First Call: The Reservoir


Photo by 'Lil Scoop.

A weekly Voracious feature in which we walk into a bar unannounced and ask the bartender to make us his or her favorite drink.

What: Mai-Tai.

Where: The Reservoir, 8509 Roosevelt Way NE, MAPLE LEAF.

Who: Tracy the night bartender.

Why: Because the Pistons were on, and I hadn't seen my buddy Chris, who lives across the street, for months.

What the fuck? A mai-tai? At the Reservoir? Did hell freeze over? Did heaven go up in flames? Does Ice Cube star in pussy kids' movies? Oh, wait, he does. Damn. And Tracy, I have to admit, makes a damn good mai-tai. So why so antsy in m'pantsy? Because I remember what the Reservoir once was.

The Reservoir once was a grungy, beer-only neighborhood tavern, catering mainly to rumpled regulars and unconcerned with decor. If you weren't a familiar face, people looked at you funny. There are still regulars at the Reservoir, but nowadays, they mostly evaporate by sundown, clearing the way for a younger, mostly male crowd that likes to play shuffleboard and rounds out its Maple Leaf run by hitting the nearby 5th Ave. Tav.

The Rez and the 5th Ave. could each probably still be classified as dives, but only by a whisker. And not ten years ago, they definitely would have been classified as dives. What they've done recently is added liquor, improved the food (the Rez serves up a mean tray of chicken gizzards), cleaned the urinals, and slapped on a fresh coat of paint -- mostly darker earth tones. If this is a reflection of the neighborhood's general climb up the income ladder, it's also reflective of a general trend among Northeast Seattle drinking establishments to opt for a more clean-shaven look. I mean, the Wedgwood Alehouse (formerly the Wedgwood Inn) and Fiddler's Inn used to be shitholes, and look at 'em now. And don't even get me started on the Rav Tav.

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