The most interesting cuisine on Phinney Ridge, with an ambitious bar program.

Share story

An herbal fizz to unclog my pores. A coffee cocktail as a pick-me-upper. I’ve been pushed all sorts of boozy concoctions purported to be one kind of elixir or another over the years.

But I’ve never had a cocktail that promised to boost my sexual performance — until now. Or at least that’s how I interpreted the rye cocktail served at Fu Kun Wu, the apothecary bar on Phinney Ridge, located inside the restaurant Thaiku.

The menu boasts that this whiskey cocktail has “libido-boosting properties.”

“You mean like natural Viagra?” I asked the bartender.

“Umm, if you want to look at it like that,” she laughed.

Heck yeah, I want to look at it like that. “I’ll have one of those.”

The bar/restaurant celebrates its second year on Phinney Ridge this month, after moving away from the nightlife drag in Ballard and reinventing itself as an authentic Northern Thai-inspired cuisine spot for North Seattleites.

Its cocktail program, though, remained the same, which is too bad because the drinks could use some tweaking. Those medicinal-mixed drinks were a mixed bag; more on the sweet side — from a bourbon Manhattan done with Yohimbe tincture to give some “stimulant and aphrodisiac” benefits to the aforementioned Viagra-like drink, the Chiang Rye, that tasted like liquid dessert.

Whether these love potions are effective is hard to say. Its bar is more of a waiting area for working couples ordering takeout than a drinking den to schmooze or flirt.

This is a better happy hour when the weather warms up and your party can spread out at the tables out front. For now, its dining room is a better happy-hour option than its tiny, dimly lit bar.

The staff, mostly Thai, is quick with a smile if not always with a well-spoken English explanation of the options. But no worries. The bar food is all good here, such as the snappy prawn ceviche cut with lime and fish sauce and amped up with pungent garlic. Those less adventurous can opt for some herbaceous, citrusy flank steak or grilled pork sausage with sides of ginger and peanuts.

Thaiku’s bright, sharp, clarion flavors are the most interesting food in the neighborhood these days.

And just when we were about to give up on the cocktails for Thai beers, I eyed “the Emerald,” a smoky variation of the Last Word, every Seattle cocktail geek’s favorite drink. It’s mescal, chartreuse, Maraschino liqueur and lime. Earthy and pleasantly sour, it was the closest thing to a magic potion that I had all night.

Fu Kun Wu at Thaiku, 6705 Greenwood Ave. N., Seattle, offers happy hour daily from 4-6 p.m. with $2 off bar food and house cocktails and $1 off on Thai beers (206-706-7807 or thaiku.com).