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Saturday, April 08, 2017

#2513 #S1246 - Elysian Bar, Seattle - 5/5/2014

The Elysian Bar was an unexpected departure for the craft brewery operating four brewpubs around town, a large part of the Seattle craft brewing scene since the mid 90s, before selling out to Anheuser-Busch in 2015. (With the sale, the company that once distributed beer with labels reading "Corporate Beer Still Sucks," no longer qualifies as a "craft brewery" as per the Brewery Association.)

The previous bars were pretty typical brewpubs, with lots of nice beer choices and modern pub foods. But this space, resplendent in brick, wood, curving seats and a large spiral staircase, has a more elegant vibe and a more formal menu. It also emphasizes cocktails, with no less than Murray Stenson manning the bar, in a program run by former Zig Zag owner Kacy Fitch and hiring additional well-regarded local bartenders Connor O'Brien, Adam Fream, Jason Diaz and Dennis Brand. The downtown location even includes a couple hefty doormen, whom one friend who lives very close appreciated for their work keeping the area free of some scary looking characters on her street.

And yet I'm not sure that the Elysian Bar is for me. The cocktails were quite nice, and I assume remain so, even though the peripatetic Stenson had soon moved on, along with most the other recognizable bartenders. The food is also fine and the setting relatively elegant, though not quite romantic. But for me it doesn't seem to have established a personality -- and it has a lot to live up to in that regard sitting in the space that once held the Art Bar and Noc Noc. Nevertheless I am much more comfortable in the old building than I am in shiny modernist settings, and if it is able to stick around for a few years -- and no Budweiser paraphernalia pops up -- perhaps I'll get to know it.


1516 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA 98101 - (206) 467-4458
Est. April 30, 2014 - Building constructed: 1906
Previous bars in this location: Art Bar, Noc Noc
Web site: elysianbrewing.com
Articles ranked: cocktailwonkseattlemet - eater - seattlemag - seattletimes - zagatseattlemag - afaryelp - tripadvisor

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