First Call: Stumbling Monk Brings Joy to the Sad Bastards

First Call is a weekly Voracious feature in which we walk into a bar and ask the bartender to make us his or her favorite drink.
If Tom Waits was writing a song in Seattle, he'd do it at the Stumbling Monk (1635 East Olive Way). The Capitol Hill tavern's crowd on a weeknight is mostly guys with facial hair in sweaters talking about girls in a sad bastard kind of way, if sad bastards spent more time laughing about their follies.

Hanging back, surveying the scene, offering the occasional insight, and keeping glasses filled with amber liquid is barkeep Christopher Strode. Leaning against the back of the bar, arms across his chest, it takes awhile to draw him into the First Call game.

Strode: *nod*

Voracious: "Hi! I'm writing a column about what bartenders actually drink. I need you to pour me your favorite."

Strode: *ambivalent nod*

He slowly saunters over and feels out the situation a little more. "I would drink any one of those 70 beers," he says, gesturing to the long list of foreign and domestic bottles in the refrigerator behind him.

After being informed he has to pick the one, he looks again. "I'm feeling something sour," he says after a pause, finally selecting the St. Louis Lambic Gueuze Fond Tradition by a Belgian brewer with the unpronounceable name Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck.

"It's really delicious," Strode explains, slowly becoming more talkative. "And it's sour, which is good, I have the sniffles."

Photos by M.P.
Lambic is good for what ails you.
Strode also claims his favorite beer (at least at the moment) is full of vitamins. That may or may not be true, but this is the perfect beer the next time you're under the weather. It's got a bubbly tartness like a champagne but still retains the comfort of drinking a good brew--perfect for a sick day, whether the illness is of the body or the soul.

The guys down the bar are watching the whole First Call unfold. As the beer is finally poured, one pipes up. "Don't give this place too much press," he says. "We don't want to ruin it."

So note to readers, if you're having the best day ever and feeling like a little mindless celebration, Stumbling Monk is not your watering hole. But if you're a dude with a beard who wants to spend a little time talking about your feelings, and laughing about them, over a good beer, belly up.

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