LUPEC Seattle Dismantling the Patriarchy…one drink at a time!

Ladies for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails, Seattle Edition!
We try to meet up once a month in the area's best cocktail bars to try tasty libations made of gin, rum, tequila, whiskey, etc.
Occasionally we throw a party and use our power to raise money for local charities.

Follow the fun!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

June LUPEC Homework Assignments

June's meeting was a homework assignment:

The mission: to pick one bar to revisit from our last 12months, one that you haven't been to since that meeting (or didn't get to join us at), and give us the scoop on what you had, what you thought, etc. of any of the following:

Zig Zag
Copper Gate
Naga Lounge
Liberty Bar
Suite 410

Denise, being the consummate professional at all things photography and writing turned hers in first:  

Old Cuban, Meet the New/Old Brazilian

I sidled up to the bar at Naga, in Chantanee and was glad to see Michael Kostin at the helm, handling a busy Monday evening crowd with typical charm and humor, and of course giving me well-deserved ribbing that it had been too long since I’d visited. Someone should send me to the chalkboard to write: “I will drink at Naga more often” over a hundred times, with a chaser of a neon-pink Cosmopolitan. But seriously, if I’m at a bar that’s spirits-smart, it’s usually bartender’s choice over what he or she is feeling like shaking up. This time I had a plan: Something Old, Something New. I just told Michael I was looking to have two cocktails, something classic and something newfangled. Maybe it was the “old” part of the cocktalian riddle that caught his fancy, but he presented me with these two offerings: the classic Old Cuban, and his latest riff, the Old Brazilian.

The Old Cuban is a rum-based cocktail, originated at the Pegu Club in NYC. It’s a bit like a Mojito with the use of lime and mint, but no seltzer or crushed ice – think of the Old Cuban as the Mojito’s older, more mature sibling who just wants their drink without a fuss. That’s not to say it’s not an elegant drink -- the Old Cuban was served up in a lovely chilled cocktail glass with a delicate mint leaf floating on top. Despite the name, which makes it sound a little like something Hemingway would have asked for with a snarl, it’s quite summery, refreshingly tart with the fresh lime, and the aged rum gives it a sweet richness. Fast forward to the “new” part of the themed cocktail combo – the new/Old Brazilian. Michael swapped out the rum with cachaça, along with some behind the scenes bar magic to modify the recipe to balance it out, and the resulting drink is really smooth and sophisticated. It doesn’t have as strong of a tart citrus edge as its Old Cuban counterpart; the cachaça mellows the drink out, lending a more rounded flavor. It’s actually a great combination to enjoy in that order – the Old Cuban, to sort of wake up your palate with the tartness, and then the Old Brazilian to help one ease into the evening.

As always, letting the bartender design the cocktails for the evening is never a bad thing, and even more of a reminder that yes, I need to get out more.

Well done Denise, A+ for you (and apologies if I mixed the photos up, let us know in the comments please)

New member Chelsea took this homework on as her very first LUPEC project!
je vois la vie en rose
Since sometime last year, I've had half of a page torn out of Sunset Magazine lying somewhere in the proximity of my desk/record player stand right next to it. I think that my Dad tore it out of an issue and then showed my Mom who then passed it on to me. This torn half-page details Sambar, a southeast Ballard bar located right next to Le Gourmand. The photo in the Sunset blurb shows two tables in a garden and the words tell of a cocktails and French-tinged loveliness. We were all intrigued, but I still hadn't been.

My recent acceptance into Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails (LUPEC) found me with a homework assignment: attend one of ten or so bars around Seattle known for well-crafted cocktails and report back. Sambar and I finally had an excuse to meet. Here is the result, illustrated by my photos.

The entrance reminds you that Sambar is closed on Sunday and Monday.

The weather was close to warm, so I took a seat in the garden, facing out to the street. Lined with roses and a variety of potted plants, you could be just about anywhere when you're ensconced there.

My favorite cocktails include rum, so I started with La Martinique, which had rhum agricole vieux (old sugar-cane based rum from Martinique), lime juice, and Clement Creole Shrubb (a rhum agricole-based orange liqueur). Served in a martini glass, it came with a large piece of orange peel, which you don't see everywhere. The drink was well-made, having that general citrus-y bite you get when you combine rum, citrus, and citrus-based liqueur. Could the glass have been a little bit more full? Hard to say, but I'd have ordered another one either way.

Oh, and I ordered the very French cheese board to accompany my cocktails which came with plenty of delicious bread.

I branched out for my second cocktail and tried the Freya, made of aquavit, kirsh, sour cherry, lemon, and maraschino. Aquavit on its own is not my thing (much to my aquavit-loving Father's chagrin) but I thought the other ingredients would balance it out nicely. They did! And it was nice to look at too - such a beautiful ruby color in the highball glass! The taste was fruity but not too fruity and sweet but not too sweet. A perfect refreshment for a late spring day.

I can do no comparing to past cocktails at Sambar, but these were as well-crafted as any others I've consumed around Seattle, including the Zig Zag. I'll visit Sambar again this summer and while the garden was lovely, I really enjoy watching my drinks being made, so next time I'll sit at the bar. But if Seattle ever sees a hot summer day this year, look for me back in the garden, cocktail in hand.

Sambar is located at 425 N.W. Market Street | Seattle, WA 98107

More photos of Sambar on my flickr page.
Kudos Chelsea for the great write up and photos! A+!
Leslie sent in her report about Mulleady's after heading there with Jan one night:

Travis was there last evening and brought over our aged negroni's.  Soooo smooth & delicious!  Travis said that it could be considered a Negroni for beginners as it's so smooth.  That was my favorite cocktail of the evening.  I don't even remember seeing it on the menu, either. 

I had high hopes for one of their 'sour's as you know I like a little egg in my drink sometimes.  The waitress said she doesn't get many orders for either of the ones on the menu, but said out of the 2 she would recommend the *Trinidad* -- Angostura, Lemon, Orgeat, Wild Turley 101.  Neither Jan nor I cared for it as it has some kind of strange spicing to it not unlike pumpkin spicing, which neither of us care for in drinks.  The waitress said that flavor could have come from the amount of angostura they use (which I normally like), or maybe their housemade Orgeat. 

My 3rd drink was the
London Calling
Plymouth Gin, Grapefruit, Juniper Syrup, Pechauds ... I was ready for something refreshing after the pumpkin spice-ish drink (which I didn't finish) and this hit the mark.  It had a good grapefruit flavor, that would make it a good choice for a brunch cocktail.

I had a taste of Jan's Manhatten...*Peaty Burns* – Scotch, Lagavulin, Dolin Sweet Vermouth, Benedictine, Pimento Dram.  It was quite strong and excellent...

Out of all the food dishes we tried, the Fried Oyster Po Boy was the winner of the night... Jan also really liked the pickled fruit and veggies.  I liked the curried Cauliflower dip with pita more than her.  We both liked the rhubarb goat cheese tart to some extent.  I want to go back to try their burger, which I've heard excellent things about and to try more cocktails!  Great place!

Thanks Leslie! I'm a big fan of the London Calling and the Aged Negroni also. A only for the absence of photos :)

Jan recounted her evening at Mulleady’s also:

On Friday night, Leslie and I went to Mulleady’s Irish Pub to do some serious LUPEC homework.  It was my second visit (the first being our LUPEC event) and Leslie’s first.  We arrived around 7:00, found a good table and were welcomed warmly by our server who went over the specials.  Leslie mentioned to her that we knew Wendy Miller and that she had suggested the cask-aged Negroni, so we both started off with that.  In a couple of minutes, the bartender came over to welcome us, chat for a bit about LUPEC, the cask-aged Negroni and to thank us for coming in.  The Negronis arrived and we thought they were delicious…a bit more round and smooth than a regular Negroni…sort of a Negroni for beginners as our server put it.

For nibbles, we ordered the Savory Rhubarb tart  with goat cheese, garlic and pine nuts (light, savory and quite tasty); the Curried Cauliflower dip (fine, but not very curryish); the Pot of Pickles (Leslie found these on the sweet side, but I thought they were good and quite tart—who’s right?) and then we shared an Oyster Po’boy (crunchy, perfectly fried oysters with a slightly spicy slaw--the hit of the evening!). 

We also ordered another round of drinks.  I had the Peaty Burns, made with Lagavulin Scotch, Dolin Sweet Vermouth, Benedictine, Pimento Dram and comes in an old-fashioned glass with a big, round ice ball in it.  I’d had it before and it was just as good this time as the last…smokey, sweet and strong, but perfectly balanced.  Leslie ordered the Trinidad Sour (Angostura, Lemon, Orgeat, Wild Turkey and an egg white) which was good but had a stronger taste of allspice than she cared for.  When we asked about it, we were told that there’s quite a large amount of the Angostura in it.   Last up was the London Calling:  Plymouth Gin, Grapefruit, Juniper Syrup, Pechauds which was very good and we both agreed would make a lovely brunch drink.  We also gave in to temptation at this point and ordered the fries with tomato jam and aioli…they were really good fries!

I really wish Mulleady’s was closer to my neighborhood.  It’s a great mix of casual and delicious pub fare, great cocktails and friendly, efficient service.  Can’t wait to go back, have another Peaty Burns,  a Po’ Boy and try the burger!
Jan also gets an A, should of had that camera with ya!

Karen Ann Kenyon did double duty by posting her review in the Seattle Cocktail Culture App comments regarding Zig Zag:

The ever charming and eminently professional Erik Hakkinen is now on Th-Su. Sad for those of us that enjoyed his endless supply of Simpsons quotes, stories from his travels, and extra attention on slower Mondays. But the Thursday crowd I witnessed last week seemed unfazed by Murray's departure and drinking some of the city's best cocktails with gusto. And I still got a couple of stories.

When your proteges can carry on without faltering, you know you've done well. Bravo Zulu, Murray!

Even though there are no pictures and we don't know what she drank she still gets an A cuz she plugged my App :p
Lauren chose an outing at Rob Roy with some poor ladies not lucky enough to be in LUPEC:

I was meeting some non-LUPEC friends for dinner at Tàvolata and they were wanting to go someplace for drinks first so, naturally, I suggested Rob Roy. We sat on one of the comfy couches up front and sampled cocktails from their Happy Hour menu. A couple of them ordered the Italian Buck and I ordered the Dark and Fernet-y. How could I resist? I loves me some Fernet. That turned out to be the girls favorite drink and they each ordered one for their second round. Me? I had my usual classic martini – which they do oh so well. I love Rob Roy.

Lauren gets an A even though I know she has been to Rob Roy both during the meeting there and multiple occasions before and after that because she did not divulge all our LUPEC secrets to non LUPEC ladies!
Our fabulous Venezuelan Valentina wrote:

June was LUPEC homework month. I'm still very shy when it comes to giving my impressions about cocktails, spirits and liqueur. So my report is going to be done within the limits of my comfort zone this time, and I'm going to tell the two things I discovered during June thanks to our assignment. The first one is that cocktails have been the ones helping me to fall in love with a flavor I did not like before: bitter. Growing up in the Caribbean area of South America, I was exposed to diverse flavors BUT despite this, bitterness has a very small space in my country's cuisine. I used to frown at it and stay away when it was present in food or beverages. Now, when I get that first kick of bitter, I let the liquid touch and linger around the roof of my mouth, then soak my taste buds to finally let it go while breathing in. I'm deeply in love with it, and that sentiment applies to food, too. One of my "bitter" but super sweet discoveries of this Summer was Cocchi Americano. Thanks to Artusi for that!

The second thing I discovered is that the more I dive into the cocktail world, the more I pace myself when going out to drink. Not that I used to get wasted before, but now I can live happily if I do two cocktails per night. I spend more time with my drink and enjoy it almost like a dinner course. Plus, I've incorporated drinking water into the dynamic which helps me not only to feel hydrate but to taste the drinks better. I'm not going to go to much into it because, as I said, I'm a novice.

Of course, I'm sharing more than words. I made some photos of my favorite drinks around Seattle and I'm passing them along. Enjoy y ¡salud!

Game (bourbon, Grand Marnier, Luxardo and Rachel's Ginger Beer) at La Bete in Capitol Hill. It's my favorite drink here, and one of my favorite in Seattle. After the cocktail is crafted, the bartender sprinkles it with a tiny bit of salt. The salt  falls onto the bottom of the glass so the last sip is salty and delicious. 
Star Gazer (rye, Lillet Blanc, hourse orange bitters) at La Bete in Capitol Hill. My husband's favorite (yes, he came along most of the times I was doing homework!)
Hot Charlotte at Tavern Law. Yes, I cheated on Zig Zag.

A for Valentina for although she didn't go to any of the places she was suppose to she takes amazing photos and has a way with words, even the ones that aren't natively hers!

And last but not lease Courtney says:

For the first of the month's LUPEC excursions, Tracy Meeker and I, along with several other ladies, descended upon the crew at Sambar. It seemed fitting as it was where last summer's homework took place, and also marked my one-year anniversary with the ladies who liquid lunch. To start the evening off, I ordered the Le Zefir, a combination of old Tom gin, Gran Classico and lavender bitters. The drink was a wonderful combination of bitter and sweet and the lavender petals sprinkled on top served as a sophisticated, aromatic  garnish. For my second drink, I put myself in Jay's capable hands and ordered a spirit-forward pisco drink. What I received highlighted the spirit very well and was also very tasty, though I can't exactly remember what the other ingredients were. And as far as food goes, we couldn't help ourselves and ordered some of Sambar's fabulous frites.

For my second outing, Tracy and I made our way to Magnolia to revisit Mulleady's Pub. My first drink was the Oaxacan Old Fashioned from their menu. It came with a sphere of ice and a lime covered in salt that was balanced over the mixture of agave nectar, mescal and mole bitters. As time passed, the salt added more depth and flavor to the cocktail. It was smoky and delicious. For my second drink I ordered the Red Hook, which is one of my favorites and it didn't disappoint. Tracy and I also ate dinner there and enjoyed a savory rhubarb tart, the homemade veggie burger, and some of Mulleady's homemade pickles that arrived at our table in their own mason jar. It was a lovely evening.

An A+ for Courtney and Tracy because even though there are no pictures they went to TWO places!!

I almost missed the note from Rachel, sorry about that lady!! Here's her account of Sambar:

As mentioned here before, I belong to LUPEC Seattle — the local branch of Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails. Our monthly outings are masterfully organized by Wendy Miller.
For June, in lieu of our traditional LUPEC gathering, she assigned homework: visit any of the bars LUPEC visited in the last year.
Sambar stood out from her list, but led me to question whether it was really a year ago that I visited last. Turns out, yes, it had been too long. So, when Courtney suggested a few of us gather for a study session, I jumped at the offer.
We convened soon after our workdays, as the sun was still pretty high. I took notes:
- My warm up — Noir Satiné. Rye Whiskey, Strega, Cocchi Vermouth, Black Tea, Lemon Bitters. This worked. I liked the hint of black tea and lemon. The complex combination defeated lingering negative side effects of a challenging workday. Our merry little group was rolling right along.
- When it was time to order again, my eyes drifted to the food menu, despite original intentions to the contrary. I’d coveted Valentina’s Croque-Monsieur across the table, and ham and grilled cheese turned out to be a delicious accompaniment for the next cocktail.
- Clémence. Genever, Pineau-des-Charentes, Apricot, Créme de Pêche, Lemon, Pastis. The Genever and Pastis bookends in the listing jumped out, and when the drink arrived, it was a refreshing hit with the whole table.
- There was opportunity for more, but responsibility was calling my name.
- Then, right after the tab was settled, I noticed several no-octane options that I would have chosen had I noticed. Ah, next time.
And there will be a next time, especially with Courtney, Tracy, Valentina, Cameo, and Heather. Thank you, ladies, for the great evening!

Rachel gets an A+ cuz her write up and pictures are AWESOME and she has not bitched me out for missing her entry on the first go round :)

Well done ladies, I don't know what your rep was like in school but you're all honor students here. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and hopefully encouraging others to get out there and revisit the places that sometimes drop off our radar for whatever the reason.