The Watering Hole: The Hideout, 1005 Boren Ave., 903-8480, CAPITOL HILL.
The Atmosphere: If you can find The Hideout (it’s near the corner of Boren and Madison), you’ll be rewarded with one of the most beautiful bars Seattle has to offer. It’s dark as night inside, but once your eyes adjust, you’ll be able to ogle the dangling chandeliers, art draped on 16-foot walls, and vintage furniture that give The Hideout that secluded yet I-want-to-be-seen feel. Its image is reflected in its menu’s super-shticky cocktails, like the Andy Warhol, which documents your 15 minutes of fame with a Polaroid of you, and the Elizabeth Taylor, which comes with a chocolate. But let’s get to the most important part of The Hideout…
The Barkeep: Miles Thomas, whose cover is now officially blown. After leaving Tavern Law last month, this super-talented young guy is now tending bar at The Hideout. He was just beginning his second shift the night we paid a visit.
“I think The Hideout is a little more playful, a little more relaxed,” says Thomas. ” I almost feel like I kind of get a little bit of a hideout here, because not everyone knows I’m here. I get to hang out and make drinks. I don’t always have to be ‘on’ making some crazy cocktails all of the time.”
Thomas is also the owner of Scrappy’s Bitters, which you can find at any legitimate booze parlor in Seattle, as well as at some specialty stores. Business is going so well that Thomas is getting ready to move to a larger location—the third time he’s outgrown his production facility in a year and a half. Scrappy’s new home will be on the canal somewhere in Fremont. Because business is booming, you’ll only find Thomas at The Hideout on Fridays and Saturdays; he spends the rest of his week playing boss-man.
The Drink: At the risk of sounding like a bartender groupie, I’ve been following Thomas around town for more than a year (from Branzino to Tavern Law to Toulouse Petit). He knows I have a bit of a floral-citrus relationship with my cocktails and was hesitant to make me his favorite drink when I asked, because it’s pretty much the exact opposite of what I’d actually order.
He made me his version of a Martinez ($9). It’s a very handsome drink. “It’s Old Tom gin. Instead of sweet vermouth, I used a dash of Cynar,” Thomas tells me. “Cynar is a sugar bomb, really. It’s an artichoke liquor and it’s extremely bitter. To round it out, they add a lot of sugar to it. If you get just a little bit of it, it’s nice and bitter. If you overuse it, it becomes really sweet.” This Martinez also contained a dash of maraschino and Regan’s orange bitters, because Miles ran out of Scrappy’s.
Why does he like this drink? “It’s gin, but it tastes like whiskey a little bit. I would totally drink that right now. It’s slightly bitter; it’s dynamic and complex. It’s got different notes in it: hints of orange and juniper complemented by the maraschino. I don’t know, it’s delicious! I like it!” That’s his way of telling me to shut up and drink it, which I did before quickly sliding it over to my friend to sample.
The Verdict: The Martinez is not my kind of cocktail; it’s just a tad too stiff for my liking. Even so, I can appreciate good hooch when I taste it. Thomas is a pro at creating perfectly balanced beverages, alcoholic or not. He loves playing with fresh fruits, veggies, bitters, and anything else that will make your drink that much more enjoyable. He’s also a hell of a great guy who relishes getting to know the regulars at The Hideout and making them drinks they’ll continue to come back for. Case in point: Thomas made me something with citrus and cardamom bitters to make up for The Martinez he knew I wouldn’t like.