2011 MUST DRINK: The City’s Best Cocktails (West of 520)

Photo: Jonathan Bishop

Try these top five sip sensations the next time you hit the town.

We at Seattleite love a good cocktail (or two). But with seemingly endless sampling options out there among the Seattle and Eastside scene, it’s difficult to know where to focus our energy on any given evening. And we’re certain there are countless other avid cocktailers who face the same dilemma. This is why we embarked on a mission to find the most delectable drinks out there right now. We know: It’s a rough job, but someone has to do it.

We’re not talking the best bars or the most over-the-top bartenders. It’s down to basics: the must drink, it’s-so-good-when-it-hits-your-lips cocktails currently on the Seattle scene (stay tuned for our Eastside results), both on the menu and off (yeah, we’re sort of a big deal). Now enjoy, in no particular order, our five favorites. Really, go enjoy them.

The Bergamot Blazer from Mistral Kitchen ~ Photo: Jonathan Bishop


Created by Mistral Kitchen bartender Andrew Bohrer (Not on the menu)

  • Bookers Bourbon
  • Earl Grey
  • Elderflower Syrup
  • Lemon Zest
  • Served in a teacup with a lemon zest and small cookies adjoining on the accompanying saucer.  Hot.

Chick sip or dude drink – we’re not sure, but whatever it is, you have to try it. And make a point to watch it being made, which is half the fun. First, the bourbon is lit on fire then transferred, as blue flames viciously dance, from one glass to the next. Take in this bravado fire show (all the while realizing that this will soon be going down your throat) before it’s all served up in a dainty tea glass with a side of cookies.

Perhaps it’s this juxtaposition of moods that makes us love this drink so much – or it’s simply the fragrant flavor that leaves you feeling warm warm warm. (The cookies don’t hurt either.)

* If The Bergamot Blazer doesn’t appeal to you, instead request a cocktail made using the hand-shaved ice Mistral Kitchen uses in many cocktails. The ice has a much cooler temperature than normal machine-made ice, and Mistral Kitchen is one of very few places in the country preparing cocktails using this frozen specialty.

Mistral Kitchen | Downtown | 2020 Westlake Ave., Seattle, WA 98121 | (206) 623-1922


Created by Tavern Law bartender Ian Cargil (On the menu)

  • Calvados
  • Lillet
  • Gomme syrup
  • Bitters
  • Ardbeg scotch
  • Served up in a cocktail glass. Cold.

The colder weather calls for this surprising sipper. The drink begins with a firm earthy and peaty taste from the Ardbeg Scotch (cited on its web site as “perhaps the most peaty malt whiskey in the world”) and slowly changes flavor gears to a semi-sweet apple for the finish. An excellent starter drink for those looking to enter the world of scotch.

* If scotch isn’t your speed, even the most fussy taste buds will find enlightenment on the Tavern Law menu. The date and place the cocktail was created are listed for every drink, making for a fun sort of tour down memory lane (or loss of memory lane, depending how many you sample).

Tavern Law | Capitol Hill | 1406 12th Ave. Seattle, WA 98122 | (206) 322-9734

Merci from Luc ~ Photo: Jonathan Bishop


Created by Luc bartender Antony Bock (Not on the menu)

  • Grapefruit
  • Vodka
  • St. Germain
  • Rosewater
  • Pernod
  • Lime twist
  • Currents
  • Served up in a cocktail glass with a lime twist and fresh currents. Cold.

French for “thank you,” the Merci will have you saying your thanks only a few sips into your glass. It’s a refreshing option with a pleasant lighter taste with bittersweet notes and a smooth finish.

Plus, the currents in the bottom of the glass make for a fun post-drink nibble.

Luc | Madison Valley | 2800 E. Madison St. Seattle, WA 98112 | (206) 328.6645


Created by Sun Liquor bartender Chelsea (Not on the menu)

  • Single barrel rum
  • Lime juice
  • Angostura Bitters
  • Splash of Grenadine
  • Ramazzotti
  • Nutmeg
  • Lemon twist
  • Served up in a cocktail glass with a lemon twist. Cold.

Concoction-creator, Chelsea, doesn’t have a moniker for this magnificent drink. When asked to give us a name she shrugged her shoulders as if to say “I just make the cocktails; I don’t name them.” And if she keeps making cocktails like this one, we’ll be ok with that. ‘2 parts away from a San Juan’ is her best description – and what you should ask for (with a nod to Seattleite, of course) when you order it.

As a preview: This one starts off with a bold citrus flavor that is quickly balanced with a touch of spice. Your lips will pucker at first, but the spice will keep your drink as close to your mouth as possible — until there is nothing left but a lemon twist.

* If this drink doesn’t excite you, simply give the bartender a “concoction” hint, whether it’s your preferred cocktail spirit or even your current mood (dark and dreary with a splash of Grenadine?), and they’ll finely tune something just for you.

Sun Liquor | Capitol Hill | 607 Summit Ave. East Seattle, WA 98102 | (206) 860-1130

Mitzvot from Cicchetti ~ Photo: Jonathan Bishop


Created by the bartenders of Serafina and Cicchetti Restaurants (On the menu)

  • Vodka
  • Pomegranate liqueur
  • Lemon juice
  • Maraschino liqueur
  • Cardamom bitters
  • Prosecco
  • Lemon twist
  • Served up, with a lemon twist. Cold.

It may strike you as a bit of a fruity concoction, but on the contrary. Multiple layers of tang, tart and spice make this number the perfect, well-balanced drink. And the Prosecco floater fuses the drink together in a fantastic bubbly way that will have you wanting more — very quickly.

Cicchetti | Eastlake | 21 East Boston St. Seattle, WA 98102 | (206) 859-4155

Don’t agree with our selections? Or have an even better cocktail worth sharing? Let us know. Don’t worry, we’re not too proud to eat (or drink) our words.