Participants in yesterday's Big Climb at Columbia Center didn't have any trouble finding strawberry slushes or coconut pineapple sports drinks after the race. But runners assigned afternoon start times had a considerably harder time finding stiffer beverages to celebrate their ascents.
The Brooklyn minutes after opening on Sunday afternoon.
After I barreled up the 69 flights - and panted my way back to ground level - Voracious contributor Sonja Groset and I set out to find a bloody Mary and a television screening the UNC/Kansas game. We were turned away from the Polar Bar (closed on Sundays), the W, Capital Grille and The Brooklyn and The Met (all closed until 4 p.m.) While it's not unusual for an urban business district to go dark on the weekends, downtown Seattle isn't short on tourists and theater-goers (and, occasionally, stair climbers) looking to uphold the civilized tradition of drinking on a Sunday afternoon. Fifteen minutes after The Brooklyn opened, nearly every seat in the front bar was taken.
As recently as the 1980s, downtown Seattle dining culture was a seven days-a-week affair. But hotels have lately trimmed opening hours, with the Fairmont Olympic shutting down the Georgian Room's Sunday dinner service - once a local institution - more than a decade ago.
"If you had been in Seattle 40 years ago looking for a drink on a Sunday afternoon, you would have had a somewhat better range of choices," bookseller and lifelong Seattle resident Taylor Bowie assures me. "There were at least a couple dozen sort of "middle-of-the road"-to-semi-divey eating spots downtown with cocktail lounges."
According to Bowie, had we been wandering around the area which now bills itself as the West Edge, our best bet for a mid-day cocktail might have been a department store.
"The Cascade Room at the Bon Marche (now Macy's) served killer drinks," he says. "One of the few times I ever got loaded during the day was a misbegotten afternoon with a friend which started with lunch and three rounds of "Cascade Cocktails" at the Bon."
And had I not wanted to crash the Bon in my climbing attire, there were plenty of other options in easy walking distance. Here's just a sampling of the bars where Bowie says "you could have hoisted a few at 3:30 on a Sunday in 1972." (Parenthetical annotations courtesy of Bowie.)
Bowie's list doesn't include beer-and-wine joints, nor does he vouch for its completeness. "Those are the ones I can think of off the top of the head," he clarifies. And every one sounds more appealing than a carbonated coconut pineapple water.