We celebrate Women's History Month by spotlighting women who are making history by blazing new trails as some of the top bartenders in Seattle.
Clever Bottle (2222 Second Ave., Ste. 100; 915-2220; cleverbottle.com), owned and operated by Kristen Burns, is a unique gem in bustling Belltown. The rustic, yet modern, décor is as pleasing to the eyes as Burns's creative craft cocktails are pleasing to the taste buds.
When we bellied up to the bar at Clever Bottle, which displayed fresh ingredients and eclectic glassware, it felt as if we were pulling up a stool in a friend's kitchen ... if we had a friend who could mix that killer of a cocktail. With a menu comprised of local spirits and fresh seasonal ingredients, it was hard to choose. Burns came to our rescue.
After a few words from us about our likes and dislikes, she whipped up a cocktail individually crafted for each of us. And boy did she hit the mark. The drinks were tasty, unique and fresh.
We also tried the "House Brew Ginger Mule" (vodka, lime, fresh ginger root and ginger brew from scratch) and the "Reckoner" (fig-infused bourbon, cardamom, fresh sour and egg whites), both of which we would recommend to any reader. We will definitely make a second trip to Clever Bottle.
Rob Roy (2332 Second Ave.; 956-8423; robroyseattle.com), is the motherland and the mother lode. This Belltown joint is the brainchild of Anu Apte. Her fame as one of the nation's top female mixologists has landed Rob Roy on not only numerous lists of best bars in the U.S., but also on Anthony Bourdain's list.
Apte's signature style is the perfect mixture of top-flight spirits with underlying herbaceous notes. Rob Roy successfully plays off traditional classics and creates classics of its own, like the best Smith and Cross daiquiri in town, but also Apte's now classic "Gunpowder Punch," a house blend of rums, "old world" spices and yes, gunpowder - quite explosive.
This past year has brought new creations from the bartending staff, including Courtney Matske's beguiling "El Tio Nonillo," an incredible mix of mezcal, pear liqueur, dry vermouth and Amaro Nonino. Watching Matske shake out an "El Tio" with gusto is a treat to be savored, only matched by the first sip, which wipes away every second of stress from the daily legal life. Also not to be missed is the "Leaf and Silo." Bourbon lovers will be bewitched by the subtle tastes of spearmint extract and caraway tincture that linger and please.
Witness (410 Broadway E.; 329-0248; witnessbar.com). Did you ever meet a bartender you really want to like you? You do things like pretend to be cooler than you are. You order cooler drinks. You even start dressing cooler when you go to the bar.
This is how one of our Dining Out With Schwabe imbibers feels about the bartender on Sunday mornings at Witness. And what is more "uncool" than asking the bartender her name for an article for the Bar Bulletin? So, she remains unnamed, but idolized as she concocts Ramos gin fizzes (with gin, citrus, cream, egg white, simple, orange flower water) to accompany the Witness creamy white corn grits and egg.
And while we tried to get up the nerve to ask her for an interview while she was making us a "Mary, Full of Grace" (vodka, tomato juice, spice, salvation), we became distracted by house-made sausage in gravy, and then once again chickened out. Needless to say, she is far too cool for us lawyers to be around, but she makes a mean brunch drink.
A trip to Sun Liquor Bar & Distillery in Capitol Hill (512 E. Pike St.; 720-1600; sunliquor.com/sunliquordistillery.php), left us with a spring in our step and a delicious taste in our mouths. The bar winds the length of the restaurant, and upon pulling up a stool we were greeted by well-known bartender Missy Cross. Cross has been featured in Seattle Metropolitan and knows her stuff. When we asked for a recommendation based on our palate, she recommended the two drinks we were already eyeing.
We tried the "Orange Buck," a delightful mix of Sun Liquor's own Hedge Trimmer gin, fresh-squeezed orange and lime juice, and ginger beer; and the "Forager," a light cocktail with bourbon, Salers aperitif, all spice dram, and chocolate bitters, finished with an orange peel. We tried some more drinks after that, including the "Royal Bermuda Yacht Club" (yum) and just a regular old mojito.
All were exceptional. All the juices were freshly squeezed as we watched and you can taste the freshness in each cocktail. We polished off our trip with some delicious noshes and left happy and full.
Cross recommended we check out some local bartenders at the Third Annual Speed Rack competition (speed-rack.com) at Century Ballroom, where female bartenders from around the Northwest pit their skills against one another in support of a good cause - breast cancer research. Cross won the competition the first year and intended to defend her title.
We took her up on her advice and were delighted by the festive atmosphere and the lightning-fast skills of the Pacific Northwest's best lady bartenders. Winner of this year's competition was Angel Teta, a mixologist from Portland. Find her creations at Ataula, a Spanish restaurant in Portland's Alphabet district (1818 NW 23rd Pl.; 503-894-8904; ataulapdx.com).
Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt is a multiservice, Northwest regional law firm with offices in Seattle, Vancouver, Portland and Bend. For comments on this article or to share your favorite places to eat or drink with the Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt attorneys, contact Claire Been at 206-407-1543 or at firstname.lastname@example.org; see also www.schwabe.com/dining_out.aspx. Follow us on Twitter @schwabedinesout.