The Hidden Cocktail

The sign said “No Pictures.”

I didn’t see it until it was pointed out to me on our way out the door last night.

Like New York’s Milk & Honey, PDT, and other acclaimed “secret” classic cocktail joints, Capitol Hill’s Needle & Thread seems to want their cake and eat it too. Don’t’ get me wrong, their cake is delicious. They want everyone to know they’re there without anyone really knowing. They want to be underground (hence a “no pictures” rule and a sacredly guarded reservations phone number) but also in the public eye (hence the not-so-mysterious black telephone next to a massive vault door in the main dining floor wall). That not-so-hidden entrance gets you up to Needle & Thread, the 2nd story floor of Tavern Law. I'm so glad I found it, quite easily, a few months ago.

(A friend, on the right, holds a fabulous concoction of Whiskey, Gin and Lillet, 2010).

It's absolutely charming, and although some say it is trying a bit hard, I admire the way they sought to create a whole new world outside the typical Seattle scene. (Like one of my vibrant roommates who decorated her whole bedroom like a Moroccan tent. Sometimes you just want to be over-the-top, live like you're in a movie).

(Moroccan tented bedroom, 2009)

Anyway, there are times I try too hard too, and I'm often pleased at the results. I have been three times now and have always found it quite easy to make a reservation, and my cocktails have always been well worth pretending you finally unlocked a secret code and deciphered the phone number.

(Our second round of drinks at Needle & Thread, 2010)

“Something with champagne, not too sweet,” or “rye whiskey and maple, no egg” will get you a smashing success and leave you clapping your hands joyously for another round. You admire Needle & Thread in the same way you admire the hostess of a “casual dinner party” who nonchalantly says she just “whipped up” the 5-course meal you are enjoying. You love every bite, but you know it took a lot more skill, creativity, and intention than she is letting on. You love her for it!

Brian McCracken and Dana Tough are the chefs and creators of both Tavern Law and Spur Gastropub, where the food is to die for and every cocktail a new favorite. Both pull from al old-American era: Tavern Law's wood-paneled, book lines rooms are warmed with heavy drapes and photos of naked women and parasols.

One idea I stole from our visit to Milk & Honey in Manhattan a few year ago

(Outside the secretive Milk & Honey, NYC)
was the concept of "house rules." Every restaurant or bar should have them, and I made my own version for a cocktail party at our house shortly after.

(Lund Cocktail Hour House Rules, posted on my door, 2008)

1 comment:

  1. I want to go to this place when I visit in March!