Cocktail Hour

New and newish venues to tipple.

LICOROUS Opened: June Licorous' bar offers a full lineup of house-infused liquors (think vodka infused with chocolate nibs). The only thing better than the creative cocktails at Johnathan Sundstrom's glass-accented, chic new bar are the bites you can pair them with. Learn how well the kaffir lime sour, made with kaffir lime-infused vodka, pairs with a few bites of tuna tartare, or try the Joyous Ginger cocktail with the cured beef and frisée salad. 928 12th Ave., 325-6947. OLIVER'S TWIST Opened: November Half of the house drinks on the menu are named for characters from Oliver Twist, and half are true cocktail classics, listed on the menu with pertinent historical notes. The Fagin is named for a thief, but with vodka, lemon, cucumber, and a hint of licorice, it's delicious, so who cares? Even the art on the wall across from the bar is a modern take on Dickensian deco—contemporary paintings of various fauna might be a PETA-approved twist on taxidermy. 6822 Greenwood Ave. N., 706-6673. SAMBAR Opened: 2004 Walking into Sambar's tiny, artsy interior is like being a guest in a French friend's very well-stocked and creatively lit living room. The house cocktail list showcases French favorites like Lillet and Dubonnet, and also features French-style eaux de vie made right here in the Pacific Northwest. Try the pear sour, with Clear Creek Pear Brandy, lemon juice, sugar, and a pear nectar, which has enough true pear flavor to make you wonder why you didn't have to chew your drink. 425 N.W. Market St., 781-4883. SUITE 410 Opened: 2005 Unless you're already a suave young male banker type with a penchant for the color black, stainless steel, and sports scores, Suite 410 has something to teach everyone. The signature drink list pays homage to the classics and spices up stylish favorites. Try the pisco sour, made with real whipped egg whites, or the Hot Mango Love, which is what all the twentysomething arm candy is drinking. 410 Stewart St., 624-9911. VESSEL Opened: October Like the ultramod yet somehow classy interior, Vessel's cocktail list gives a nod to the past: It emphasizes old-school cocktail ingredients like rye and a full slate of bitters, and has an educated staff that leaves you feeling like you've been to bartending school. Drinks like the Vessel 75, with bourbon, Peychaud's, orange zest, and a puffy float of maple syrup foam, might just convince you that sickly sweet vodka drinks are a thing of the past. 1312 Fifth Ave., 652-5222. ZIG ZAG CAFE Under current ownership since 2002 Zig Zag will teach you what a welcoming, no- pretense Seattle bar can provide: a relaxed atmosphere; a deep house cocktail list with full, adult, and sometimes challenging flavors; and highly proficient bartenders. Ben Dougherty, for one, knows the characteristics of the bar's myriad contents well enough to design the perfect drink just for you, and he'll probably remember what you liked the next time you walk in. Zig Zag's gimmick is that it has no gimmicks, which is refreshing in a bar scene rife with one-upmanship. 1501 Western Ave., No. 202, 625-1146. Jessica Thomson

 
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