First Call: Bridge Over Troubled Watering Hole

Rita Dixon hopes to overcome a cursed West Seattle location.

The Watering Hole: The Bridge, 4439 35th Ave. S.W., 402-4606, WEST SEATTLE.

The Atmosphere: The Bridge doesn’t have an easy job. It moved into a not-so-clean space in West Seattle notorious for—well, I’ll just let owner Rita Dixson say it: “This location had such a bad reputation in a small sense. Not bad, just different, I guess. Getting people to trust it, especially from the outside, it doesn’t look like it’s going to be the most inviting. But you come in and there’s a fireplace and good food and staff.”

Before The Bridge opened on February 24, the space was home to Redline. And before that, Legends. Both were sports bars. Now it’s a welcoming neighborhood bar. “We incorporated a great bar menu with good food. We’ve definitely cleaned up the location,” says Dixson. “The building has a lot of history and she just needed—I call her a ‘she,’ I don’t know why—a lot of TLC.”

The Barkeep: Rita Dixson. Not only one of the owners of The Bridge, she often works behind the bar. “Before this, I was bartending and managing at Talarico’s. I worked there for many years. Great people. I learned so much from them.” Locals know Talarico’s as the former home of New Luck Toy. “When they remodeled that, it was just insane. I got to see that transformation. [New Luck Toy] was there for more than 35 years, in much need of a remodel. I was able to witness the remodel and know that it’s possible.”

Dixson owns The Bridge with Trevor Garand, formerly of Feedback Lounge. “He actually was the best man at my wedding,” says Dixson. “My husband and him have been friends since they were teenagers, but we had never worked together before. We’re like family.”

The Drink: “I used to work at Barca on Capitol Hill, so I’m used to working with over hundreds of vodkas, but this one is just fun!” Dixson says of the Starburst. “It’s my version of the Starburst candy, so it should taste like the pink Starburst from the yellow package.” I love it already. This is my kind of fruiffy drink, which is not actually on their list of specialty cocktails ($7–$9), orchestrated by Quincy Hallock from Corner Pocket—a drink enthusiast who just happens to be Garand’s fiancee.

“Mmmm . . . smell that. Doesn’t it smell like a Starburst?” says Dixson as Death Cab for Cutie’s “Soul Meets Body” plays in the background. To me, it smells less like a Starburst and more like a collection of Easter candy.

So what’s in this drink? “Raspberry and Vanilla Stoli, fresh lemon, fresh lime, and fresh orange and cranberry juices,” says Dixson. A small splash of Sprite acts as the first layer in a martini glass before the alcohol is poured into it. Dixson likes it “because it’s sweet and tastes like candy! And also because it smells like it tastes.”

The Verdict: The drink is liquid sugar. It’s delightful. It doesn’t really taste like a pink Starburst, but there definitely is a candy quality to it. If you come to The Bridge, let Rita make you whatever she wants. After all, part of the fun of ushering in a new neighborhood bar is letting the staff leave their mark on you.