Belltown’s Bathtub Gin: Another “Speakeasy”
The wildlife biologist is talking to the ATM repairman at the bar at Bathtub Gin & Co. The ATM repairman's hobby, it emerges, is scuba diving in Puget Sound to count and tag sixgill sharks with the Seattle Aquarium, where he used to be an octopus wrangler. He recounts the dive in which he narrowly evaded a shark attack; you jab them just behind the eye, he says, because if you jab them directly in the eye, you could hurt them. It also emerges that breaking into an ATM is simpler than you'd think—not that you won't get caught, just that it's not that hard. The wildlife biologist and the ATM repairman happen to be Belltown neighbors, and they know the barkeep. The barkeep's ladyfriend, come to find out, runs the bar and also manages the Humphrey Apartments upstairs.
Bathtub Gin used to be the building's boiler room, and then it was someone's apartment (he was quite a character, according to the wildlife biologist, the ATM repairman, and the barkeep). The barkeep and the ladyfriend were in there after the character's departure, and one said to the other, "This should be a bar!" The barkeep installed the dark wood bar and the pressed tin ceiling, and a couple months ago, Bathtub Gin was born.
You enter Bathtub Gin from the alley—its sign is a little brass plaque. With that, and the name, the tin ceiling, the shabby chandelier, and the craft cocktails, Bathtub Gin clearly falls under the speakeasy-style trend (along with Tavern Law and Knee High Stocking Co. in Seattle and a pandemic of other bars around the country). But there's no ceremony at the door, no secret lounge; the barkeep wears a T-shirt. The brick walls and the squirrelly space—the six-seat, low-ceilinged bar is wedged upstairs; downstairs is a pair of small subterranean rooms with lamps and couches—make Bathtub Gin feel like it's exactly what it ought to be.
Later on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, the Belltown crowd arrives, loudly congratulating each other on finding a new place and shouting at the barkeep, "Can I get a scotch, a G and T, and another scotch?" But in the pre-party hours, the Seattle freeze is thoroughly thawed in the most beautiful way. That's when you'll find the wildlife biologist and the ATM repairman, or maybe a woman and her two gay boyfriends showing her new pink sneakers to an Englishman intermittently reading a book. (On the shelf: dozens of volumes on mixology and wine and beer, Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, and Anaïs Nin's Delta of Venus, among other things.) The Shadowboxer, made with gin, calvados, maraschino, lemon, and egg white, is particularly good, and the Bobby Love margarita is made with house-peppered reposado tequila. All the listed cocktails are $9. The pistachio nuts are free.