The Atmosphere: A box of vintage photos, bright yellow flowers,>"/>
The Watering Hole: Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery, 5427 Ballard Ave NW, 420-3431, BALLARD
The Atmosphere: A box of vintage photos, bright yellow flowers, and a shelf of canning jars at Hot Cake's Molten Chocolate Cakery evokes a sense of an old American comfort felt during simpler days. Autumn Martin opened the Cakery this year as a storefront and restaurant for her eponymous hot cakes, the take-and-bake molten chocolate cakes in a jar.
Walking in, the space is no doubt a quintessential dessert bar of the Pacific Northwest with sleek wooden tables, large blackboard menus, and the right vintage accents alluding to soda shops of a bygone era. While a choice of grilled cheeses and hot cakes might seem like child's play, the Cakery's spin on each item, from a grilled "Big Boy" sandwich with prosciutto, bleu cheese, and dates to its boozy floats and shakes, makes growing up a little sweeter for us all.
The Barkeep: Brandy Black is working behind the Cakery's "bar" these days, but prior to her recent gig at the Cakery, Black worked as a baker for 13 years. She met Martin as a baker at Honey Bear Bakery, where Martin was using the backroom to push out batches of hot cakes to sell at local farmers markets. Black started at Martin's Molten Chocolate Cakery shortly after it opened, where she soon discovered her knack for matching sweets with adult drinks.
The Drink: When Black stumbled upon craft spirits by Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, she forwarded the website to Martin, knowing that their use of natural and organic ingredients fit in line with the Cakery's commitment to environmentally responsible producers.
Art in the Age's hearty ROOT liqueur became the base of the Cakery's boozy root beer float. According to the Art in the Age's website, its root liqueur came from an age-old recipe for an alcoholic root tea. During the Temperance Movement, a pharmacist made the tea, sans alcohol, and dubbed it "Root Beer." Black serves the float by pouring root beer and the 80 proof ROOT over a pure white ball of vanilla bean ice cream from Bluebird Microcreamery.
The Verdict: Despite talks of past comforts and simpler times, this is not your childhood float. One sip of the Cakery's root beer float brings a wallop of intense, earthy root flavors. The slow melting ice cream rounds out the punchy drink with a creamy finish, while the aromas of sassafras, sarsaparilla, birch bark, and wild roots linger. But those looking to avoid the post-imbibing milk mustache might consider using a spoon.