woodskys.jpg
Woodsky's co-owner Greg Woodman is a fun dude.
The Watering Hole: Woodsky's, 303 N. 36th St., 547-9662, FREMONT

The Atmosphere: At the former location of

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Woodsky's: Like Your Living Room, Only With a Shotski

woodskys.jpg
Woodsky's co-owner Greg Woodman is a fun dude.
The Watering Hole: Woodsky's, 303 N. 36th St., 547-9662, FREMONT

The Atmosphere: At the former location of Sinners & Saints, Woodsky's carries a snow-sports theme. But rather than reeking of a ski instructor's dorm room, it feels clean, welcoming, and versatile. It's one of the few places in Fremont where you can just chill out and have a beer without experiencing a total shitshow (a role similar to the one filled by Sinners & Saints), and it pulls it off deliberately and beautifully. The decor is simple, straightforward, and unintrusive (unlike the directionless clutter of its predecessor), and the layout feels relaxing and open. Much as in a ski lodge, both enthusiasts and bystanders can participate with equal enthusiasm. Despite its younger vibe, on a weeknight I'd feel comfortable bringing my parents here.

That said, it's not like Woodsky's doesn't have the potential to turn goofy. It brings out your inner adolescent with a pop-punk soundtrack, then gets it drunk with specialty cocktail and shot menus, printed on snowboards, featuring drinks like the Gummy Bear and the Windex--mostly some pretty daring choices with flavored vodka, and presumably a pretty daunting next morning. Also available for your reckless imbibing is the staple of the slopes, the Shotski. This is basically what it sounds like: four shots, embedded into a ski, so you and your three best friends can take them in unison (or end up wearing matching whiskey-soaked shirts). Daily specials often include dollar PBR or two dollar Jell-O shots.

Most of the snow gear that accents the walls was given to the place by patrons, with the exception of the occasional brewery swag (a Deschutes sled, a Red Hook snowboard). On Tuesday nights, they have goldfish races, where for a $5 entry fee you pick out one of their goldfish, name it, and race it against other goldfish, tournament-style. Winner gets the pot. It's these kinds of antics, plus the friendly barstaff, that make Woodsky's fit so seamlessly into its environment--even though it has a cohesive idea behind it, it is at its heart a neighborhood bar. And in a neighborhood that caters heavily to imported drunks, it's nice to have.

The Barkeep: Greg Woodman was one of the four owners of Sinners & Saints. After the other three went their own way, he grabbed his friend Schuyler ("Sky," hence Woodsky's) and started Woodsky's in its stead. Sinners & Saints, he says, wasn't his vision, which became more apparent when they started booking DJs. Woodsky's "has more of a chill vibe" than Sinners and Saints had, he says. "We're not a dance club . . . I want a place that I would go and hang out."

As such, Woodsky's has almost taken the form of a living-room extension, if Greg's customers were his roommates. His decor came from those customers, and he's always open to more. "The bar is shaped by the people who come in here," says Greg. "I always want to be just adding stuff and make it fun."

In addition to his commitment to the people of Fremont (Greg is a longtime resident, and "wouldn't want to be anywhere else"), Greg says Woodsky's is educating nonresidents by "battling the notion that Fremont ends at Nectar." Therefore he loves having his bar just outside the main Fremont drag.

The Drink: Greg has been on two big kicks lately: Bridgeport Kingpin Ale and Eagle Creek Bourbon. They're a match made in heaven, sweet and caramely with a complex, full texture--the bourbon was essentially a concentrated version of the beer, as much as it could be. While both are definitely sip-don't-chug fare, they both pack a pretty big wallop, and I was very glad very soon that I didn't have to drive home.

The Verdict: Even though the cocktail menu mostly offers the sweet (another example would be the Grape Kamikaze), the combination of the bourbon and brew fit the bar well. Both are sipping drinks--total living-room drinks, not the fare of the frat-party shitshow. Both are from Oregon, so reasonably local. It may have been inadvertent, but they fit the whole of the bar--the warm, wooden interior, the relaxed vibe, the community-built space--to a T.

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