Half a decade ago I worked at a restaurant on 15th Ave East when a guy came into the office and told us he was opening a cocktail bar/sushi restaurant/café nearby. We smiled nicely and laughed later at the confused-sounding idea. While Liberty's identity crisis hasn't improved since then, it has proven that it's a viable concept, filling the place up every night and earning a reputation as one of the city's top cocktail haunts. Monday nights--like all the others--the couches, high tables, and bar are filled with sushi and drink seekers of all stripes, but lately a new face has popped up behind the bar.
Bartender Elizabeth Powell is well-known in Boston, having been head bartender at ArtBar, earning her reputation for keeping the focus on her guests (while making great drinks, natch). When her wife got a job in Seattle, she made the move and the cross-country bartender network went into full effect, landing her at Liberty. The bar agrees with her hospitality focus, and Monday nights allow her and co-bartender Dylon Tubb to be "dedicated to making sure that our neighbors and friends have the best time they can." Powell added that if you want her to bring some of her Boston background to your drink experience, she'll do it, and 4-6pm is the time to come--before the crowds descend.
Boston background aside, Powell appreciates that Seattle is a city of cocktail lovers, most with little pretension regarding beverages, though she marveled at the number of drinks ordered that contain egg whites. Among other impressive pieces of the Seattle drinks scene, she muses "There are so many different amaros available out here; I'm pretty excited about it. The local spirit scene is pretty awesome; I'm certainly going to be doing my homework to get on top of all of those."
New cocktail blood in town is always exciting, and Mondays at Liberty offer a good chance to try something new. Keith Waldbauer of Liberty explained, "Sundays and Mondays belong to the bartenders," meaning, they move from having one bartender, a barback, and a server to having two bartenders and a barback (who is a bartender in training). "As you can imagine," Waldbauer said, "it's a great night for experimentation and inspiration." Experimentation only seems appropriate at a place rocking the bar/sushi/coffee. I asked Powell what about the concept. "It's pretty cool that I get to make drinks like the ones that we make at a bar that serves sushi. Coming from Boston, one can get good sushi or good drinks, usually not both at once." Well, chalk one up for Seattle!