Monday, October 17, 2011

Bar Notes

Monday may seem like a weird time for bar notes, as some people are pledging never to drink again after a hard weekend.  Just consider this research for friends who like to drink.  Maybe by the end of the week, you will have decided to have just one drink this weekend.

 news after the jump...


The biggest news, as far as I am concerned, is the announcement that Vessel will actually be returning.  This used to be my favorite bar in Seattle, long before I moved here.  To be honest, I stumbled upon it (well not literally, I was not drunk yet), using Yelp.  Vessel sounded cool, but to be honest, the main attraction was its proximity to my hotel.  What I found inside was a sleek modern interior with lots of windows for enjoying the Seattle drizzle outside.  I also found some master mixologists making magic with cocktails.  This place was said to be on the forefront of the local craft cocktail movement.  In fact, one of the aforementioned mixologists went on to open Liberty on 15th in Capitol Hill.  That is another fine bar.

I was sad to learn that Vessel had closed when I finally moved here.  They said that they would return, but lots of closed places say that, and they are never heard from again.  The only silver lining was the lining in my wallet.  Yes, the drinks were expensive there, so I risked spending way too much for someone moving here without a job.  This was the bar equivalent to the molecular gastronomy movement in food, so the crazy concoctions seemed worth the money.  They used foams and a machine that carbonated booze and had three kinds of ice.  It was great fun to sit at the bar and watch Keith make some amazing drinks.  He even told me that the people who opened the coolest bar in my hometown of Raleigh came into this bar while visiting just before they opened Foundation.  I guess they were touring notable bars in other parts of the country.

 You know you are in a serious bar if they have to have a glossary

the carbonating mechanism

It seems that Vessel will have a more serious food program now.  I do not even remember the food before, but this time around they have hired Cameo McRoberts as their chef.  Locally, she has worked at Pop Kitchen and Little Water Cantina, but I am most excited that she worked at Frontera Grill in Chicago.  Rick Bayless is one of my all time favorite chefs.  Vessel is supposed to be reopening later this year at the corner of 7th and Olive in the historic Tower Building.  This is evidently the original site of El Gaucho.  I plan to walk by there soon so I will know just where to go on opening night.  It is that good.


Canon bills itself as a "whiskey and bitters emporium."  Now what is not to like about that?  I had heard that the place was owned by the same people who own Grimms.  This was a bit of a turnoff.  After an absurd incident with a friend at the door there, I have been boycotting the place.  But the buzz about Canon and their subtitle made it impossible to resist.  I was not disappointed.  The atmosphere was great and the cocktails stupendous.  I ordered the Vermouth Experiment.  I love Manhattans, and this consisted of three small ones using different vermouth.  I have to admit that the differences were extremely subtle to my palette, but I was more than happy to participate in the experiment.  I may need to try the experiment a few more times just to get it right.

three drinks in one

The food looked and smelled amazing.  I commented that I could not wait to return and try the food.  The bartender turned around and said, "oh yes, the food is great."  He said it in such a way that I believed he meant it, and he was not just saying that to promote his employer.  Besides, based upon how busy it was on a week night, they are not hurting for business.  The place is small, so it is probably always packed.  I cannot imagine what it is like during peak hours on the weekend.

That said, it is about to get worse.  It was just announced that Murray Stenson is now tending bar here, three rotating nights per week.  He was the bartender at Zig Zag for years and was voted the best bartender in America at the industry event Tales of the Cocktail in 2010.  He was supposed to be going to work for Michael Mina's newish RN74, but that did not work out.  This guy has quite a following, so I am guessing there could be lines at this place.  I would say check it out at 928 12th Avenue, but I don't really want you taking a seat away from me.


  1. I know I am a drunk, when I can tell that the image of the glossary at Vessels is describing Absinthe .. this post makes me want to drink!

  2. Canon isn't owned by the folks at grimm's, it's owned by Jamie Boudreau who originally opened vessel- no wonder you liked it! Also Keith didn't open Liberty but joined Andrew in the partnership quite a while after Liberty had been opened. And you're right, they are both great bars!

  3. Wow Wendy. Thanks for the education. I have so much to leaarn.

  4. Well there's an app for that ;)