Still in Seattle, Washington. In search of an after dinner option, and wanting a night cap. Our hosts took us to a themed bar. Located conveniently a couple of buildings down from their apartment in capital hill. I imagine this makes them quite popular during the weekends.
On the exterior, things look relatively simple. White painted brick columns and full glass windows. On the front door, “Tavern Law” is printed in fine type. It all looks very professional. If it wasn’t for the string of lights outlining each window’s edge, I could see this being the entrance to an actual law firm.
Close to 12am the bar was still relatively full. With more guests trickling in and out, all the way until cut off at 2am. As per standard bar practice the room is kept darkened. I was able to make out curiosities by candle light. Items positioned to give guests that accurate prohibition feel. Elements from an older time and of a different era. A black “Singer” sewing machine coated with a glossy black finish and gold detailing. A well worked wooden tool box with mental handle. And a classic turn table, formerly used to place bets on black or red, now hangs ornamentally behind the bar.
With the majority of the guests gone we were given a luscious booth in the back corner. Black pleather seats with deep dimpled backs, a full round table, and it’s own miniature chandelier hung overhead. Tucked away, this provided us with a quiet space to talk in private. Able to seat 10 this booth gave plenty of room for 4.
Most impressive was the very regal looking book shelf. I didn’t get a chance to check, but was told it houses actual, useable law tomes. They certainly kept things authentic.
My host was most excited to showcase the pub’s secret bar. A bar within a bar? A concept meant to model after the days of prohibition, when booze was outlawed. Places like these would offer patrons a way to get inebriated in secret. Here a lone black telephone sat with handle and cord on hook. You picked up the receiver to request access upstairs. The secondary bar was just over the original. Looking up you could see the spaced carved out and could make out fixtures in the dimly lit windows. Once the vault door opens you walk up a staircase to an actual speakeasy. One tediously recreated to represent others found during the prohibition era. My host informed me of its old time swankiness. Pictures of pin up models with curls, bountiful bossoms, and legs for days. Antique furniture of upholstered leather, shapely wood frames, and with canopies over heads. It being after 12am I was not able to gather a look for myself. But I imagined things having a vintage feel. With cigar smoke, top hats, and a gramophone spinning on a needle. I liked the subtle pun. Downstairs represented the law with legal tomes and citizens abiding by the rules. Where as upstairs was literally and figuratively, “above the law”. Our hosts reminisced when “Tavern Law” first opened. Its surrounding neighbours, like themselves, were given an opportunity to come in for an intimate tour. It was then they were given details on the history and the concept of the bar. Despite all its depth and regality the bar had a very laid back feel.
The main bar was well lit with refrigerated coolers and bottles on shelves. The bartender behind it was kept active, slinging drinking and shaking up classic cocktails. Reputation has it that time and care goes into making each drink. That they treat their craft with much respect and precision. These are works of art, drinks for sipping. You are meant to linger and savour the flavours of your mixed beverage.
Sitting down this late, the food menu was already made unavailable. Though realistically this isn’t the place for a sit down meal. Maybe a snack or two, but this would not be the place you come in hungry to. If we had come in earlier, we would have been offered items like fras grois, according to our food conscious host.
Glass of champagne.
“Vieux Carre”. Rye, cognac, sweet vermouth, Benedictine, and bitters. The name means “old square” in French. And Benedictine is apparently one of oldest alcohols, it was original made by monks. When this drink came out it was strong and much more bitter than expected. With a mention our server was which to accommodate. She brought the glass back and had the bartender sweeten the mix.
“Fourth Regiment”. Rye, carpano, antica, angostura, orange, and celery bitters. Strong and neat. One of those drinks you would describe as being able to put hair on your chest.
“Midnight in Paris”. Bourbon, cranberry liquor, aperol, lemon, honey, and rise. I definitely got the Paris in this. This cocktail made me feel feminine, as I took it in with its lone Rose petal and delicate glass. I felt I should be gripping it with a satin gloved hand.
“Mint julep”. Mint, sugar, whiskey, and splash of bitters. The traditional drink of the Kentucky derby. Quite the presentation with its bright mint leaves and metallic cup.
A custom drink made from a picky and finicky description. Vodka with sour mix, lemon, and rhubarb bitters. Based on the speed in which this was consumed, I would say my guest enjoyed his customized beverage.
Would I come back? – No. As I am a tourist visiting from Vancouver, British Columbia. During my next trip back to Seattle I would like to try something else. Something different that this exciting city has to offer. However I can and have already recommended this place.
So would I recommend it? – Yes. With its unique theme and original design, I deem this bar quite the gem. For my friends studying law this would be a fun place to unwind and drink to relax after class. And if the need to study should arise, they can do that here too. With textbooks that function for both fact and novelty. However be warned this is not the place to get your “girly” shots at, and there are no blended tropical ices here. There is no rainbow this or sweet that. Here you find full bodies brews, sophisticated syrups, and classy cocktails. A place for refinement and one where you expect to pay more for quality found at the bottom of each glass. Don’t deny your cravings.