Food & Drink

The Glorious Union of Pie and Booze

Meet the Identical Twins Who Run Seattle's Brand-New Pie Bar

The Glorious Union of Pie and Booze

Kelly O

LIFE OF PIE Natalie Delucchi and Lyss Lewis, living the pie dream.

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The pumpkin pietini.

It's strange to eat pie while drinking, but it's better than you'd expect. Even better than that, and even less expected: drinking a cocktail made of pie. Capitol Hill's Pie Bar specializes in such drinkable desserts. Pie Bar's "pietinis" are like the middles of your favorite pies mixed with booze, served in martini glasses dipped in a butter, sugar, and pastry flour concoction that identical twin owners Lyss Lewis and Natalie Delucchi call "crack." I sat at the bar—the place was packed, not a table to be had—where I had a view of the hydraulic pie press and a row of fresh pies cooling, grandma-style, on a windowsill. The bar's flagstone walls and chandeliers create the atmosphere of a tiny pie castle. I drank a pumpkin pietini ($11) while eating a buttery, melty slice of marionberry/strawberry/apple "Desserted Island" pie à la mode ($8). Maybe it was the vodka, or being served by twins, but simultaneously eating pie and drinking a pie cocktail was slightly dizzying. I felt possibly on the verge of existential thoughts, and definitely of wanting more pie.

Lyss, the former owner of Seattle Pie Company, showed me the pipe she designed to carry the aroma of pie from the bar's oven to the street and the doorbell a neighbor installed in their pie pickup window. "We've both worked as general contractors," she told me. "We did Pie Bar's build-out ourselves. Check out the bathroom!" (Indeed, the bathroom is impressive—the smallest I have ever seen containing a chandelier.) I watched the bar's flat-screen TV after Lyss told me she likes to play a mixture of baseball and Mr. Bean, but seeing only baseball, I accepted with some disappointment that she meant she alternates between the two.

Lyss's first business, Seattle Pie Company, was wildly successful. Her pie was featured in Food & Wine and voted Seattle's best pie by Seattle magazine in 2009. By the time she closed down in 2012, Lyss was producing up to 1,500 pies a day. "I was a little crazy during that time," she says. Being approached to film a high-drama reality show, Life of Pie, about Seattle Pie Company and her family's largely fictionalized life on a houseboat surely contributed to this craziness. "They were like, 'Can you make a pie that looks like a carousel? How about a football?'" she said. I watched the show's pilot, in which she actually creates these items, as well as a pie taller than herself in the shape of the Space Needle. The Oprah network offered Lyss $15,000 an episode for the show, but she felt she didn't have enough control over its content. Watching the pilot, she winced when her grandma said, "Cake is for pansies!" "That was so scripted," she lamented. She plans to create a similar show, on her own terms, in the future.

After Seattle Pie Company closed, Lyss took a long vacation in the San Juans, where she wrote a memoir called Piecology. Upon her return to Seattle, she joined forces with Natalie, who had been bartending in Arizona. Lyss baked pies, Natalie mixed drinks, and thus Pie Bar and the pietini were born. They had worked together before—as teenagers, they served milkshakes at Zeke's Drive In in Gold Bar. The key-lime pietini, made with Licor 43, was both creamy and tart. My favorite was the Dutch apple pietini, which was like an adult version of a Caramel Apple Pop; someone else said it tasted like "a fire in a circus." After scooping out the last drops of the drink with its apple wedge garnish, I asked Natalie what was in it. She replied, "Caramel and about seven kinds of booze. We're going to get you schnockered!"

Lyss prepared slices of Pie Bar's cottage pie ($13) and their farm savory tart ($12) while we discussed the pros and cons of spray-tanning. The farm savory tart was a golden, quiche-like pastry, full of fluffy eggs and goat cheese; hidden pieces of sun-dried tomato made the process of eating it a treasure hunt. Though I was less impressed by the cottage pie—it lacked Pie Bar's immaculate crust, and it should definitely contain peas—the puff of garlic mashed potatoes floating on its foundation of beef and carrots was everything potatoes should be. Both slices came with a good-sized arugula salad topped with goat cheese and shredded beets. So as not to neglect the cream pies, I ordered coconut custard pie, which was served hot, in a martini glass, covered in crunchy toasted coconut and whipped cream.

Lyss and Natalie seemed to be in every corner of the bar at once, dispensing multiple slices of pie, and to have known everybody who came in for years. When asked if people do strange things to pie when they're drunk, Natalie told me about the bar's pie-dough-sculpting competitions. "The winner gets a free slice of pie," she said. "One guy made a really nice pie rose." recommended

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Comments (21) RSS

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Why would they do this? Its like they designed a drink menu for 21 year old girls. Pies are great, but they are not cocktails.
Posted by Digital on June 5, 2013 at 9:52 AM · Report this
Yeah, I totally agree. Pretty dire-sounding.

But from what I remember seeing walking by during construction, it will have a pretty good selection of beer and cider on tap, so there's that...
Posted by Actionsquid on June 5, 2013 at 10:00 AM · Report this
Summary of the press release they taped to their window while doing construction: "Identical twins from Lynnwood open bar on Capitol Hill with inheritance money."

It was so inept I kinda felt bad for them. Maybe SLU would have been a better idea?
Posted by poo-pie on June 5, 2013 at 1:31 PM · Report this
camlux 4
Sounds like a Cheesecake Factory mishap. Bit I don't want to be cruel, so it would be good to try before judging.
Posted by camlux on June 5, 2013 at 3:49 PM · Report this
You stole my line!

Two Bells has been making very good pies from scratch for a couple years now and I've been saying to them the whole time, 'Vodka and pie is like bubble bath for tough guys.'

In fact, I'm sitting at the bar there right now with pie and vodka while posting this...
Posted by CPN on June 5, 2013 at 8:12 PM · Report this
I walked past yesterday and saw one of them madly dragging away on a cigarette outside just before they opened... then she jumped back into the shop and started working. I sure hope she washed her hands and brushed her teeth before she served anyone.

I had thought about going in to check it out, but now I'm not so sure.
Posted by Jenerate on June 6, 2013 at 9:07 AM · Report this

Good call. I'd be scared to try them too. Always better to be safe than sorry.

And we all know it's better to feel safe than to actually 'be' safe...
Posted by CPN on June 6, 2013 at 7:29 PM · Report this
Once you try it you will become a fan. Have been several times and will keep coming back. The Twins are so passionate about their customers and pies. They have 5 stars on Yelp for a reason. I promise you won't be disappointed!
Posted by Pie Bar Fan on June 10, 2013 at 2:10 AM · Report this
Frank Blethen's vodka distiller 9
Posted by Frank Blethen's vodka distiller on June 11, 2013 at 10:53 AM · Report this
disintegrator 10
@6: Oooh, golly. Sounds like they might actually exist as people in the real world, rather than as mere automatons there to provide you with consumer-friendly pleasures. Scary...
Posted by disintegrator on June 11, 2013 at 12:13 PM · Report this
biffp 11
Variety is the spice of life. When I think of pie and booze, I think of Bada Bing, but here someone's thought outside the box.
Posted by biffp on June 11, 2013 at 12:28 PM · Report this
care bear 12
Is their logo still in Curlz MT?
Posted by care bear on June 11, 2013 at 12:31 PM · Report this
chimsquared 13
"Bartending in Arizona" wasn't, i'm sure, meant as a euphemism. But it would be a great one.

Oh, and @6 ... please move.
Posted by chimsquared on June 11, 2013 at 12:32 PM · Report this
The new Cap Hill everyone! Pietinis and platinum highlights!
Posted by pioneer on June 11, 2013 at 1:05 PM · Report this
@6, right, because no one else in the food or bar industry smokes....
Posted by JenV on June 11, 2013 at 1:50 PM · Report this
Gross. Good thing for them, the hill is occupied more and more every day by the kind of people that drink sugar and vodka together. @12, you are right. I totally thought it was Chili Pepper, but I've been out of touch with crappy fonts made for children. Enjoy your little slice of bulls#it, New Hill.
Posted by Old Hill on June 11, 2013 at 2:54 PM · Report this
Are their pie crusts still full of rendered pork fat?

Because even back when I ate meat, I thought that was pretty gross.
Posted by d.p. on June 11, 2013 at 3:42 PM · Report this
Can we all stop calling things "crack," please?
Posted by rca on June 12, 2013 at 6:37 AM · Report this
19 is everything that's wrong with the "new cap hill".I was a queer artist/activist in Seattle in the 90's and recently moved back,but am already planning my escape.The funkiness,multiculturalism and individuality of Seattle is GONE,replaced by overpriced cookie cutter mixed used condos with chain banks and chain eateries on the ground floor,it doesnt feel safe to be queer in cap hill anymore,and you look down broadway and it could be any gentrified,mass-market appeal street in the US.These fake blonde pie-tini (seriously????) dispensing women will fit right in....but the artists,queers and activists seem like theyve mostly moved other cities.
Posted by mariatallchief on June 12, 2013 at 4:29 PM · Report this
God, you people are such ridiculous assholes. I've lived here for 17 years, and I hate what's happened to the neighborhood, too, but this business isn't one of the problems AT ALL.

Some of us actually grow up and don't want to spend every single night at a dingy bar with loud music and kids who don't wear deodorant.

One of the major complaints my husband and I have is that there's practically nowhere mellow to go when you just want to have a quiet night out. Every business is packed to the teeth with loud, obnoxious drunk 20-somethings ALL the time. This is literally a tiny cafe with the most genuine, friendly owners who gave us great service (something that's really damn hard to find here) and made delicious drinks. Who the fuck cares if they're from Lynnwood? Most of the punks I've met in the time I've lived here grew up in the suburbs.

This is a great place to go on a date if you're beyond trying to prove how fucking cool you are and just want to chill and not find yourself surrounded by douchebags.

Posted by virginia mason on June 13, 2013 at 10:10 AM · Report this
camlux 21
Pie. Cocktails. Two of man's greatest inventions. Whether they go together is a valid topic of a real in-depth review. It's not like they area slinging pudding and Kool-Aid. It's pie. And cocktails. Give 'em enough slack to either prove themselves or hang themselves.
Posted by camlux on June 17, 2013 at 4:53 PM · Report this

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