First Call: Tom Douglas’ Talented Texan

Living the High Life with a Brave Horse bartender.

The Watering Hole: Brave Horse Tavern, 310 Terry Ave. N., 971-0717, SOUTH LAKE UNION.

The Atmosphere: The converted loft space easily fits two shuffleboards, an expansive horseshoe bar, an open kitchen turning out homemade pretzels by the hundreds, and ample picnic-bench seating with enough room left over for all of Tom Douglas’ James Beard nominations. For those who haven’t heard, Brave Horse Tavern is Tom D.’s newest concept: a highbrow pub for the SLU crowd.

The Barkeep: Rob Moscovitz. Booze and boozers are nothing new to this Texas native who moved to Seattle nearly 12 years ago. This young(ish) buck owned Cypress for two years before selling it to Linda Derschang, who turned it into Smith. “I used to manage Contour, McCoy’s Firehouse—you name it, I’ve been around,” says Moscovitz, who recently turned 35. “I’ve been bartending since I was 18, because in Texas you can start serving at that age.”

So how is working for Big Tom different from all the other places he’s tended? “It’s weird,” says Moscovitz. “It’s a Tom Douglas place, which, as everyone knows, he does really well. It’s corporate-run, but it doesn’t feel that way. [Tom] takes extremely good care of his employees, and for the most part everyone is happy to be here. It’s strange to see so many happy employees running around. I’m totally amazed by it, actually. People in Seattle are loyal to Tom Douglas. They’ll go anywhere he goes.”

The Drink: Moscovitz immediately tells me he’s going to make me two drinks—one a crowd-pleaser, the other his favorite drink. I’m intrigued. And scared. The first cocktail to arrive is girly. I’m told it’s a drink he first started making at The Viking, where he still bartends a few nights a week. “Basically, it’s for women who don’t know what they want to drink, but that men can also appreciate because it has a decent amount of booze in it. Unless you don’t like grapefruit, there is no way on earth you can dislike this drink.” It’s called a Ruby Red: fresh-squeezed ruby-red grapefruit juice, ruby-red grapefruit vodka, cranberry juice, and a squeeze of lime, shaken and poured into a martini glass. Or a shot glass, depending on your mood. “You can shoot it in the morning,” Moscovitz recommends.

The Verdict: It’s refreshing and delicious, just as you’d expect. It’s not a complicated drink; it’s basically fruit punch, but I’m not complaining. Well, maybe just a little. Perhaps it’s my escalating age or just bad decision-making, but before the Ruby Red came into my life, I had consumed nearly two glasses of red wine at Brave Horse. I suspect that’s why I woke up in the middle of the night with one of the worst headaches I’ve had in ages. So while I highly recommend the Ruby Red, I don’t recommend you let it take red wine for a spin in your liver.

Thank the booze gods I didn’t drink Moscovitz’s second drink. Can you guess what it is? Here’s a hint: Besides Brave Horse and The Viking, you can usually catch Moscovitz drinking in a dark corner at either Mecca Cafe or The 5 Point: “I can make all the fruity, girly drinks in the world, but when it comes down to it, I like a cheap beer [Miller High Life] and a decent whiskey. I go Jameson.”

In case you were wondering, the combo didn’t go to waste on me. Moscovitz gave it to an unknown patron at the bar, who I assume can hold their liquor and isn’t partial to pink things. I like to think it was Tom.