Cozy Times and Strong Drink at the Old Ballard Liquor Co.

| FROM THE PRINT EDITION |
 
 
Herrings bord with aquavit, from the Old Ballard Liquor Co.’s cafe

Sipping spirits at the Old Ballard Liquor Co. (OBLC) is a quintessential in-the-know Seattle experience. The nanodistillery, tucked just off the Ballard Bridge across from the Ship Canal, pays homage to Old Ballard’s Scandinavian heritage with its line of caraway-flavored Scandinavian aquavits. And in true Scandinavian fashion, the tiny distillery now serves food to go with them.

Ballard-raised chef Justin Newstrum (formerly of Portage Bay Cafe and Harvest Vine), along with OBLC owner and distiller Lexi, has curated a small menu of inventive, seasonal Nordic bites to accompany the aquavits. Fresh red currants add visual beauty and sprightly acidity to smoked lamb tartare ($12) with alder and juniper. Herrings bord ($13), a plate of five different kinds of herring, is so fresh and expertly prepared, it will erase memories of grandma’s slimy creamed variety.  While weekends offer the largest selection, the three “bords”—cheese, charcuterie and the herring—are always available. 

The dining space is tiny and industrial (I wouldn’t even call it a cafe), with eight–12 seats at a communal table. With the opening of Ballard’s new Nordic Heritage Museum in early 2018, the OBLC is poised to become even more culturally—and culinarily—relevant. Must order: Svea Bakery cardamom sweetbread ($5). 11 a.m.–7 p.m. Fri.–Sun. and daily in Dec. Ballard, 4421 Shilshole Ave. NW; 206.858.8010; oldballardliquorco.com  

Related Content

By day, Carolyn Sellar looks after apes, primates, lions and tigers. By night, she’s one of the country’s foremost authorities on whiskey.

If you ordered dessert at a fancy restaurant, and just learned that the insides of a roasted Japanese sweet potato found new life as a mousse, only to be layered with pear compote and glazed with Valrhona white chocolate after being reshaped into

If there’s a trendy new culinary craze in Seattle, chances are Jody Hall is behind it. Hall, of course, founded Seattle’s iconic Cupcake Royale back in 2003. At the time, it was one of the first cupcake cafés west of New York City.

Thanks to Christian Chan, Seattle will soon become the place where fine dining meets fast food.

In April, Chan will open Bloom, a grab-and-go “fast-fine” restaurant the likes of which he says Seattle has never seen.