The Kingfish Cafe is a Southern specialty joint tucked into the residential side of Capitol Hill; it's far enough from Broadway to stay quiet but not so out of the way to halt a fairly steady steam of customers.
Most people come here for the enthusiastic service, the authentic Southern entrees or the renowned and stacked-high desserts -- but the bartenders are no slouches either. Their storied Mint Juleps provide a formidable contrast to those at The Zig Zag, forgoing meticulous presentation for a humble mason jar. What the Kingfish's juleps lack in a near-mystical capacity to refresh, they make up with a liberal application of both simple syrup and bourbon.
If you took the Zag out of the question, this super-sweet, super-stiff summer pick-me-up would likely rule the dozen or so days of sunshine Seattle gets a year. If you didn't, it's still one hell of a close race.
The rest of Kingfish Cafe's signature cocktail menu heavily favors Maker's Mark, which is just fine by me. In addition to its famed Mint Julep, The Kingfish offers an Alabama Old Fashioned with Maker's, simple syrup, muddled oranges and a splash of soda.Stopping my rage short for any "Old Fashioned" defamed by muddled fruit, this cocktail distinguishes itself as a delicious variation. The Alabama's fresh muddled oranges are a far cry from the nearly spoiled lemon wedges and maraschino cherries that usually adulterate the classic simplicity of sugar, soda, bitters and whiskey.
The Alabama Old Fashioned is a perfect after-dinner sippin' drink for the Kingfish's generously portioned buttermilk fried chicken, potato salad and spicy collard greens. I left feeling absolutely stuffed while, against all rules of nature, still keeping a spring in my step. This feeling summarizes one of the biggest draws of The Kingfish: the ability to thrive in the heat of a city that tends to simply wilt.
Next week, I swing by the stentorian Knee High Stocking Company to try out the "Bourbon Dynasty," a baffling concept that I, for one, would love to marry into.