All Seattle cocktail emporiums could take a lesson from Tavern Law, located in the BOOOM we call 12th and Madison on Capitol Hill. If I were living on the hill again, I would be accidentally on purpose wandering into this little gem of a saloon just about every chance I could. However, this particular visited happened to be well-planned. From the creators of Spur Gastropub, Ladies and Gents, I give you heaven in a bar.
It was the evening of the first fall rain in Seattle. It was a perfect, perfect backdrop to lollygag in a bar who boasts knowledge and books as their decor, inspired and intelligent old-timey cocktails, and one of the most delicious hamburgers known to yelpers. I had to try it...and with these conditions, how could I not love it?!
I had read several reviews to not patronize this restaurant from the hours of 9pm and beyond on weekends, so being the senior citizen diners that we are, my husband and I entered the gates of heaven at precisely 5:30pm, exactly 1 half hour after the doors opened for business. It was almost entirely empty, save a few huddles of cocktailers here and there. Though the establishment is quite intimate, we had several options for seating. We positioned ourselves right beside the wall of Encyclopedia Brittanica, of course!
One of my only criticisms of this place was that the decor was only JUST enough to look like a law library. I would have covered every wall with books and more books, hell - I might have even bought some dust room spray to fragrance the place a bit, and would have perhaps spent less time on the gimmicky speak-easy part. We didn't go up to the second floor (accessed through a door made to look like a bank-vault, and only via reservation), but I am over the pretentious of secret passwords and hidden rooms.
I am not sure I've had better service in all of my dining experience. Either that, or our lovely tow-headed server (who also happened to make our drinks, which I think is kick-ass for a restaurant...all their servers are their own bartenders, and can therefore recommend cocktails intelligently) got me totally drunk, totally early.
I had also read that the best way to enjoy Tavern Law was to have a conversation with the bartender, telling him your precious preferences, and some some magic concoction will appear before you. Well, I often shy from long conversations with staff (residual politeness from days serving at a busy restaurant, perhaps?), but I offered up my likes: gin, bitters, grapefruit, etc. What surprised me was the slew of questions he threw back at me, "Do you like aromatic or floral flavors?" "Citrus or sweet?" It was awesome. But what he brought back to me was even more awesome, this pink beauty that had many layers and different notes. It seemed to be a small nod to a gin and grapefruit juice, but with so much more. Dare I say I tasted lilac? It was unnamed, so we affectionately deemed it "The Lady in Waiting."
Whatever it was, it went down fast. As did the next three...whatever they were concocted with - god nectar for all I could tell. Even as the place got busier and busier, our server paid just as much attention to us as ever. I even ordered a gin fizz for the first time, despite our server saying he didn't really love them, but that one simply HAD to try it. Apparently it takes forever to make, as it's basically egg whites and cream. It was worth the wait.
After the froie gra terrine, fried chicken, and the hamburger*, we stumbled into the night in love with our lives, that delicious gin-fizz makin' man, Seattle, and all mankind. Shoot, I may have even loved Lady Gaga in that moment, which just shows you how tight I may have been. The rain kissed our faces and we knew we would be back.
I think that means we are an easy date...but lord knows, after that check - we are not a cheap one. No siiiiirrrreeee.
Go. Go. Then Go Back.
*that hamburger made me cry. foodgasm all the way.