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

By Jessica Yadegaran


November 9, 2016

This article originally appeared in the November 2016 issue of Seattle Magazine.

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;  

Photography by Peachy Juban-Notter

Pastry: An Affair to Remember

Chef Ewald Notter of Dote Coffee Bar makes it easy to fall in love with pastry and chocolate

Most romances unfold in predictable ways. An invitation for lunch, where you share sandwiches in a loud café, silently wishing your bread was crisper, but never giving up on the idea that one day it might be. An awkward laugh as your fingers touch while you both reach across the table for sugar in that…

TRU2814675 homepage-min

Mix It Up. Try old-school cocktails this holiday season

These 10 drinks may not be on the menu at your local bar, but all pack a punch as well as some colorful history

Editor’s note: A version of this story previously appeared in “Seattle” magazine. Impress your guests this holiday season with these 10 concoctions from a vintage bar guide from Glenn Shaw Creations – supposedly from the 1950s – found in an antique shop in Olympia a few years back. Keep in mind that these drinks may…

image0 square-min

Sip, Slurp, Celebrate at Frank’s Oyster House

Let’s be Frank about Champagne

The best bubbles in Washington state may very well be found at an East Coast-style restaurant in Seattle’s Ravenna neighborhood. That, at least, is the opinion of The Champagne Bureau, USA, which has named Frank’s Oyster House and Champagne Parlor as one of the top 10 bars and restaurants in the nation for the quality…

The apiary at The Lodge at St. Edward State Park.

Seattle Buildings Just Let It Bee

There’s a buzz happening throughout the region

You know the Smith Tower as Seattle’s original skyscraper. You know that the 108-year-old, 38-floor tower was once the tallest building west of the Mississippi.   You may not be aware that the 22nd floor is now home to an apiary containing a thriving colony of thousands of honeybees. It is one of several apiaries located…