Bookstore Bar Offers A Lot of Scotch; Not So Many Books


The Bookstore Bar and Cafe (A.K.A. The Bookstore, A Bar; A.K.A. the hotel bar of the fabulous Alexis) is probably most colloquially known for neither selling books nor storing a large amount of them. Then again, compared to the dire hosiery selection at Knee High Stocking Company, you can't really be hold that against The Bookstore.

Being connected to the Alexis means alot of finicky tourist traffic that has no idea what they want, but insist that bartenders know their tastes by default. In response, The Bookstore has taken to offering a wide variety of frequently rotating scotch flights -- three half shots of selected premium liquors at a flat rate. This is also possibly the best way to manage the overwhelmingly huge whiskey selection which freely lines the counter (which turned out to be slightly treacherous as a clumsy handshake attempt across the bar illustrated).

The bar itself possesses somewhere around 66 single malt scotches and 40 bourbons, but isn't satisfied with mere range. The bar also frequently brings in scotch suppliers and distillery representatives for scotch tastings and even history lessons to maintain its more scholarly approach to booze.

Meanwhile, The Bookstore's cocktail menu is broken down into sections, similar to other literary-inspired haunts. Seasonals, classics and bookstore originals are all where they should be -- but there's also a befuddlingly titled "The Final Chapter" section that seems to be devoted entirely to warm drinks.

Starting with the ending, I ordered the Jose O'Shea, which consists of Michael Collins whiskey, Irish Mist liqueur and Mexican hot chocolate. It was a delicious pick-me-up that was incredibly sweet, but dark enough to settle into a smooth sip the entire way through. I couldn't help but wonder what it'd taste like with scotch; the divisive smokiness seems like it'd find a comfortable home here.

That same smokiness more or less dominated the Naughty Scotsman, a selection off the seasonals that's technically a vodka cocktail. However, since vodka is the wimpiest of liquors, it more or less only serves as the cocktail's alcohol content while honey syrup and lime juice struggle to contain the mere splash of scotch -- which it unfortunately manages to do at the extremely sour bottom of the glass.

My bartender Devon claimed that the Bookstore Bar prides itself on being able to make practically everyone love at least some flavor of scotch. Although both of the above cocktails had it in spades, it's overgeneralizing to suggest that all scotch shares this smoky distinctiveness. Devon gently reminded me that not all varieties of the booze has the peaty flavor that has unfairly become a descriptor to all scotch.

I passed on the Seattle Manhattan because I just don't feel comfortable with those two particular metropolitan areas coexisting in my mouth. This deferment was painstaking in that it was the only item amongst Bookstore's original cocktails to feature whiskey, despite their wide selection available to experiment with. Instead, I ordered the Vieux Carré (and did a silent dance to myself upon managing to pronounce it correctly on my first go.)

Rightfully plum in the middle of Bookstore's classic cocktail selection was the Vieux Carré, a drink that blends brandy, Benedictine, Woodford Reserve and sweet vermouth into a rich grandpa drink explosion. Maybe the taste was too subtle for the amount of cigarettes I'd smoked or the lingering tartness of the Scotsman, but ultimately the quaff didn't do much for me besides add to my buzz.

So the Bookstore Bar might not be the best place to go for a craft cocktail, but a hotel bar with such a convincing fervor for scotch is pretty damn admirable. As for the bookstore side, you'd probably see roughly the same amount of books in your average UW student's house party, but until I can pound hard liquor in the middle of a Barnes and Noble without being tackled into a Twilight display -- it certainly isn't my least favorite bookstore.

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