A quiet stretch of West Seattle gets a cocktail bar that aims to compete with the city’s best — and is starting to wake up this sleepy North Admiral neighborhood.
On this quiet stretch of California Avenue Southwest, where you can hear a dog barking from the second floor down the street, the closing time is 10 p.m. on school nights at The Nook, the new bar in West Seattle.
But on a recent Thursday, The Nook, it seems, would be doing Capitol Hill-like hours. Folks were yelling to be heard while A Tribe Called Quest piped “Can I kick it” overhead.
One dude, reading from his iPhone, announced to friends the Trump administration would crack down on pot use. Their reactions ran from “What?!?” followed by lots of expletives. The guys went from nursing Manny’s to the hard stuff.
Opened last month, the bar is starting to wake up this sleepy North Admiral neighborhood. Brothers Johnny and Jimmy Rolfe worked sunrise to midnight for four months to get it ready.
The name came about after they plugged in “quaint,” “cozy” and “small place” into an online thesaurus. “Nook” was the best of the nouns that it spat out.
It’s a two-story bar, outfitted with midcentury furniture and framed with metal and wood. Its décor is modest in scope, informal in demeanor.
They’re forgoing a food program to focus just on drinks, relying on sandwiches catered from a nearby cafe while they work on infusions and homemade bitters. There’s a top shelf devoted to antique glassware and a separate shelf just for mescal.
The Nook plays down the candy-sweet concoctions and focuses more on bitter and boozy drinks that the craft-cocktail crowd favors.
A woodsy, herbaceous, artichoke cocktail of green chartreuse with Cynar liqueur is one of its standouts. Its Manhattan is tweaked with walnut bitters for a nutty-cocoa hint, a sipper for the last days of winter.
Its most ambitious drink, though, the smoked old-fashioned, wasn’t properly structured. It’s rye whiskey with orange oil, Bourdeaux-soaked cherries, cherry-bark-vanilla bitters and sugar. The finishing touch, a billowing cloud of Cherrywood smoke, was meant to add pizazz but only suffocated the overworked tipple even more.
The Nook is the most promising and ambitious cocktail bar in West Seattle since the late, great Feedback Lounge. The brothers want to be good enough so that the cocktail geeks in this part of town don’t drive to Ballard or Capitol Hill for their Last Word or their Vieux Carre fix. They don’t hit all the marks, but they aim high. Six weeks in, the duo is making a lot of noise in this part of town.
The Nook, 2206 California Ave. S.W., is open 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday and on Sunday, closed Mondays. Open Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to midnight (206-420-7414 and on Facebook; webpage coming soon).