The Doctor’s Office
The most anticipated craft cocktail bar of 2020 opened its doors last week — that’s another way of saying you likely won’t be able to score a seat until April. But it’s not for everybody. No margaritas or fruity drinks here. The only citrus behind the bar gets used as twists on martinis. The bar focuses on classic cocktails that skew toward the boozy side. Think Manhattans and Old-Fashioneds. It’s a prescription for cocktail geeks and connoisseurs of spirits, especially Scotch and mescal.
This 12-seat bar with a food takeout window that opens till 2:30 a.m. looks like a nook along the alleyway of Tokyo’s famed Golden Gai. I doubt that’s a coincidence given this tiny bar is steeped in Japanese culture — down to the restroom, with wall decor inspired by artist Yayoi Kusama and its bidet electronic toilet seat. The shelves are studded with rare Suntory and Nikka whiskeys, and its snack menu is yakitori-inspired, a dozen options of charcoal-grilled meat and veggies on sticks ($6-$11, two skewers per order).
The dapper Matthew Powell, a physician and collector of rare spirits, is behind the cocktail den. He recruited two old hands to run the food-and-drink program: chef Rene Gutierrez, formerly of the late Blind Pig Bistro, and bar manager Keith Waldbauer, formerly of Vessel and Rumba.
The 500-spirit list, heavy on whiskeys and rum, also includes Japanese brandy and a few bottles supposedly from Howard Hughes’ personal collection. Cocktails are mostly three-ingredient tipples and highballs ($10-$14). And Waldbauer says the pre-batched gin and vodka martinis get stored at 20 degrees to ensure it will be “the coldest martini you ever had.”
1631 E. Olive Way, Seattle; 206-741-7428, tdosea.com; reservations highly recommended
Expect K-pop on the projector, and soju behind the bar. The latest project from Jun Pak of Musashi and his cousin Jae Shin is currently operating on limited hours but will rev up to six days a week in March. They plan to stay open till 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and take Mondays off.
Located in the Velocity Dance Building, the 3,000-square-foot Soju Anjo is one of the largest openings on Capitol Hill this year with a 30-bar seat in the front and a spacious back lounge (92 seats) that’s an all-ages venue. Soju Anjo, though, is more of a bar hangout than a family spot. The focus: pairing Korean spirit soju with a 30-item small-plate menu including dumplings, squid tempura, blood sausage and the rice cake tteokbokki. You also get complimentary banchan sides when you order soju or a beer. The cocktail menu will be soju-based as well. BTS and other K-pop videos will be blaring around the bar.
1621 12th Ave.; tentative hours are Sundays and Tuesdays-Thursdays from 5 p.m. to midnight and Fridays and Saturdays 5 p.m.-2 a.m.; website pending