Given its damp and temperate weather, Seattle has long been a brown-goods town. Whiskey tastings here are always packed, and most city bars offer healthy Bourbon and whiskey selections.
But Seattle never had a bar that specializes primarily in handcrafted, imported and domestic whiskey, until Radiator Whiskey opened last April in the city’s famed Pike Place Market. The cozy space seats 48 and has a meat-heavy menu that complements the creative cocktail selection.
Radiator Whiskey is the sibling restaurant of Matt’s in the Market, a high-end seafood spot; both are located in the second-floor level of a building across the street from the main market area. Owner Dan Bugge—a former Pike Place fishmonger who bought Matt’s in 2007—says the cocktail- and meat-centric menu at Radiator serves as a great counterpoint to seafood-focused and wine-driven dining featured at Matt’s.
A UNIQUR TAKE ON WHISKEY
Bar manager Sara Rosales, who Bugge discovered when she was working at the Holiday Inn a few blocks away, has energized and helped to focus the bar’s cocktail program. The menu features a wide assortment of barrel-aged, whiskey-based cocktails priced from $10 to $12.
Radiator commissions its own whiskey production made by Seattle-based distillery 2bar spirits. The idea, Rosales says, was to show the spirit off at a variety of age statements. The bar also features more than 100 different whiskeys, priced from $7 to $58 a pour.
The establishment’s love for whiskey often extends into its promotions: For instance, during the “Cinco de Derby” promotion in May the establishment did Bourbon-based Margaritas and Mint Juleps, which were priced at $8.
About 95% of the base spirits in cocktails sold at Radiator is whiskey, although on a Friday or Saturday night the bar might serve more gin and vodka. Radiator also offers a handful of beers—on draft and in cans, most of which are local—and 13 wines by the glass.
Radiator’s food menu includes some unique meat options, such as Cornflake-Crusted Chicken Livers ($10) and Crispy Beef Lip Terrine ($10). Guests can also reserve a whole pig’s head ($48) to share, Rosales says.
Every item on the food and drink list is seasonal, with many products hailing from the Pike Place market. Radiator’s house-made bitters incorporate local and seasonal Washington produce such as Rainer cherries in the summer.
Much of the bar’s decor was handcrafted by management, and the space has a country cabin feel, with touches like beer taps made from old chair legs, Rosales notes. Light streams in through Radiator’s large windows at the back of the bar, offering a view of the the marquee of Déja Vu, an adult theater/superstore across the street.
The Déja Vu has inspired some of the cocktails, such as the Showgirl. Made with Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Ramazotti Amaro and house-made rhubarb bitters, the drink is priced at $10.
The bulk of the customers are locals, Rosales says, noting that the space isn’t easy to find—visitors typically use some kind of bar application to locate it. But it probably helps that Radiator is a stone’s throw from the Zig Zag, another one of Seattle’s classic cocktail bars. ·