Questions. We get questions. This week, we talk about the passing of the great cocktail bar Vessel, Monday date night and downtown cocktail spots for dudes with serious jobs.
Questions were edited for clarification or brevity. Feel free to email me with yours. (For readers emailing me with a complaint about a bar or service, let’s go easy on the exclamation marks and “Caps Lock” key, eh?)
Q: What happened to Vessel?
A: To the shock of cocktail fans here and from as far away as New York City, the acclaimed Vessel cocktail bar closed after last Friday night. It had been bustling during the evenings especially during happy hour, but not so much at other hours. And it was also bleeding money after a costly build up and other delays to its opening.
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Vessel filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month. According to court records, it owes almost $800,000 to creditors, and its listed asset was just $63,000.
As far as its legacy, Vessel left quite an impression in our drinking culture. Debuting downtown in 2006 to much national acclaim, it was one of Seattle’s most ambitious and influential bars, pushing whiskey and boozy and bitter drinks at a time when bar hoppers were drinking vodka and candy cocktails.
After leaving its original location in December 2010 over a lease dispute, Vessel returned August 2012 on the corner of Seventh Avenue and Olive Way — in a new, industrial chic space that was even bigger and more ambitious, with a ‘Red Room” for private parties and a “Lab,” where bartenders could experiment like mad scientists, breaking down 300-pound crystal-clear blocks of ice with a chain saw.
“It was not doing the volume that we were hoping it would do,” Vessel co-owner Clark Niemeyer said Saturday. “We talked to them (the landlords) about renegotiating our lease to take the pressure off us. But they were not willing to do that. But we take full responsibility. We took a risk. We did it with our eyes wide open.”
Q: My wife and I have decided to start date night every Monday or Tuesday. Is there an interesting happy hour around Capitol Hill at night?
A: How about jazz night at Coastal Kitchen? Every Monday, free live jazz at 9:30 p.m. with $1.25 oysters and $4 wine, $6 martinis and other drink specials. Afterward, walk a block down for a night cap at Liberty, one of the great neighborhood bars in Seattle. Coastal Kitchen, 429 15th Ave. E., Seattle (206-322-1145 or coastalkitchenseattle.com).
Q: I’m trying to arrange an informal cocktail gathering for about 15 people beginning at 7 p.m. The attendees will be at a conference at the Westin Hotel and need a place within a short walking distance of the hotel. The group will consist of professional business people (lawyers, accountants, trust-company officials and investment bankers).
A: Hit Oliver’s Lounge, where lots of guys in Brooks Brothers suits drink martinis after 5. To the side of the bar is a dining area that the staff can reserve for you; no charge during the evening. There’s also complimentary bites during happy hour (4:30-6 p.m. Monday-Friday). Oliver’s Lounge, 405 Olive Way, Seattle (206 623-8700 or www.mayflowerpark.com/olivers.asp).
Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @tanvinhseattle