Belltown Bar Crawl – Whisky Bar Selection Impresses

August 6th, 2010 · 6 Comments · Beer & Food, General Beer News

Somehow, last night turned into an impromptu bar crawl to a few Belltown spots. My head is hurting a bit this morning, but I managed to put some thoughts together on the places we visited.

Thanks to nealdstewart on Flickr

Whisky Bar – Located at 2nd and Virginia, the Whisky Bar offers a selection of 200+ types of whisky, but what you might not realize is that they have a pretty sweet beer selection as well. About a year ago, the bar expanded their bottle list and put a focus on rotating taps, bringing in special one-offs and rare beers. It’s sad that it took me about a year to get down there and finally check the place out, but now that I have it won’t take me nearly as long to make the return trip. The highlight of the taplist was Port Brewing Older Viscosity, to which they add on their board a “10W40” notation to rightfully compare it to motor oil. The Older Viscosity isn’t exactly a summer beer, but I’m not one to turn down a glass of it in any weather. It’s thick and oily, with lots of bourbon, vanilla, and oak coming through with the intense roast flavors. It’s 100% aged in Heaven Hill Bourbon Barrels for 6 months, making it a very fitting addition to the lineup at a place called the “Whisky” Bar. At $6 for a glass of it during happy hour, it’s a very reasonable price for such a beer in Belltown (which, if you aren’t aware, is a pricey neighborhood for food/drinks). I also enjoyed a glass of Beer Valley Rosebud IPA, which I haven’t seen anywhere else in town. It’s a solid, dry IPA with decent hop flavor and strong bitterness. The tap list was rounded out by Allagash Curieux, Maritime Red, Maritime Imperial IPA, Maritime Old Seattle Lager (I think they like Maritime a bit, eh?), Silver City Kellerbier, Ommegang Hennepin, and the obligatory Belltown tap: Stella Artois.

The bottle list at Whisky Bar was also impressive, with some selections from Brewdog and a large focus on Belgian beers. But, the one thing I couldn’t get past was this: they charge $12 for a bottle of Russian River Pliny the Elder. Now, I know it’s a popular beer, and I know the bar is in Belltown. But, you can buy the beer retail for around $5, and even Brouwer’s Cafe, whose bottle prices are usually at the top end of the spectrum, only charges $7.50 for the same beer. $12 is just way out of whack and crosses a line. But, if they get enough Belltown rich kids to buy it for that price, then more power to them, I guess. We opted for the $14 750ml bottle of Upright Seven, which probably isn’t much above the retail price and seemed very reasonable for that beer.

As for the Kebab place next door, all I have to say is pink sauce does not have any place on a freaking gyro.

The Rob Roy – This cocktail bar has a laid-back atmosphere that makes it a perfect spot for an after-work cocktail at the bar. I don’t order cocktails very often, and I usually have no freaking clue what I want when looking at a cocktail menu. I like gin and ordered one of the gin drinks on their list, a Tom Collins. Unfortunately, my dumb ass didn’t think about the fact that the other ingredients, lemon, soda, and cane sugar, would make this taste like a lemonade I spiked with gin in high school. It was made just fine and as described on the menu, I just have no freaking clue why I ordered it. My drinking companion for the evening seemed to enjoy his Kangaroo Kicker, and I was wishing I had just ordered the namesake Rob Roy. After seeing this review of their happy hour, I’ll definitely go back for that.

Rob Roy also has a selection of bottled beers. They have some solid offerings, but I can’t remember anything other than the $19 22oz bottle of Beer Valley Leafer Madness Imperial IPA. Yep, $19. Listed proudly at the very top of the beer menu. It’s a nice beer, but did I mention it was $19? That makes the $9 cocktails look very reasonable, comparatively. The beer retails for about $6 or $7 probably, and I can’t imagine how they came up with their $19 price point. Maybe they put an extra “1” on their by accident and it should have shown $9? Stick with the cocktails.

Two Bells Bar and Grill – This is another Belltown joint that I’d always heard was pretty cool and has a nice beer selection. My first impression was that the diner atmosphere is a bit odd for a drinking establishment, but much of their focus is on what some people claim to be the best burgers in Seattle. We planned on trying one of those supposedly fantastic burgers. After ordering a pint of Big Time Dark Days IPA, which was freaking awesome, we kept looking for our server (who kind of reminded me of a pirate) to order our burgers. Sadly, he didn’t reappear until we were done with our beers and we had talked ourselves out of ordering. I’ll go back one of these days to try the burger, but overall I’m not sure I enjoyed the vibe there enough to make many repeat visits.

Spitfire – As far as Seattle sports bars go, this place is towards the top of the spectrum. Lots of TVs, a huge room with lots of tables, and pretty solid food. They have a great happy hour, and their Cuban Pork Sandwich is always a solid choice. As for beer, your options are limited. But, it is the one place in town that always has Bridgeport IPA on tap, which is a nice change-of-pace session IPA. It’s not my favorite, but I really enjoy a pint every once in a while. Remember, this place is a sports bar. If you have no interest in staring at TVs, then don’t come here. The atmosphere isn’t exactly inviting if you aren’t there to watch a game.

Well, that’s it. Not bad for a Thursday night, huh?


6 Comments so far ↓

  • Ep

    Let me guess… your server at Two Bells was a short, dark-haired guy in his 40s.

    And I believe you meant Beer (not Leafer) Valley Rosebud IPA .

  • elvis

    two bell’s burgers are super hyped, took some friends there with that idea, and they all still make fun of me. not good.

    buckley’s has a decent tap list on occasion, and some great sports viewing.

  • Kaiser

    Ep – I think the server we had was moderate height with blond hair, probably in his 40s. You are correct that I meant Beer Valley – changed. Thank you.

    Buckley’s is probably my favorite sports bar in the city. You can usually find a few nice taps for sure, and I like the atmosphere much more than at Spitfire.

  • Patrick

    Whisky Bar is indeed a surprisingly great place for beer.
    Rob Roy is slightly disappointing – they used to have taps but removed them about a year ago because, according to the server earlier this week, the tap lines ran underground and were too hard to clean.

  • dave

    Too bad about Two Bells. I’ve always had really good service there and their secret (oops) outdoor area in the back is nice little urban sanctuary.

  • Quispy

    Um, perhaps you’ll want to take a look at the bottle prices from Monk’s Kettle in SF.

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