The Atmosphere: Clever Bottle is located in that stretch of 2nd Ave.>"/>
The Watering Hole: Clever Bottle, 2222 2nd Ave. Ste 100, BELLTOWN. 206-915-2220
The Atmosphere: Clever Bottle is located in that stretch of 2nd Ave. in Belltown between Mama's Mexican, Rob Roy, The Croc, and Tula's. It's packed at happy hour and for good reason. There's a cocktail special for $7, small plates, and a handful of wine options. Small groups appeared to be meeting up before dinner or a show the rainy Monday night I grabbed a stool at the bar. The bar area is pretty bright, not a place for brooding, but a great place for people watching. While I waited for my companion to arrive, it struck me that between the plaid shirts and attractive 20-somethings, all I needed was a Nick Drake soundtrack to feel like I was in a fucking Jetta commercial. Clever Bottle does have enough of that gritty Belltown charm however--dusty, empty bottles line shelves on the walls, candles flicker on tables, and exposed filament bulbs hang from the ceiling
The Barkeep: I had time to observe the bartender, who was working the whole place: waiting tables, mixing drinks, and cooking (snack plates are quickly assembled behind the bar, and any hot dishes are warmed in a toaster oven). Katy Gentry's friend owns Clever Bottle, and bartending there is a great gig while Gentry attends grad school. The willowy blond is getting her master's in psychology, and says the job provides interesting opportunities for human observation. By my observation however, she needs a raise. Even the "You rocked it!" comments a few patrons made as they were leaving are not compensation enough for running the entire place at the peak two hours of business. But everyone appears happy with the arrangement.
The Drink: The shelves at Clever Bottle appear sparse at first, but what they do stock, they put to good use. There's fig-infused bourbon, smoked sea salt, serrano chile-infused Cocchi Americano, housemade ginger beer and bitters, plus jasmine-infused gin. Unfortunately there's also Cook's sparkling wine. Several local spirits line the shelves too however, and Clever Bottles offers "Local Liquor Tuesday," with a $5 cocktail featuring a local spirit. And there's a local liquor flight for $25, which includes an ounce and a half pour from three local distilleries, plus various mixers so you can play mixologist at your table.
When I asked Kate for a drink, without skipping a beat, she brought me the spicy serrano peach cocktail--made with serrano-infused Cocchi Americano, Mezcal, lime juice, and peach nectar.
The Verdict: A little bit spicy, a touch smoky, with just the right amount of sweetness, Kate knocked it out of the park. The drink was warming, but still refreshing and highly quaffable. I had to ask Kate though, why that drink? It's kind of a bold choice, since, like Scotch, not everyone is a fan of Mezcal. "Because I love it," was her reply. "Many people say they want anything," she continued, "But what they really want is a Cosmo." Kate likes to challenge patrons' palette with something they'd never order, figuring if she loves it, they will too.