Remembering the Carousel Room: Seattle’s First Hotel Cocktail Lounge

The "martini store," as regulars call it, is still cranking out cocktails.

By Tim Appelo

0517_DrinkItIn

May 24, 2017

This article originally appeared in the May 2017 issue of Seattle Magazine.

When the Mayflower Park Hotel opened in 1927, the Seattle Daily Times raved, “Seattle Obtains Large Structure to House Guests!” The 12-story, Renaissance-style gem with stained-glass windows gave Seattle visitors an elegant home, and when liquor by the drink was legalized in 1949, it gave locals and visitors a playful place to hoist a glass. The hotel’s Carousel Room became the city’s first hotel cocktail lounge, with merry-go-round horses hung from the ceiling. There were no windows, due to moralistic “blue laws” that forbade windows in bars, lest passersby glimpse sinful drinking. When blue laws ended in 1976, Birney and Marie Dempcy—who bought the hotel in 1973—restored it and turned The Carousel Room into Oliver’s Lounge, Seattle’s first bar with windows. Known for its martinis, Oliver’s has won Seattle’s Best Martini Challenge so many times (seven) that some regulars simply call it “the martini store.” Mayflower Park Hotel, downtown, 405 Olive Way; 206.623.8700; mayflowerpark.com

 

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