Bourbon-lover in Belltown seeking a quiet spot for a date? Commonwealth is the place for you.
For a couple known mostly for their tapas and Spanish gin-and-tonics, Cory and Amanda Chigbrow have taken quite the detour with their latest bar.
Their new project, Commonwealth, sits in a sleepy part of Belltown with an entrance along a forlorn alley and a bar stacked with the amber glow of whiskey. Instead of the Mediterranean, their new hideaway is an homage to Kentucky and bourbon. And so there is Mint Julep, Seelbach and, for happy hour, a $7 Maker’s Mark Mule in place of Moscow Mule.
Behind the bar is a dude in a watch cap and a Papa Hemingway beard, his sleeves rolled up like he just stepped off a fishing dock in Maine.
“That Mighty Jack is my favorite,” he offered.
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The drink list leans toward boozy, brown drinks including the said Mighty Jack, apple brandy and the bitter Amaro Brauli fortified with the addition of — wait for it — bourbon, a potent brew.
The bar boasts more cocktails (Manhattan, Old Fashioned, etc.) on tap than beer.
There’s a nice take on a Boulevardier with the Campari swapped out for the Swiss liqueur Gran Classico for a bitter bite. The rye-brandy concoction Vieux Carre didn’t fare as well, the proportions out of whack.
The bar snacks are what you would expect: shrimp-and-grits and Southern hot chicken wings. They’re serviceable, though more memorable because the food is discounted ($2 off) into the dinner hour. Its bourbon list lacks the cult bottles that cocktail geeks have come to expect of a whiskey bar.
Still, you can’t bicker with the couple’s track record. With three Belltown places (Pintxo, Bar Abajo and The Upstairs bar) under their helm, they have outlasted a lot of their peers in the neighborhood. They’re old-hands at this game.
This Bluegrass-State-themed bar fills a niche that party Belltown lacks. Plopped three blocks north of the heart of the neighborhood, Commonwealth is a place for adults to enjoy an adult beverage in a quiet setting. It seats 60, with plenty of couches scattered throughout. If the room were lit four shades brighter, Commonwealth would look more like a coffeehouse.
On this night, two guys at the bar debated the merits of “Mr. Robot,” while nearby a couple on an online date went through some awkward pleasantries. Across the room, a group of office workers slouched deep into the couch, unwinding over a round of Old Fashioneds. And piping from overhead, the melody of Alina Barez’s “Make You Feel” was low enough that you can actually do something that’s rare in a Belltown bar — carry a conversation.
Commonwealth, 2219 Fourth Ave., Seattle, offers happy hour daily 4-8 p.m. with $4 pints, $7 Maker’s Mark Mules and $2 off all tap cocktails and items on the food menu. Note: Accessible through the Bell Street alley, it’s located behind Pintxo. No website, but available on Instagram @CommonwealthSEA.