Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Most Beautiful Bar: Essex

Not only is Essex one of the most quietly beautiful bars in Seattle, it's also one of the best bars in Seattle.  This is the way my dream bar would look, had I the resources to create one.  Marble bar and tables, candle-lit, the banquette sleek and horizontally paneled with burnished wood, patterned wallpaper, Essex feels historic, yet hip.  And too dim for photos. 

I loved it even more seeing they had a drink with the name of my favorite Yo La Tengo song: "Autumn Sweater." 

We ventured to Essex on one of those sopping wet, cold, miserable Seattle nights near Christmas, when the streets were empty of people, and we were the only ones to walk in at first.  

Our bartender, Niah, was excellent. You could tell he knew his craft and loved it.  He made Mr. Pants a fine Pisco Sour, and made me a personal concoction, created for an upcoming competition.  Among other beautiful things, it tasted of smoke, caramel, and the orange fragrance from the twist, and best of all it was not sweet.  I love cocktails, but most are too sweet for me. He gave us tastes of various brands of rye whiskey after I said it was one of my favorite spirits.

We have to go back to try the food, as we only had a small plateful of Doritos, scooped hilariously from a cut crystal bowl at the end of the bar. 

The chef was off that particular near-Christmas evening, so they weren't serving food, (other than those Doritos).  We were crushed.  We took a masochistic look at the menu anyway, to find beer-boiled soft pretzels, cured meats, cheeses and more.  Another couple of people came in and we all conversed.  Could have stayed there all night but for the lack of food.  The bartender suggested we call and get Thai food delivered, and we 
were sorely tempted. 

I'm only sorry we don't live closer, to venture to this glowing jewel of a place on other sopping rainy nights.   We would certainly be regulars. 

Highlights: Staff, ambiance, cocktails, must return for the food. 

Disappointments: Chef on vacation. Heard talk that they were scaling back their food offerings. 

Mr Pants: Happy, a tad tipsy. 

Essex on Urbanspoon

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