At the Capitol Hill bar Witness last Saturday, my Sazerac came with a sermon.
The bartender stopped the music, walked around the bar, and with hand on leather-bound journal that subbed for a bible, Gregg Holcomb announced it was time to “Drop some knowledge.”
“Can I get an amen?”
The giggling crowd, one to three drinks already into the evening, played along.
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“Preach it, brother.”
Witness is the new Southern-themed bar, complete with pewlike benches, white clapboard walls and fake church windows to evoke — loosely — a backwoods Pentecostal church vibe, with bar owner Holcomb playing preacher at 10 p.m. every Saturday.
He’s not an actual preacher, and all the gimmicky, tongue-in-cheek sermons aside, Witness runs a solid cocktail program.
Holcomb is an old hand at this game, with four years behind the bar at the faux speak-easy Knee High Stocking Co. and before that, Chez Gaudy.
It’s an approachable drink list, created by someone who is attuned to the cocktail culture but also has business sense. There are enough boozy stir drinks to satisfy the cocktail connoisseurs but also enough sweet concoctions and less-than-$10 drinks to satisfy the weekend bar hoppers who won’t care whether their gin is juniper-forward.
There’s a bourbon-sweetened tea called “Son of the Preacher Man,” and a more elegant take on a Manhattan that’s herbaceous and finished with hickory-smoked cherry.
Happy-hour food is — surprise! — Southern themed: fried pickles, fritters, The Elvis (a sandwich with peanut butter, banana and bacon) and its best offering, Dixie Poutine, covered in an addicting bacon gravy. Twists on your typical bar grub, with twice the calories.
Witness also doubles as a weekend brunch spot, which gives the place the vibe of that Old South saying of Saturday-night sinner, Sunday-morning saint.
Witness, 410 Broadway E., offers happy hour 4-6 p.m. daily with $6 cocktails, $4 beer and $6 snacks (206-329-0248 or witnessbar.com).
Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @tanvinhseattle