“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!