Last week I was in Seattle for the National Art Education Association Conference.  By day I was all kinds of museum education nerdy—I presented on Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and its application to museum education, talked with colleagues about creating a “culture of critical thinking,” and other fun stuff.  By night I took advantage of the fabulous cocktail scene.  Here are the highlights.

My first stop was at the Zig Zag Café.

Part of the charm with this place is getting there—I walked along a cobbled street that smelled of fish and followed a wall of gum.  I was so excited when I walked through the door and saw the venerable Murry Stenson behind the bar.  The vibe in the place is cool (Although the acoustics are not so good which made it hard for Michelle and I to catch up with two of our West Coast colleagues.), the food is delicious (hello, bacon and duck sausage!) and the drinks are superb.  My favorite was Albertini’s Night which featured bourbon, that delicious fennel-y Strega and orange bitters.

Night two took me, Theresa and Emily (two friends and very fun gals from the Getty) to Tavern Law—a small place with a dark wood bar, and books covering the wall shelves.  It’s like a personal library meets home bar.  We were lucky to secure three seats at the bar and quickly fell under the charm of our bartender Nathan Weber.  As a native Bostonian, perhaps one of the most noticeable things about Seattle was how friendly, open and genuinely nice people are, even to strangers.  My favorite off-menu cocktail Nathan mixed up for me was rich and bitter and herbally.  While it didn’t have a name, it did have rye, Gran Classico, Montenegro, Cardamaro, grapefruit juice, rosemary bitters and cardamom bitters. Wow! As Nathan said, “Rosemary and grapefruit love each other.”

Our evening ended upstairs at the tiny speakeasy Needle and Thread where I enjoyed a 4th Regiment, a cocktail whose recipe is recorded in Charles Baker’s 1939 The Gentleman’s Companion: Around the World with Jigger, Beaker and FlaskThis could become a new favorite:

4th Regiment

1 oz rye whiskey

1 oz sweet vermouth

dash orange bitters

dash Peychaud’s bitters

dash celery bitters (Scrappy’s; Miles Thomas himself was tending bar that night!)

I spent my final night in Seattle with my good friend Lori exploring Ballard, a fabulous neighborhood.  The high point was Sambar and bartender Jay Kuehner.  The bar is tiny, seriously, it’s like the size of my living room. But size does not restrict Jay—he packs his space with tons and tons of fabulous stuff, and he knows how to use it.  My first drink had bourbon, Cocchi Americano, pineapple water, dash of Campari, orange and Peychaud’s bitters topped with Champagne.  While we enjoyed an absolutely scrumptious parsnip soufflé, Jay indulged Lori’s question about why you use eggs in cocktails by shaking up a delicious example.  Get ready for the list of ingredients—egg white, tequila, hibiscus tea syrup, chili tincture, lime juice, lemon juice, dash of Tabasco, celery bitters, with a mezcal float on top!  It was deliciously smoky, tart, spicy and savory.  Jay not only makes fabulous drinks, he is a gracious host.  I loved the Sambar!

My week is Seattle was fantastic.  Both my mind and palate were stretched and expanded.  I heart Seattle. Cheers!