschino, an anchor after the ship goes down

Build in a chilled glass.

The Moscow Mule:

  • 2 ounces Vodka
  • 3 ounces Ginger Beer
  • 2 lime wedges for garnish

Build in a chilled glass over ice.

The Old Fashioned:

  • 1 sugar cube
  • 3 dashes of Angostura bitters
  • 3 ounces of Bourbon or Rye
  • 1 lemon twist

In a chilled glass, fill a sugar cube with bitters, muddle. Then add generous ice and the finest whiskey from your shelf. Ta-da!

Con Amor,

Mr. Gittleman