July 2016 Bar Bulletin
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July 2016 Bar Bulletin

An Americana Experience


In an election year, we are exposed to many different interpretations of what it means to be patriotic, or American. Patriotism’s commercial kid sister is named “Americana.” Americana is defined as “things produced in the U.S. and thought to be typical of the U.S. or its culture” by Webster’s dictionary (which is itself a bit of Americana). This month we turn to establishments that evoke Americana as a theme.

We celebrated our country’s stars and stripes with dinner and drinks early on a Friday evening at Re:public Restaurant & Bar (429 Westlake Ave. N.; 467-5300; republicseattle.com). Re:public is open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch, with daily happy hours from 4–6 p.m., and a Friday and Saturday late-night happy hour from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. Very friendly service and a vibrant buzz highlight this South Lake Union eatery. The high ceilings of the old warehouse in which it is located reflected an energetic atmosphere.

To start, we enjoyed “craft” cocktails. The “Lion’s Tail” (small-batch bourbon, lime, bitters and allspice dram) was so interesting and smooth that we would return to the bar for just that libation (with care, as it is one of those that goes down too easily).

The food was well worth sampling. On this occasion, we started with the beef tartare and roasted cauliflower. The beef was very simply presented with baby beets, a scallion and pepper purée. The cauliflower was very flavorful with sultanas, olives and capers, making almost every bite unique and different from the bite before.

Since everyone knows that nothing is more American than Italian food, we followed with the wild boar bolognese with pappardelle, which was spicy and flavorful. The spring risotto with peas, pea vines and truffle mascarpone was upscale comfort food; rich and creamy, complemented by the fresh, tender greens.

We finished off with the salted caramel pot de crème. Next time we plan to try the made-on-location mint chip ice cream, assuming it is available for late-night happy hour when we return for the maple-glazed Brussels sprouts.

Overall it was a very satisfying experience, with a nice variety of libations (including an excellent selection of bourbons and scotches), pleasing atmosphere, and food both homey and upscale.

Ever since a carpenter and cough syrup manufacturer named Pearle Bixby Wait trademarked a gelatin dessert in 1897 in Leroy, New York, Jell-O has been an American institution. Yet, few restaurants outside of hospitals serve the jiggling dessert, let alone elevate it. Enter the Back Bar at E. Smith Mercantile (208 First Ave. S.; 641-7250; esmithmercantile.com).

This unique retail store’s small Back Bar provides new American tiny bites and retro craft cocktails, and, yes, high-end Jell-O shots that taste like classic cocktails, and arrive on ornate plates. But it’s not just Jell-O that makes this Seattle’s new American gem. As the website boasts: “Like the Moonshine in Papa Smith’s bathtub, we are Handmade, Small Batch, and All American.”

The very small space is dressed in American flags and antlers of American beasts. A Pioneer Square escape, this place has everything going for it: cocktails that make the heart soar; small plates that make us grin ear to ear; and great employees excited about what they do. If you would ever consider purchasing small-batch, artisanal toothpicks, this is your bar. We recommend ordering the ricotta biscuit topped with honey and sipping on the Robert Burns. You won’t regret it.

Nothing says America like the great state of Montana. So say the Montanans. But for purposes of this article, Montana (1506 E. Olive Way; 327-9362; www.montanain
) is also the near-legendary, Western-themed “dive bar.”

Montana serves classic American cocktails, such as “Moscow Mules” (with locally sourced Rachel’s Ginger Beer) on tap and Midwestern pickle-
back shots (whiskey followed by a pickle juice chaser). With the recent addition of a parklet directly in front, Montana is a top destination to enjoy a cold beverage on a warm summer evening.

Arrive early with your dog for happy hour amongst the SLU tech crowd or come late night with the more traditional Capitol Hill hipsters. At either time, the place will be packed. Although Montana does not serve food, there is a plethora of melting pot options in the immediate proximity whence you can bring in food to enjoy at the bar.

Local favorites include New Jersey-
style pizza from recently opened Dino’s up the street, fresh Mexican torta sandwiches from Tortas Condesa next door, and (our personal delight) Malaysian fried rice from Kedai Makan in the newly renovated space behind the bar. With such diverse options, it’s hard not to be patriotic.

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