The latest in the beer-and-cocktail world, from rumors of an imminent Reuben’s release to a new bar (with mini-golf!) in Pioneer Square.
R.I.P. Spur Gastropub: One of Seattle’s best cocktail bars abruptly closed last Thursday, citing a slowdown in business. During the craft-cocktail renaissance, Spur was where up-and-coming bartenders wanted to work. The guys behind Spur also opened another acclaimed bar in 2009, Tavern Law. In recent months, several current and former Tavern Law employees told me their checks bounced, leading to rumors Spur’s younger sibling was done as well. But the owners said there are no plans to close that speak-easy den on Capitol Hill.
Women and whiskey: Booze sales reps and bartenders tell me all the time that Seattle has a large population of female whiskey drinkers. The latest example: Master Taster Elizabeth O’Neil, of Woodford Reserve Distillery in Louisville, who was in Seattle last week, said women are a growing segment and a targeted group for whiskey sales. Her itinerary in Seattle: meetings with The Women Who Love Whiskey club and with the local chapter of Network Executive Women.
Some stats that may surprise you: While sales of vodka stagnated (1.6 percent growth) in 2013-2014, sales of single malt rose 6.4 percent, bourbon 7.4 percent and Irish whiskey 9.1 percent, which the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, a trade association in Washington, D.C., attributed partly to women drinking more whiskey.
Beer lovers, keep your eyes out for this: Every year, releases of Reuben’s barrel-aged beer are so popular that the line wraps around the Ballard brewery and the beer sells out within 90 minutes, even with a two-bottle purchase limit. Psst. Check its website next week. There’s a good chance one of its barrel-aged beers will be ready by mid-May. Head brewer Adam Robbings bought more bourbon barrels to triple production this year.
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Rainier has a new beer: The iconic cheap beer — it’s served at every Seattle dive — will soon debut its first new sud in nearly 20 years. Rainier’s Pale Mountain Ale will be brewed in Woodinville and released on May 16.
Westland wins again and again: We have more than 100 distilleries in the state, but the debate over who’s the best is over. Westland last week was crowned America’s best single malt in the Ultimate Spirits Challenge in New York. The head judge was Paul Pacult, one of the world’s most influential spirits critics. Earlier, Westland was also named Craft Producer of the Year by Whisky Magazine. The past few weeks have not been too bad for Westland.
A small distillery on the national stage: 3 Howls Distillery in SoDo won Double Gold for its Navy Strength Gin at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition earlier this month, one of the industry’s highest honors in America.
Best new product released in Washington state:Issaquah-based Novo Fogo gets the nod for its one-year barrel-aged cachaça called “Barrel 86,” with hints of cookie dough and honey and a woody finish.
Another bar coming to Pioneer Square: Flatstick Pub, the Kirkland craft-beer bar with a 9-hole mini-golf course will open a second locale in Pioneer Square, about 9,000-square-feet, three times larger than its Eastside space. Scheduled to open by the end of May, the new Flatstick Pub, with 34 beer taps, will be located underneath Good Bar.
Best cocktail I had this month: The aptly named “Almost Perfect Cocktail” at Canlis, by barman James MacWilliams. (Plantation Pineapple Rum Stiggins’ Fancy, Averna, Cocchi Americano, Maraschino, Grenadine and bitters.)
This pineapple rum cocktail has a creaminess usually associated with piña coladas. But MacWilliams tweaked it with savory notes to make it taste more like a Manhattan.
Award-winning cocktail: I’ve judged enough Woodford Reserve Manhattan Experience contests to know the judging panel’s top pick rarely matches what attendees deem to be the best drink. Well, Rose Tosti from The Gerald in Ballard pulled it off; her bourbon cocktail was the judges’ top pick as well as the People’s Choice at Woodford Reserve’s cocktail throwdown at the Palace Ballroom earlier this year. Her winning recipe for your dinner party (you can also order it at The Gerald):
2 ounces Woodford Reserve Double Oaked
½ ounce Ancho Reyes
¼ ounce Dry curaçao
1 dash Fee’s Black Walnut bitters
1 dash Black Cloud Bitters’ Charred Cedar bitters
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with lemon twist.
Cochon 555: That gluttonous pork fest that felt like a scene out of “La Grande Bouffe” came to Seattle last week, ending with folks toasting with The Last Word, Seattle’s signature cocktail. Turns out this pig feast — on its 10-city tour — ends with this Seattle cocktail at every stop.