Corks+Forks: Classic Breakfast & A Bloody Mary

Ballard’s oldest bar doesn’t look a day over 97, thanks to its satisfying brunch menu.

Some Seattleites might be appalled at the idea of pairing breakfast — the day’s most important meal — with an alcoholic beverage. Sometimes, however, the holidays call for it — the extensive celebration with abrasive relatives where a copious supply of wine is your only refuge, for example.

So, if imbibing in the early hours is your M.O., your destination should be Ballard, home to fisherman, grown-up Fremont hippies and (arguably) the city’s best farmers market. Not to mention the neighborhood’s food scene, which includes some of the best brunches, lunches, happy hours and late-night dining in the Seattle area. And it all had to start somewhere…

The Restaurant: Hattie’s Hat. When it opened in 1904, The Old Home became Ballard’s first watering hole. Today, the establishment is known as Hattie’s Hat, but the gist is still the same: tasty food, strong drinks and good company. Their brunch menu is currently available from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday, and selections range from savory (hashes and scrambles) to sweet (maple-glazed French toast and Swedish pancakes with powdered sugar). There is no such thing as a bad choice at this place.

The Dish: Aunt Harriet’s Country Breakfast ($10.45). For those who struggle to make a decision as the coffee sets in, this dish is ideal because it has it all: a fresh buttermilk biscuit with house-made sausage gravy, two eggs, two slabs of sausage or bacon — and lastly, hash browns, just in case half the farm isn’t enough and you need to eat from the garden, as well. Come hungry.

The Drink: Bloody Mary ($6.50). Undeniably, this brunch staple is among the best ways to nurse your fuzzy, fragile morning condition. Hattie’s set a precedent as one of the first Ballard bars to serve a Bloody Mary to customers. A century later, they stay innovative by using original ingredients like aquavit, a Scandinavian spirit flavored with spices and herbs (in addition to vodka), and good ol’ Campbell’s tomato soup to concoct the libation.

The essential flavor components (alcohol, tomato and Worcestershire sauce) are seasoned with Seattle’s own Demitri’s Bloody Mary mix, then garnished with celery, pickled green beans and asparagus, pepperoncini, raw oysters (don’t knock ’em ’til you try ’em) and olives (regular or stuffed with blue cheese). It’s a work of art.

Why It Works: Elementary — you can drink it while you wait for the meal to arrive. In fact, the tomato juice combines with all the garnishes to create something of a meal in itself. There’s a reason why the Bloody Mary is considered to be a perfect hangover remedy.

Hattie’s Hat |  5231 Ballard Ave. N.W., Seattle  |  (206) 784-0175