First Call: Bartender’s Choice at Rob Roy

Tavern Law alum Nathan Weber is as trustworthy as they come.

The Watering Hole: Rob Roy, 2332 Second Ave., 956-8423, BELLTOWN.

The Atmosphere: Rob Roy is lined with leather walls, atmospheric lighting, and a tasteful amount of taxidermy. Grab a seat at one of the plush couches in front or the leather stools at the bar. Shelves behind the bar are stocked with common and rare spirits, and lined with every shape and style of glassware that may possibly be needed: copper mugs for Moscow Mules, stainless-steel julep cups, brandy snifters, cordial glasses, and more. Music fills the room from the reel-to-reel tape player or turntable, which are surrounded by LPs and tapes, antique bar tools, and cocktail books.

The Barkeep: I walked into Rob Roy expecting to see owner and bartender Anu Apte behind the stick. Instead, another familiar face was there—Nathan Weber‘s. He left his post as bar manager of Tavern Law last month, and now works a couple of shifts a week at Rob Roy. He’s happy to have more time to spend with his girlfriend Anya and to get back to what he loves to do most—make great drinks.

Weber, like many area bartenders, has long been a customer at Rob Roy. He has been practicing his ice-ball-carving technique—a required skill at Rob Roy—and playing around with some of the house infusions. When I asked Weber what he likes to drink in his off hours, he said vermouth. He’s a big fan of Dolin vermouth—sweet, dry, or blanc varieties— and likes to use them to make inverted martinis and Manhattans (just reverse the ratio, using more vermouth than spirits).

The Drink: Getting asked to make a bartender’s choice is nothing new to Weber. Yet he furrowed his brow, surveyed the ingredients at his disposal, and got to work. He mixed and tasted, added a little more of this and that, then shook the drink and tasted again. Then he grabbed a chilled martini glass, tapped the bar twice, and poured the drink.

Weber is excited about Rob Roy’s housemade cinnamon- and hibiscus-infused gin, and used it in the drink—along with rum, grapefruit and lemon juices, dry vermouth, simple syrup, and a couple of dashes of Bitter Truth bitters.

The Verdict: Mmm. The first sip was crisp and refreshing. There was a distinct cinnamon and nutmeg flavor, and a floral and grapefruit aroma. It had a clean finish and paired perfectly with the complementary bowls of goldfish crackers lining the bar.