The short, well-curated drink menu features stellar three-ingredient cocktails. Enjoy them 14 stories up a private elevator. Don’t worry, there are heaters and blankets.
To open a rooftop bar in Seattle is to be a perpetual optimist, requiring you to see cloudy skies through rose-colored glasses.
Mbar, the swanky, new rooftop bar from the folks behind Mamnoon, makes the best of it, all right, with its strings of hanging filament bulbs to give the air of a summer night’s carnival midway.
I know. It’s raining. Work with me, here. This is a bar for all seasons. There are firepits and heaters. If you’re still cold, there are quilts to hide under. Wind screens will be erected soon.
Mbar sits in a new South Lake Union tower, 14 stories up a private elevator, down a long hall and through its dining room before you head to the prime real estate, the 80-seat patio.
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On this late September evening, some opted for the en plein-air, snapping pictures on their iPhones in panoramic mode. Others ducked under the covered half of the patio, sipping negronis and prosecco and staring out at Lake Union while Françoise Hardy crooned “Tous les garçons et les filles” overhead.
It’s a panopticon view of the ever-expanding South Lake Union. The Space Needle is flanked by construction cranes to the west and the smears of clouds hide the Olympic Mountains.
The short, well-curated cocktail menu features three-ingredient drinks, many tweaks on the classics — an ashy take on the Sidecar with a Szechuan-pepper rim; a fragrant, floral tweak to soften the usual Manhattan; and a Negroni with a creamsicle-like tinge.
All are stellar. But Mbar feels more like Mrestaurant, a showcase for talented young chef Jason Stratton, who found his muses in Spain, Northern Italy and the Middle East for the menus. Roasted cauliflower hummus and tuna crudo headline a seasonal, ever-changing appetizer list. The ambitious dinner menu changes frequently as well from duck confit to a polenta with white rabbit and foie gras Bolognese.
Most, though, come for a drink in the heated patio bar. On this evening, a group of girlfriends walked past the dining room and gathered on the rooftop outside, their manes flapping from the westerly wind. They snagged seats under the covers by the mosaic tile-tables. It was 64 degrees, but no one seemed to mind. Perhaps it’s because come happy hour, it’s gratifying to look east and see the ant-line of cars inching along Interstate 5 and know you’re in a better place up here.
Mbar, 400 Fairview Ave. N., Seattle, offers happy hour Tuesday-Sunday 4-6 p.m. with $7 well drinks, wine and $6 beer. Closed Monday, though will likely expand to seven days a week by December (206-457-8287 or mbarseattle.com).