Oliver's Twist in Phinney Ridge offers well-crafted cocktails and good happy-hour deals.

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Outside of Ballard, the best bar to grab a cocktail up north is Oliver’s Twist in Phinney Ridge. I heard cocktail geeks make that pronouncement three years ago, and I’m convinced it still rings true now.

It’s still consistent, and it still concocts stuff like rhubarb tarragon syrup. (Bartenders have more fun here.) And at $6 per cocktail, it still offers one of the best happy-hour deals for artisanal cocktails.

Many bars don’t discount their specialty cocktails like Oliver’s Twist. Many don’t craft them as well either.

Take Blood and Sand. I’ve seen bartenders botch this classic cocktail more than any other drink in Seattle. It usually ends up too sweet — tweaked with too much cherry brandy, orange juice or sweet vermouth that drowns out the scotch. Not here. You get hints of caramel and vanilla from the scotch whiskey in Oliver Twist’s Blood and Sand.

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The food option isn’t so extensive that anyone would mistake Oliver’s Twist for a restaurant. Just nibbles: the best being the dates stuffed with bacon and blue cheese with tomato vinaigrette; the most addicting being the garlic truffle popcorn.

But Oliver’s Twist shouldn’t get too comfortable. Nearby, the recently reopened Stumbling Goat Bistro features a cheap happy-hour cocktail menu, and by spring there will be some new arrivals, including the anticipated cocktail bar Faraway.

Oliver’s Twist, 6822 Greenwood Ave. N., offers happy hour 5-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday and all day Sunday when all food, beer and wine is $1 off and cocktails $2 off (206-706-6673 or www.oliverstwistseattle.com.)

Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or tvinh@seattletimes.com

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