Moving to the music with Foy Vance

Even with terrible jet lag and packed in like sardines with a standing room only sold out audience, I still managed to thoroughly enjoy Foy Vance’s performance  on his Wild Swan Tour at Columbia City Theater this week.  WOW.  What a talent to play in this small venue.  Foy pours his heart into his music, lifting your spirits so high you can’t help but smile and move to the beat.  Whether banging it out on the piano or jamming on his guitar, Foy has passion and energy to spare.  With a careful branding of his Irish roots, he has great style, sporting a handlebar mustache, traditional tweed cap and a cheeky glint in his eyes.

After just coming back from our Ireland vacation, it was a joy to hear that lilting Irish accent again.  As the Irish would say, Feck it sure it’s grand.  Yes, that’s what they say.  He and his band decided that, like most musicians, Seattle is a grand fecking place to play.  Of course it is.

Foy opened for Elton John’s tour in Europe and was the first artist to sign on with Ed Sheeran for his new label.  When I heard he was going to play at Columbia City, I was thrilled.  Boise friends, he is there this week so go see him!  He is that good. wp_20160928_21_39_51_pro-2

With a full band and a large voice, Foy would have been better suited at The Moore or Paramount theaters so hopefully next time he makes the long trip from Ireland, he will move up to a much larger hall so we can enjoy his soaring vocals and excellent band with room to breathe.  To say it was aromatic with all the sweating bodies after a long day would be putting it mildly.  Ewwww….

After standing for over an hour in my heels, my feet were numb but I just couldn’t leave quite yet.  I love all the songs on his new album and enjoyed seeing them performed live. 

Foy’s opening act was a shrill Bob Dylan wannabe who I could have lived without seeing.  Usually the opening acts I have seen in the last year or so have been truly excellent but that was definitely NOT the case here.  Only a lovely whiskey and ginger cocktail got me through that crap that he was throwing all over the stage trying to be artistically crazy.

Finally, the jet lag won out though and, knowing I had to work the next day, we left Foy singing his heart out on the stage.  Come back to Seattle soon, Mr. Vance.  You are a true talent.

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Seattle Speakeasies-Cheers!

“Go to the far side of the room.  Pick up the phone and identify yourself.  We will come and get you at the metal door.” Thus, our speakeasy adventure in Seattle began on a hot Friday night.

Interesting that speakeasies are, by nature, supposed to be secret and exclusive but they are trending all over social media these days.  Our first stop, Needle and Thread, was recommended by several people at work, so off we went for a taste test.  Reading up on the speakeasy protocol, I learned that you can call in advance to secure a RSVP in this very small (probably 20 people max) prohibition-style experience.  Just calling to get the RSVP was fun-you leave a message (no more than 7 days in advance) after hearing the strict rules–if you are lucky enough to get a call back, you better actually PICK UP THE CALL to talk to the host or you won’t get in.  Done.

Promptly at 5 p.m. when the parent bar, Tavern Hall, opened, we were at the phone calling upstairs to gain entrance to the speakeasy, Needle and Thread.  Dress code:  “Keep it classy”.  Not sure what their definition of “classy” is but Thom was rocking his porkpie hat and looking very hipster.  When our friends arrived after fighting the horrible Friday Seattle gridlock, our drink master interviewed us on our cocktail/alcohol preferences as there is no menu and they warn you in advance not to expect an appletini to be made in their establishment.  There ARE speakeasy standards after all and only custom cocktails served, thank you very much.  Prepping for our trip to Ireland in the fall, I’m leaning into whiskey to be better equipped to take on the true Irish experience.  Our host got it right, creating for me an iced cocktail created with Irish Bushmills whiskey, orange liqueur, cherry herring and lime juice.  Tart and sweet and very refreshing on a hot day in a bar where ceiling fans provided the only air conditioning.  We drank up, chatted politics and then headed down Pike St. to our next speakeasy experience.

After wandering the block looking for Foreign National, I spied an unique door tucked away between other restaurants-found it!  Through the layers of beads and velvet curtains, we quickly hopped into a communal booth with strangers as the space is limited and in high demand.  While we sat and enjoyed our cocktail creations, other bar patrons streamed in looking in vain for seats in this trendy bar.  I went for the Foreign National house cocktail made up of pisco, Amaro Montenegro, honey, sour orange served with an egg white frost on top.  Petite and delicious.  Our friends had the complex cocktail named Osaka #1 consisting of Suntory Toki whiskey, vermouth blanc, lemon, yuxu, orgeat, ardbert spritz and anise smoke.  WOW-I have not a clue what most of that stuff is but I got a taste of it and it was interesting to say the least.

I loved the speakeasy ambience with the small interesting spaces filled with people who value quality booze concoctions over quantity.  I can’t wait to check out other speakeasies in Seattle (list below) and in NYC when we visit our favorite city in the fall.  Cheers!

Foreign National, 300 E. Pike St., Story in Seattle Times:  http://www.seattletimes.com/life/food-drink/foreign-national-is-this-the-best-new-bar-in-seattle/http://www.foreignnationalbar.com/http://www.yelp.com/biz/foreign-national-seattle-2

 Needle and Thread at Tavern Law, 1406 12th Ave., RSVP 206-325-0133, http://www.mccrackentough.com/tavernlaw/http://www.yelp.com/biz/needle-and-thread-seattle?osq=speakeasy

 Bath Tub and Gin, 2205 2nd Ave.  http://bathtubginseattle.com/;  http://www.yelp.com/biz/bathtub-gin-and-co-seattle?osq=speakeasy

 Knee High Stocking, 1356 E. Olive Way,  http://www.kneehighstocking.com/;http://www.yelp.com/biz/knee-high-stocking-co-seattle?osq=speakeasy

Many thanks to Karmann K. for sharing her photos of the evening’s adventure!

 

 

Booze and smoky butter!

Canon, a self-described whiskey and bitters emporium, is definitely deserving of all the buzz and accolades it has earned, including being named one of the best bars in the world by Drinks International in 2014.   Even at 5 p.m. on a Monday night, within minutes after opening, the intimate charming bar was packed with booze lovers.  Count me in!  Perched at the corner of the bar to closely watch the bartenders in action, they did not disappoint and treated us to a show indeed.  Boasting the largest spirit collection in the western hemisphere at 3,500 labels and counting, I just had to ask Hailey, our bartender, how on earth they kept track of where each bottle went.  Out came the iPad with a library of all their spirits by shelf.  Spirit search time!

Canon's wall of booze
Canon’s wall of booze

I was overwhelmed with the huge “lavish libations” menu and had to take some time to choose what to try.  My friends had been to Canon before so went right after some favorites-the “Campfire in Georgia” and the Truffle Old Fashioned.  After lighting up some cinnamon French oak on the plate with a mini-blow torch, Hailey dropped the glass cover over the drink concoction of mescal, peach-habanero shrub and fresh oj to infuse the cocktail with smokiness galore.  Quite the production:

The smokiness theme continued with the Khaleesi Cocktail that features “dragon’s blood smoke” (not kidding!) which is blown into a glass skull and then transferred into a mix of canon high west rye, bourbon, punt e mes, strawberry, and tonka bean.  WTF!  Exotic ingredients that added up to a tasty cocktail for my friend that I got to taste.  Thanks K!

Me and a bottle of aged booze!
Me and a bottle of aged booze!

Now, for my cocktail selection, I decided on a slut theme, starting first with the aged cocktail list offering of the “Hanky Panky” made up of gin, sweet vermouth, fernet branca, orange zest and aged in the cutest little bottle for three years.  Yes, you swig the Hanky straight from the bottle!  That went down just fine and I followed it with The Tramp consisting of Plymouth sloe gin, giffard apricot, fresh lime juice and dry sparking wine.  Less serious but highly entertaining sipping out of a glass this time.  Classy.

With all that alcohol, either load up on some carbs before you go or, better yet, order a basket of bread with smoked butter.  DAMN.  The booze was awesome but the smoked butter was heaven on a baguette.  They have other nibbles including smoked salmon, squash, beef, etc.  Needing something other than bread, I ordered the bourbon nuts.  With one bite of warm caramel corn/pretzel/bourbon smoky nuts, my taste buds swooned again.   I loved their warning on the food menu:

“Alcohol, eggs, sex, undercooked foods and most enjoyable things in life can and will kill you if you give them enough time.  Live life to the fullest until then.”  Amen, Canon.  I’ll be back.

Open 5 p.m.-2 a.m. daily, visit Canon, 928 12th Avenue on Capitol Hill in Seattle.  Be prepared to pay $25 in advance to get a reservation.  Don’t worry-it’s pricey so that $25 will go towards the many cocktails and nibbles you will enjoy.  Life is short.  Cheers!

Canon
Hailey mixes up a Khaleesi Cocktail, smoking skull and all!