You have happy-hour questions. Reporter Tan Vinh has answers.
This week, we dig into aquaculture genetics to answer a question about happy-hour oysters. A whiskey that’s harder to get than Pappy Van Winkle just arrived in Seattle, and poof! Just like that, it’s gone. And one testy reader wants to know why some spots don’t post closing hours. Questions were edited for brevity or clarification.
Q: Oysters should be eaten in the winter when they are plump, not during summer when they’re small and slimy. How is it possible that all these popular places like The Walrus and The Carpenter and Elliott’s Oyster House can serve all these oysters during happy hour?
A: Most of those half-shells served during happy hour are triploids, which are bred to maintain their quality throughout the year. Non-triploid oysters have to be harvested carefully for safe eating during the summer.
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On a side note, oyster happy hours start to draw long lines as the weather warms up, especially at The Walrus and the Carpenter in Ballard. Get there early. Here’s a new oyster happy hour without the wait: Local 360 in Belltown just launched its “progressive” happy hour, where oysters cost 75 cents from 3-4 p.m., increase to $1 from 4-5 p.m. and to $1.25 from 5-6 p.m.
The Walrus and the Carpenter, 4743 Ballard Ave. N.W., Seattle, offers happy hour 4-6 p.m. Monday-Thursday with oysters 50 percent off from 4-5 p.m. and 25 percent off from 5-6 p.m. (206-395-9227 or thewalrusbar.com)
Local 360, 2234 First Ave., Seattle, offers happy hour daily 3-6 p.m. (Note: the new oyster happy hour is not updated on its website yet.) (206-441-9360 or local360.org)
Q: You mentioned the hot new whiskey Yamazaki Sherry Cask just arrived in Seattle in your barfly column. Which stores carry it?
A: As one bartender said, “if you have to ask, you’re too late.” Collectors and whiskey aficionados snapped all the bottles up. You’ll have to check online, where they fetch $3,000-$3,500 a bottle on the secondary market. In other big cities, bars have been charging up to $200 for a 1.5-ounce shot. In comparison, it’s much cheaper here; that’s the only bright spot. About a dozen bars around Capitol Hill, a hotbed for whiskey drinkers, carry this rare Japanese whiskey. The lowest prices I’ve seen are at Momiji for $75 a shot, Naka for $85 and Liberty for $99.
Q: Sometimes you list late-night happy hour as 9 p.m. until closing instead of the actual closing hour. Why aren’t closing hours posted?
A: The last call for late-night happy hour is at the discretion of the manager or bartender. Many restaurants clear out after 10 p.m. on slow nights (usually Sunday through Wednesday) and management will decide to close early since it doesn’t make business sense to keep the staff around. They tend to stay open later if there’s a game or event nearby.
Don’t kill the messenger; I’m just explaining their logic. Bars and restaurants should post their closing hour and stick to it. I recall being at Single Shot after 1:15 a.m. on a stormy night when no one was around. The bartender said it faithfully stays open until 2 a.m. every day, because if you came and the doors were closed, you would think the bar was always closed early and never return. It’s not good for business.