The Watering Hole: 418 Public House, 418 N.W. 65th St., 783-0418.
photo by Keegan Hamilton Brett H gives his Irish Sidecar the thumbs up.
The Atmosphere: Dark and sleepy on a sunny afternoon. Lots of action on the pool table, and an MLS soccer match on the telly.
418 Public House opened two months ago in Phallard, the nexus of Ballard and Phinney Ridge on 65th Street. It occupies what used to be The Reading Gaol, an equally dark and sleepy British pub. What 418 brings to the table, though, is a prime setup for watching soccer. The latest endeavor from the owners of Capitol Hill's esteemed soccer-friendly establishment The Summit Public House, 418 features a sizable selection of draft beers and a nice, big flat-screen TV situated just to the right of the entrance, where it's viewable from just about every spot in the house.
Lest you get confused and feel like you've somehow been transported across the pond to the UK, the food menu is mostly Mexican fare, and the day we visited the special was a tamale and a pint for $7. It's a bit peculiar, but hey, why not? Both Mexico and England love soccer and beer, so it's actually a natural fit when you think about it.The Barkeep: Brett H works primarily at the Summit Public House but pulls double-duty one day a week at 418. "It's an excuse to get off the Hill," he says. He is trained as a recording engineer and has worked the sound board at live shows, but tends bar to pay the bills.
The Drink: An Irish Sidecar: a tasty take on the classic cocktail, featuring Jameson and Grand Marnier instead of brandy and Cointreau. Brett claims the creation as his own, explaining that sidecars are one of his favorite libations (ours and Hemingway's, too) but he "just got tired of brandy and decided to switch it up a bit."
The liquor is muddled with lemon and orange, mixed with a dash of OJ, then shaken thoroughly with ice. Brett strained the mix and served it in a sugar-rimmed glass with a lemon-wedge garnish.
It tastes absolutely nothing like Jameson, which is somewhat disappointing if you're a lover of the nectar of the Irish Gods. Still, it is very drinkable. It's sweet, almost overpoweringly so, with citrus being the dominating flavor. Brett says it's also available as a shot, which would be the way to go if you plan on consuming more than one of the things in a single sitting.
The Verdict: The Irish Sidecar makes for a nice cocktail to sip during happy hour, but when bellying up to the bar during a soccer match, there's nothing like a cold pint of lager. Following the sidecar with a frosty Kölsch is a wise decision.
Brett says 418 isn't yet a popular place to watch big matches, which is just fine considering other nearby options tend to be overcrowded (Market Arms, in Ballard proper) or overpriced (The Dray, just a few doors down) when the Sounders play.