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The Watering Hole: EVO Tapas Kitchen & Cabaret, 1715 E. Olive Way, 328-5293. CAPITOL HILL.
The Atmosphere: Opened for just a little more than a month, EVO is the new slick place to hang out on Capitol Hill. The restaurant features small plates and cocktails with a Mediterranean slant. KP Panyathong, a chef with a resume that includes The Herbfarm, Spring Hill and The Met helped develop the menu, but the bar is the real draw here, near the intersection of Olive and Belmont. Next door to EVO is The Social, a just-as-new nightclub from Pterodactyl Group, so you can understand the importance of a good stiff drink to keep you from being sober while you get your groove on. At EVO, the ceilings are high, the brick walls are exposed (as are the various bottles of liquor), the music is upbeat, and the staff is young and eager. But what captures your attention most is the time-lapse photography of various Seattle neighborhoods--from sunrise to sunset--projected on the walls and above the bar on what appears to be a shower curtain.
The Barkeep: Jeff Justice. He's the son of long-time (now retired) KIRO TV anchor Gary Justice. One delivers news, the other delivers booze. Justice has lived in Seattle his entire life--all 33 years of it. After a combined four years at El Gaucho and Salish Lodge, followed by a three-year stint at the Northgate Stanford's, Justice made the move to EVO.
"I wanted to get back into the more unique and fine-dining experience. Somewhere less corporate. So, I came down here."
He also has a hidden talent that fits right into EVO's live entertainment scene.
"I deejay and that's one of the main draws here. They're trying to get me to do some deejaying here. I used to DJ when I was in my early 20s, took a break, and just started getting back into it again."
The Drink: A Cucumber Press made with vanilla-cucumber vodka, gin, a little bit of sour, muddled cucumber, a touch of cucumber syrup and a press on top (a mix of 7-Up and soda). Oh, and a splash of Midori for color.
"I chose this one because I've been using a lot of cucumber lately and I just had some readily available and I think using cucumber makes for a refreshing drink."
The Verdict: It tasted sweet at the beginning, but as soon as you swallowed your first sip, a more intense earthy taste appeared seemingly out of nowhere. I loved the sweetness and freshness, while my friend preferred the woodsy aftertaste. The drink was certainly interesting and prompted a lot of interaction with our bartender, who loved chatting about the different summer cocktails he's designing and the drink he prefers after his shift is over: "These days, I pretty much drink vodka. Ciroc on the rocks."