The Watering Hole: Still Liquor, 1524 Minor Ave., Capitol Hill, 467-4075
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.
The Atmosphere: While the two-month-old cocktail bar bills itself as a place in "the spirit of war, peace and illegal booze" and a "1920's automotive garage restored into your new favorite watering hole," it doesn't exactly fit into the speakeasy-style mold so prevalent around the city as of late. Comfortably dim with big windows and funky soul music in the background, this watering hole sports the rawness of exposed wood and concrete while matching it with modern comforts like heated seats--a much-appreciated amenity for cold nights on the hill.
The Bartender: George Engelstad is a veteran barkeep--before starting at Still when it opened in late January, he worked at The Showbox for a decade and put in stints at The War Room and Havana. After a break from the bar game, he now handles the Sunday through Tuesday crowds solo with an occasional fill-in on weekends. Best of all, Englestad can keep up a friendly conversation without letting any patron's glass dip too low.The Drink: A plentiful glass of Bushmills Irish Whiskey and a bottle of PBR--very straight and to the point. In his words, "Not the most exciting cocktail, but it's pretty basic and it's what I normally drink. I've been stuck on Bushmills forever; it's a little smoother than most whiskeys and a little easier to drink. And I grew up on shitty beer so there's that. But Bushmills, it's almost too easy to drink."
The Verdict: He wasn't kidding; Bushmills IS easy to drink, especially for a whiskey aficionado. And PBR is what it is. But in a bar like this, if you don't want to drink a cocktail, you have to have a backup plan. There are only two taps and a handful of beers in the fridge, and while the wine list isn't half bad the impressive selection of bottles suggest an easy decision. So why not whiskey? It's the perfect drink to slowly sip over conversation with friends or during some thinking time--and Still Liquor is great for both.