Bourbon: Now at the Columbia City Theater

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Daniel Stockman, 2009.

Whiskey Wednesday's investigation into the sushi and hard liquor situation of Liberty has been postponed for the sake of a a very important event in Columbia City (and quite frankly, the need to explore bars outside of Belltown and Capitol Hill). The historic Columbia City Theater's recent re-opening offers building renovations, an exciting upcoming line-up of hot, new local music and one of the best concession set-ups I've ever heard of; in the ground level of the historic vaudeville theater lies a brand new whiskey bar, aptly named The Bourbon.

Patrons are greeted with a food menu offering a selection of Neapolitan pizzas available to order from the neighboring Tutta Bella and a simple, seven-item list of whiskey cocktails. Bourbon's small size and specific theme may give off the inaccurate impression of a lack of variety, but the bar's swath of cocktails ranges admirably from super-sweet to a bitter kick in the mouth. Furthermore, rye cocktails are almost as prevalent in Bourbon's ouvre, including the stiff Diamondback.

Green chartreuse and rye build a solid bitter core to the Diamondback, regulated by applejack's characteristic tartness -- but not so much that they undermine the Diamondback's insinuated bite. It's a simple, hard-hitting shot of flavor that stays with you until the bottom of the glass.

On the complete opposite side of the spectrum, the bar offers the Bourbon Crusta. Typical crusta preparation involves pressing fresh lemon across the rim of a glass to adhere an even layer of pulverized white sugar. From there, Bourbon adds triple sec, maraschino liqeuer and orange bitters to make something so intensely sweet I forgot it could even get me drunk. For this reason, it ultimately seemed flimsy and unremarkable. The drink was over before I even realized I was halfway through, and left no impression on me to consider ordering another.

Similarly crusta'd, The Commodore takes the previous drink and bends it over its knee, removing the sugary safety net of maraschino and triple sec and replacing it with the smooth landing of white creme de cacao. It's a drink that provides sweet decadence without drowning what you (hopefully) came here to drink. The Commodore's lemon zest and dash of grenadine are great finishing touches to this must-have after-dinner cocktail. If Bourbon only served this drink, they'd still deserve the name.

Overall, the Columbia City Theater revamp brought not only a much needed shot in the arm to the neighborhood's music scene, but also an unforeseen boon to their nightlife's more "liquid" assets.

 
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