Gotta love the Dutch, they're so practical about things. Want to get alcoholics off the street and out of the parks? Give them jobs that pay partly with beer.
Practical solutions without moralizing. We might want to try that in this country sometime. But of course, our founding Puritans, whose descendents are still fucking this country up, fled the Netherlands . . . . so Dutch ideas are probably unAmerican. . .
Today is the 80th anniversary of repealing alcohol prohibition. Folks are celebrating all over the city. But some of the parties are in neighborhoods where children exist, with their watchful child eyeballs. So nine treatment professionals including Richard Catalano, a professor at the UW's school of social work, told the city to stop this menace. They asked the city to shut down these celebrations. If society acknowledges that prohibition was a failure, that cocktails are delicious, and that adults can responsibly enjoy a booze buzz, that could poison the minds of Seattle youth.
There's no word that Catalano did that—not for booze.
However, this week is also the one-year anniversary of the repeal of pot prohibition. And to celebrate, Stranger columnist Ben Livingston got a permit for a pot party on December 6 under the Space Needle. The party is out of public view in a big tent, behind fencing, and safely sequestered behind a beer-garden-style moat. Still, Catalano and eight other treatment professionals did ask the Seattle Center, the mayor, and the city council to shut down the party that celebrates repealing pot prohibition.
"Not only will this public event be in violation of state law, Seattle Center is a poor location for the party considering it takes place during Winterfest, a family-friendly event," they wrote.
The group includes Richard Catalano, director of a UW research center that will advise the state on drug-prevention grants generated by revenue from pot taxes. They argue that state law bans smoking in "public places," Initiative 502 bans pot use on public property, and pot-tolerant parties should be 1,000 feet from schools and parks.
So it's illegal and terrible for fambwies!?!! No, as Ben explains. The smoking ban in question doesn't apply outdoors, the pot will be kept out of plain sight to conform with legal standards, and—for fuck's sake—that family-friendly Winterfest event that must be protected from a pot tent?
It has beer gardens.
Maybe Catalno and his gang are upset about the alcohol parties—maybe they tried to shut down those family-friendly Winterfest beer gardens and all the other beer gardens at Seattle Center—but I doubt it. Ending alcohol prohibition was good for society, even fambwies! So using children as weapons in a war for dry Victorian purity would make them unconvincing windbags. If they want to be credible, they know they can't talk that way about alcohol. But they haven't learned that about pot, apparently. They are peddling anti-pot bullshit, crushing their own credibility, and teaching kids to ignore people like them. That's too bad. Kids shouldn't use pot. Catalano and company should keep their powder dry so they're actually credible when it counts, not attacking adults celebrating prohibition repeal day. Which is worth celebrating, for booze and pot.
What to do, as bitter weather casts a gloom over the entire city? Drink, naturally. Since Washington began licensing craft distilleries in 2008, the local industry has exploded—more than 100 new booze-makers are now among us. Most distillers allow you to sample their booze for free and buy anything you like on-site, perfect for gifts or for filling up a flask as you face the ghastly prospect of holiday shopping. Of the local distilleries I've visited recently, these were the best products I tried so far.
Tucked away on an industrial avenue in the neighborhood for which it's named, Old Ballard Liquor Co. is a one-woman operation. Owner and distiller Lexi (who mysteriously refuses to reveal her last name to press) welcomes a steady trickle of guests to her little warehouse three days a week with plenty of sass and a generosity of information and attention. Within minutes of eloquently and engagingly explaining the colossal difference between raspberry-infused vodka and vodka distilled from raspberries, the distiller also goes on a tangent about her obscure dream of a Japanese-Swedish food-fusion concept. Lexi lived in Sweden for long enough to develop an affinity for the culture and culinary traditions, extending to her latest project (and my favorite of the selection sampled)...
People! Hillman City is really a place. I keep encountering people who have never heard of it and think that I'm making it up (people besides the two-block-radius house-arrest crowd here at The Stranger, even!). Hillman City is south of Columbia City, and a new bar called Union Bar is opening there today. It has a logo (see right!) of two strong-looking hands clasped in arm wrestling–style, and its motto is "Where labor rests." They've got pub grub, eight beers on tap, sports on TV, movie nights, trivia nights, occasional live music, karaoke, and board and card games, plus happy hour, to help you with your resting.
Goldy is going to check out Union Bar tonight, but he refuses to go to Eyman's Pizza because of Tim Eyman (who is completely unrelated to the pizzeria, so feel free to chastise Goldy in comments).
The winner will get to be, or choose (with permission, of course) an official Stranger Drunk of the Week. The winner will also get TWO FREE TICKETS to the opening night of Priscilla Queen of the Desert: The Musical, which will be playing at The Paramount Theatre November 12-17th.
Buy tickets and read more about Priscilla Queen of the Desert: The Musical here. Play to win! And win the fun!
A reader sends a damn good question:
Hi Stranger Staff!
I am one in an office of about 70 people who are furloughed. While we usually spend our days answering cancer-related questions for the public, we are reduced to aimlessly hoping we can go back to work soon and cursing this mindless shutdown.
Obviously, this involves day-drinking.
Are there any bars that are offering furlough specials? We have no guarantee that our wages will be reimbursed, so are thrifty but need to collectively drown our sorrows.
Anyone know of any? (Meanwhile, Alex and friends, Cocktail Compass can definitely help with the happy hours that are currently closest to your cursing.)
It's that time of the year again—the time when we gather in the opulently upholstered Fireside Room at the Sorrento to drink and read and sit by the fire and occasionally stare into the middle distance while Will Bielawski plays the harp (from 6 to 8 p.m.—the party itself goes until 9). If you've never been to the silent reading party before, you may read about it here. Arrive early, or you may end up sitting on the not-quite-as-opulently-upholstered floor.
Sorrento Hotel, Fireside Room, 900 Madison St, first Wednesday of the month, 6 until 9 p.m. There are drink specials. It's all ages and free.
I felt like such a jerk. More than a year ago, while judging a pie-baking contest at Capitol Hill's High 5 Pie, I was sitting at a table surrounded by local food connoisseurs—well-known bakers, cafe owners, and food editors—when someone chimed, "Does anyone want something to drink? Water? Coffee? Rachel's Ginger Beer?"
While the others immediately started cooing—"Rachel's Ginger Beer!" some cried in unison, fighting back the urge to climb over the table to get their hands on that bottle just one second faster—I looked around and said, "What's that?"
"WHAT'S THAT?" someone asked with utter horror, as a cold brown bottle was handed to me. "Here, drink!"
My mouth instantly puckered, and my face tingled all through my cheeks. I even felt a little tickle on the tip of my nose. At first it was sour, then sweet—and the wave of cool liquid burned, delightfully, as it washed down my throat. It was, perhaps, the best drink I've sipped—a perfect, simple blend of ginger, lemon, sugar, and water that was unlike any ginger beer or ginger ale I've had before.
Galleycat reports that a new scotch ad features Charles Bukowski reading one of his most-quoted poems, which most people refer to as the "don't do it" one:
Hey! Do you own or manage a bar in Seattle? Then pay attention! (If you do not, please feel free to carry on with the rest of your day as planned.) A new installment of Cocktail Compass, our semi-annual happy hour guide, will be hitting the streets next month—now would be a great time to make sure all your happy hour information is correct!
Just head over to the Cocktail Compass website right here. If you already have a listing but just want to update the happy hour times and/or specials, click "Update Info" at the top. If you have a location that's not yet in the guide, click "Add an Establishment." Just fill out the necessary information and you're good to go!
If you don't have a bar or restaurant but do like cheap booze and/or food, you can download our happy hour app FOR FREE right here. It's available for both iPhone and Android devices.
As Megan announced earlier this week, a few dedicated Sloggers who like to drink and have good social skills have organized an unofficial, off-brand Slog Happy tonight—what I'm calling a Slag Happy.
And you're all invited, provided that you also like to drink and have good-to-middling social skills!
The fun starts at 7:00 pm tonight at Barca on Capitol Hill. It's a great chance to meet some of Slog's best commenters. And while I can't speak for all my coworkers, I will be there delicately slamming shots of Lillet like a lady. Come join the fun!
Important Update: Um, I just learned that the slang term for "slag" is a lewd or promiscuous woman. I didn't know that! Just to clarify, none of the organizers of tonight's happy hour are promising to deliver on either of those things. I just liked the word "slag." Slag slag slag. Slag.
According to all the teevee stations. I guess that's one reason to like Tully's!? I will go ahead and admit that this news makes me happy. So much more cred than a giant "T." It's supposed to be back up there in November.
Via social media
Friends! Some of your fellow Sloggers have organized an unofficial Slog Happy this Friday at Barca, at you're all invited! The fun starts at 7 pm at Capitol Hill's Barca (1510 11th Ave) and it's a good chance to meet some of Slog's commenters face-to-face (BE NICE). If you're a Facebooker, you can view more info and RSVP at the event page.
TODAY is Eat Out for Country Doctor!
Country Doctor Community Health Centers have been treating the uninsured and underinsured of Seattle since 1971—they are great people doing great work. Just eat (or drink!) out at any of the participating restaurants—including tons of Capitol Hill's best places like Altura, Monsoon, Liberty, Mamnoon, Machiavelli, Spinasse, Wandering Goose, and MORE, click on the flyer at right—today, and a portion of your bill will go toward keeping the downtrodden unsick. (Or, hey, you can also just make a donation.)
More ways to feel good while eating/drinking may be found RIGHT THIS WAY, in the Chow Calendar!
Ever since Capitol Hill's beloved Velo bike shop moved downtown, everyone in the two-block radius has been on tenterhooks about what will move into the space on the southwest corner of 11th and Pine. We heard it was going to be a bar... so would it have retro-tavern decor and serve hamburgers? Would it look like an old-timey men's club and serve cocktails made with bitters made by local/organic/seasonal/artisanal/wood-fired bitters-makers? Would it be a gigantic neo-German beer hall, or a fancy Mexi-palace (either in a darkly contemporary or lots-of-tile style)? Would it be steam-punk-esque with an admirable collection of IPAs? Would it be olde-west-style with wine and/or batched cocktails on tap? WOULD IT HAVE AN AMPERSAND IN THE NAME? WOULD THERE BE TAXIDERMY??? PLATES OF CURED MEATS?????
Now Patrick Gabre-Kidan—formerly front-of-house/business-side-guy at the Book Bindery and various Ethan Stowell enterprises, and by all accounts a stand-up guy—has let us in on what is going to happen.
So the idea was simply to open a bar. Everything has gotten overconceptualized these days... The only thing that we want to do is have fun at what we do. I've always been SHOCKED by how many eating/drinking establishments forget what the basic function of their business is: hospitality... It happens all the time and we don't want that to happen to us. Be kind, be courteous, be attentive, be fun. That's it. We will, from time to time, have a DJ or do something wacky, or throw a fun party, but the foundation of the concept is to host a good time for all every day—which isn't a concept at all. I'm so excited to work with my homies and get my friends faded!
Gabre-Kidan's homies in the enterprise include Emma Schwartzman (server/bartender at places like Big Mario's, How to Cook a Wolf, Sitka & Spruce), Chris Rice (former Tavolata & Rione bartender and current Summer Dog owner with Schwartzman), and Jacob Mihoulides & IL (no surname) (builders involved with Tavolata, How to Cook a Wolf, Frank's Oyster Bar, more, who Gabre-Kidan has known since high school).
They are working with the name Big Fun, but, he says, "We may change the name if something else strikes our fancy." A straw poll in the office finds Stranger staffers very on board with the non-concept concept, but not so hot on the name. Maybe we can make some suggestions in comments.
Also, Anna Minard says, "I hope they can incorporate the hot dog boat [that's Summer Dog]. Dry-dock it in there somewhere." AGREED.
Then click play and explode with joy!
WINE LOVERS is the world's first WINE TASTING MUSICAL, a unique interactive experience in which the audience members enjoy a tasting of six delightful wines while watching a musical praising the joys of wine and love.
Thank you, Slog tipper Colonel Bacon.
But if you wanna stay out of the emergency room... you might wanna avoid Budweiser, Steel Reserve, Colt 45, Bud Ice and Bud Light. A boozer can't be too careful, right?
Talking points? I don't need no stinking talking points! Well, I don't need 'em most of the time...
I was on MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes last night. While I wouldn't normally work up a page of talking points before appearing on a cable news program—I usually don't have a problem running my big mouth—I just got back from two and a half weeks in Berlin and I'm pretty seriously jet lagged. (Check out the bags under my eyes.) So I thought it best to organize my thoughts before last night's showdown with Chris. I worked up these talking points about the vodka boycott with Matt Fikse-Verkerk and they cover a lot more ground than I was able to cover in the three minutes I had on All In. So I'm posting 'em here on Slog.
Why did you decide to do launch this boycott?
The boycott of Russian vodkas wasn't launched by me. A lot of people are involved and a lot of people are backing this effort. The boycott was spontaneous and got off the ground in a lot of places all at once—activists in NYC, SF, and Seattle all had the idea nearly at the same time to push this, and everyone got to work. Harvey Fierstein's NYT opinion piece was a real catalyst, but it was the constant drumbeat of horror stories coming out of Russia that kicked things into high gear. Every day we are hearing more and more about legal persecution, abuse, beatings, and worse—all sanctioned by the Russian government.
Why boycott Russian Vodka? Isn't that some frivolous gay cliche?
Boycotts are never the end of an issue, they are the start of an issue. And vodka is Russia's most iconic product—and the companies that make it and sell it have deep ties in Russia. The point of this boycott—the point of any boycott—is to 1) draw the world' s attention to the issue 2) get people motivated and engaged and doing something and then 3.) hopefully, and in time, make the situation better for LGBT people in Russia. This is just getting started and is only going to grow the more we hear about the daily horrors of life in Russia for LGBT people.
Has the boycott been successful?
The boycott has been a huge success. Media all over the world are now covering this topic for the first time, and the vodka boycott is what initially got the international media's attention. Organizations and analysts and activists agree on this. The vodka boycott worked and it is still working.
But isn't Stoli a Latvian vodka? That's what the company that makes Stoli—SPI—is claiming. Stoli is Latvian?
Steven Stone is a Boeing aerospace engineer who specializes in preventing "flutter" in planes, a deceptively adorable term for the event when a structure basically vibrates until it destroys itself. He is the founder of Sound Spirits Distillery, which holds the honor of being the first distillery to open in Washington State after Prohibition. In his stills in Interbay, he uses unusual ingredients and 18th-century distillation techniques to make spirits that are exceptionally smooth, complex, and unlikely to vibrate until they destroy themselves. You can stop by the distillery for samples and meet Steven's friendly cat, CHO, short for "Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen," the elements that make up ethyl alcohol.
How does being an engineer influence the way you run your distillery?
There are always problems that arise with production processes. I can use my skills as an engineer to troubleshoot. Fermentation and distillation are heavily influenced by basic chemistry.
What was the first liquor you made?
I started with vodka, because it's the base of so many other products. It's even the gateway to whiskey. Vodka comes out 190 proof. Whiskey is distilled to a lower proof, and that's where the flavor comes from. The spirit is drawn in and out of the wood [in the barrel], and a natural filtering takes place. Depending on the level of char on the barrel, you'll get different oaky flavors. One theory about the original use of charred barrels is they were reusing barrels that had contained something nasty.
If you didn't know that Joe Shlichta was a born painter—someone who's had a brush in his hand since he was a kid, through art schools in LA and Seattle, and through a decades-long art career that has spanned from New York to Seattle—you might simply think he was a born bartender. As a younger man, he thought becoming a book illustrator would be practical, so he moved to New York and made it there. But after four books, he discovered that he couldn't pretend being an illustrator was the same as being an artist. He gave up commercial art, and to support his fine-art work, he took up bartending—starting at the Olive Garden in Times Square.
Bartending became his entirely unintentional second career. He even worked as a bartender at a chic restaurant in Buenos Aires when he was stranded there without money during one of his extended traveling interludes. In Seattle, he's been at various establishments, including Ileen's Sports Bar (now Julia's) when it was the only place on Capitol Hill serving hard liquor, and the swank Waterfront Seafood Grill (now AQUA by El Gaucho) on sparkling Pier 70. He's kept his two lives at a healthy remove from each other, showing his dreamy, atmospheric paintings at Seattle's Fetherston Gallery while, nowadays, manning the bar at Ristorante Machiavelli. (Another Seattle artist who is a prominent bartender: Sean M. Johnson, at Tommy Gun.)
Get in while the rates are still low. Train station is to be complete in 2016. Highline Bar & Castle are both vacating. 10,085 Sq. Ft with balcony along Broadway! Capitol Hill is the densely populated neighborhood in Seattle!
Tell me about the history of beer-making in your family.
That picture on the wall is from a family reunion. My grandmother is sitting on the keg there. My great grandmother was a brewer. My uncles were brewers who made bathtub gin during Prohibition.
What's the most unusual beer you have on tap?
Most of mine are classic styles. Our seasonal blonde ale is only available in-house, not even to take out in growlers. It's made with gin-spent juniper berries. When I took a distilling class at Batch 206 Distillery, I asked for a bag of juniper berries they had used to make gin, and they said, "Well, you can have them, but not the bag." [Laughs] I said I could use my own bag.
So there are Senate hearings going on this week on whether or not the London Metal Exchange and other banks worked behind the scenes to hold aluminum supplies, driving up costs. Big banks allegedly behaving in underhanded ways—what is this, 2008?
Says MSN Money:
Tim Weiner, a global risk manager at MillerCoors, told the committee Tuesday that banks including Goldman Sachs (GS +0.01%), JP Morgan Chase (JPM +0.19%) and others gave warehouse owners approval to sit on huge stockpiles of aluminum, create artificial shortages and leave prices "inflated relative to the massive oversupply and record production."
MillerCoors, a U.S. joint venture between SABMiller (SAB) and MolsonCoors (TAP -0.63%), puts about 36 million barrels of the 59 million barrels of beer it produces each year into cans. As overhead goes, Weiner says, metal is the company's riskiest investment.
According to the article, "the cost of a six-pack jumped from $3.92 to $5.05 between 2001 and 2011, the last year for which information is available." Canned-beer drinkers, rise up! The affordability of your television-side digestif is at stake!