Sun Liquor Distillery, a cocktail bar and distillery under one roof, serves drinks created with the small batches of gin and vodka made on site, as well as from the standard brands found at other area establishments.
Happy Hour | So three weeks ago, another new gin rolled off the assembly line in Seattle. It could have been greeted with a yawn from the bar industry, but this gin is made by Sun Liquor Distillery, a distillery and cocktail bar under one roof, the only such operation in the state, according to the Washington State Liquor Control Board.
Located on Pike Street, this cocktail bar has a copper still in the back, cranking out small batches of gin and vodka behind a glass wall. Out front, bartenders sling cocktails made from the bar’s own line of gin and vodka, as well as the usual booze staples found behind other bars.
Up next, Sun Liquor Distillery will make a seasonal gin for Christmas; apple brandies also are coming, and whatever head bartender and distiller Erik Chapman fancies every month. Given that the bar has control over the most important element in a cocktail — the base spirit — bar staff can make cocktails exactly to Sun Liquor’s specifications.
Sun Liquor also wants to be a player in the liquor business. Its gin and vodka are stocked in liquor stores now and, with the passing of Initiative 1183, likely will be in grocery stores next June.
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This operation is owned by Michael Klebeck, who co-founded Top Pot Doughnuts. The distillery is an offshoot of Klebeck’s first bar, Sun Liquor, on Summit Avenue East, one of the best neighborhood bars in Seattle, with a fervent following among cocktail geeks. They hope to build on the Sun Liquor brand.
Sun Liquor Distillery offers a simple sandwich menu — cheeseburger, BLT and grilled cheese — served with a basket of paprika-seasoned shoestring fries. Its best deals are the craft cocktails during happy hour ($5-$8).
That gin? It’s a good gin. But unlike House Spirits Distillery in Portland, which set a goal of redefining gin, Sun Liquor made a safe gin, London Dry style, designed for the mainstream palate — robust orange and lemon peel flavors upfront, tangy on the mid-palate with hints of coriander, and a smooth finish.
During happy hour, the gin is featured in the $8 Alaska cocktail with yellow chartreuse, which complements the botanical notes nicely. But the cocktail may be too spirit-forward for mainstream tastes. You might want to opt for a martini or a gin and tonic to start.
Sun Liquor Distillery, 512 E. Pike St., offers happy hour daily from 5-7 p.m. with $2 off specialty cocktails and $3 well drinks (206-720-1600 or sunliquor.com).
Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter: @tanvinhseattle