brooklynbarint.jpg
The Brooklyn minutes after opening on Sunday afternoon.
Participants in yesterday's Big Climb at Columbia Center didn't have any trouble finding strawberry slushes or coconut

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Downtown is a Cocktail Desert on Sundays

brooklynbarint.jpg
The Brooklyn minutes after opening on Sunday afternoon.
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.

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.)

  • Cherberg's Broiler (Fifth Ave south of Pike)
  • Carousel Room (Mayflower Hotel)
  • Rough-Rider Room (Roosevelt Hotel)
  • Kansas City Steak House (6th and Pike)
  • Gay 90s (7th and Pike)
  • Golden Egg (7th and Pike)
  • Rendezvous (pre-hipster incarnation)
  • The Lotus (First Avenue...not where you take your parents or a first date)
  • The Unique
  • The Flamingo Room (Best neon sign in Seattle at the time...a two-story pink flamingo...1st and University)
  • The Rickshaw Room (Tattered Asian themed bar in the Gatewood Cafe, 1st and Pike)
  • Green Apple Pie (6th and Pike)
  • Archie's Steak House (6th and Union)
  • Canton Garden (7th and Pike...pretty damn good Chinese food...exotic bar in the basement)
  • Kaluha Room (Restaurant and bar in the Windsor Hotel, 6th and Union..cheapo version of Trader Vic's))
  • Turf (the real one on 3rd Ave)
  • The Sportsman Cafe (South of the Turf on 3rd)
  • Ben Paris (4th, north of Pine...also at 120 Pike)
  • Dog House (nothing need be said)
  • The 610 (Victor Rosellini had sold it by then, but it was still nice with great piano players in the bar)
  • Les Brainard's Grove (6th and Wall...major bar hangout for P-I reporters.
  • Steve's Broiler (4th and Virginia...open 24/7, and better food than the Dog House)
  • Trader Vic's

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.

Follow Voracious on Facebook & Twitter. Follow me at @hannaraskin

 
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