Food & Drink

Bar Exam

Madison Street's New BottleNeck Lounge

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The best thing about the new BottleNeck Lounge may be that there's nothing all that special about it. The owners did not avail themselves of the opportunity to create, say, a fake cowboy bar, a rendition of an outdoor plaza in Paris, tiki madness, or a repro 1980s nightclub complete with rooftop Lamborghini; they even heroically resisted the apparently near-irresistible charms of the diaphanous curtain. The curtains at the BottleNeck Lounge are flannelly charcoal gray, tidily secured around the windows looking out onto Madison Street. The floor is alternating black and white squares. Five different kinds of chairs stand around four tables—the place is small—and the mismatching feels nice and sensible rather than precious.

It's as if two nice, sensible women decided to open a nice, sensible place to drink in what's becoming a nice, sensible neighborhood. (Along with the prospering of very-upscale Crush and the recent closure of very-not-upscale Chocolate City, formerly known as Deano's, the opening of the BottleNeck further demarcates the area around 23rd and Madison as a gentrification zone.) And there the two women are, sitting at one end of the bar, enthusing about how very, very good the bloody marys are. Many garnishes are spoken of—like the bar itself, opened on Valentine's Day, the bloodies here are a labor of love. They're the best in Seattle, one of the women says to one of her new customers; they contain a secret ingredient. All day on Sunday, she says, this best-in-city bloody mary and a panini-style grilled cheese will be $10: a damn nice (and very sensible) idea.

The one conceptual flight of fancy at the BottleNeck Lounge is the cocktail list. Of drinks named after dogs (and one token cat), it's called the "Hair of the Dog Menu." If you object to abject cuteness, you'd best turn it face-down on the bar and just order a "Chihuahua Boilermaker," a chilled shot of Patrón Silver and a Corona, named after a dog called Pee Wee possessed of enormous, bat-like ears (yes, the cocktail list has photographs). Currently, no live dogs are on the premises. However, should such beast/beverage proximity become legal—which some say is just down a slippery slope from pending legislation to allow dogs in the outdoor seating areas of Washington's restaurants, bars, etc.—it seems safe to assume the BottleNeck Lounge will be carpeted with dogs, doubtless provided with their own menu upon which each drink is named after a human.

The owners are really into dogs, the barkeep explains unnecessarily, standing bathed in the neon light of a vintage beer sign. Some of the dogs depicted on the menu are theirs (lord knows how many they have); others belong to friends and customers. "I'm a cat person," he says cheerfully, "but the last bar I worked at was Purr, so I'm sort of stoked to go from cats to dogs."

bethany@thestranger.com

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