The Watering Hole: Local 360, 2234 First Ave., 441-9360, BELLTOWN.
The Atmosphere: Local 360 took over the old Flying Fish spot in February, quickly transforming the Seattle relic into a hip, minimalist, loft-like space that locavores worship. Everything at Local 360—from the building materials to the food to the booze—is locally sourced, including our bartender.
The Barkeep: Joshua Jay Hall. Before getting hired in January, Hall was actively familiarizing himself with the industry. “I worked, actually, at a men’s underwear store on Capitol Hill. I also own an online shop [Be Choice] where we sell hand-screened T-shirts to raise money for non-government-subsidized nonprofits.”
Say what? “I went to school for nonprofit management. And take a look at me now!” Hall laughs.
That’s all fine and good, but nonprofit management training doesn’t make you a good bartender. But then Hall tells me he spent five years at Broadway Grill in addition to a stint at Brasa. I’m starting to feel good about his cocktail-making skills. I feel even better when he tells me he’s at least partially responsible for the booze behind the Local 360 bar.
“When we first decided to open, I just researched every single possibility of local spirits, primarily in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho,” Hall says. “The only thing from Idaho we have is the 44 North vodka, which is really, really good. Washington has only been able to distill for about two years, so we have a few young whiskeys, a lot of vodka, a lot of gin, and a few tequilas that are kind of loopholes, you know, like they import and make half of it here. We have a lot of liquor from Oregon because Oregon has been [distilling] for four or five years, so they have a little more stuff.”
The Drink: Hall hands me a list nine cocktails deep—all $10, each named after a Seattle neighborhood, like The Pioneer Square and the Greenlake Margarita. Of all the ‘hoods, Hall chooses to make me his favorite: The Fremont. It’s made with Sub Rosa saffron vodka, muddled lime, mint, a splash of simple syrup, and an all-cane-sugar ginger ale. As Hall explains, it will make you feel like you’re the center of the universe. “I like it because it’s on the rocks and it’s refreshing.”
The Verdict: The drink is everything Hall says it is. It reminds me of a Moscow Mule, but not quite as sweet. The saffron jumps out at you in a “What is that taste?” sort of way, after you take your first sip and forget what the ingredients are. The ginger ale tastes natural and sweet, not at all like Canada Dry. It’s got a classic flavor.
Hall is behind the bar Sunday through Wednesday. “I get three days off a week. I’m a quality-of-life kind of guy.”