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Bars where Pete has had a drink

Thursday, April 22, 2010

#1079 #S636 - Canlis, Seattle - 4/21/2010

While recently reading my copy of Bourbon Dandy, I realized that, while I'd eaten there a few times over the years, this list still lacked an entry for the bar at Canlis, and I'd never sampled their new cocktail menu.  With the stalwart aid of a couple thirsty friends, this was rectified last night.

Frankly, I'd love Canlis regardless of the food and drinks, as long as it preserved that great Pacifica-style cantilevered structure, the fine stone and cedar decor, and the excellent view.  But of course Canlis joints are renowned for their fine (and fairly pricey) food, and if that were not good enough, they've recently decided to put a renewed focus on upgrading their cocktail menu, under James Mac Williams.  Even the ice has been thoroughly upgraded, filtered multiple times, frozen with a Cryovac process to minimize gases, thawed, and refrozen, and arriving in your Old Fashioned in a magnificent tiny ice berg lodged to the bottom of your chilled glass.  I myself had an Our lady of Thermidor (strawberry infused vodka en sous vide, bitter lemon elixer, Champagne & a dash of Campari) which was good, and the l'Abbatoir d'Amour, which was excellent.  My friends were just as much impressed with their Manhattan and Old Fashioned.

If you're ready to drop some significant cash for dinner, you can count on Canlis to get it right, and you'll appreciate the famous extra touches -- the servers ironing the table cloths, the valets having your car waiting when you leave without ever taking your name or number, and the other small things that have made them the James Beard runner up for best service in the country a couple times. And I was pleased to see the Canlis family still not only operating, but taking a very active role -- a few questions to my server about some of the more tiki elements of the old days prompted a nice visit from Mark Canlis.

But even if you're on a tight budget you can still enjoy the decor -- you can do as we did this visit and just drop into the lounge for a couple cocktails.  They are a bit pricey ($12 to $18 for our choices), and you'll want to be a at least moderately dressy, even in the lounge.  But if you're in the mood for an upscale experience, Canlis delivers.

2576 Aurora Ave N., Seattle, WA 98109 - (206) 283-3313         - tiki central - seattle times - seattle pi - yelp -
(Props to Russell at Bourbon Dandy, and Mimi and her extensive collection of tiki menus and history.  Second image is a scan from "Chub" at, from the 1966 publication "Great Restaurants of the United States and their Recipes.")

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