Well-Made Drinks and Charming Noshes at Magnolia’s Oliver’s Twist

Magnolia’s new Oliver’s Twist provides a cozier version of the original without sacrificing taste

By Seattle Mag March 30, 2015


This article originally appeared in the April 2015 issue of Seattle magazine.

Known for the creative cocktails and tasty nibbles served at its Phinney Ridge location, Oliver’s Twist has a new outpost in Magnolia (3217 W McGraw St.; 206.946.1651; oliverstwistseattle.com), and the small spot is perfect for cuddly dates. Opened in the long, thin space that used to host the Nook Café and Swirl wine bar in Magnolia’s village, this Oliver’s Twist follows the same general formula that owners Dan Braun and Sarah Hughes-Giles established in the first incarnation: well-made drinks and charming noshes. But they haven’t just duplicated the entire Phinney Ridge menu; you’ll find some delights specific to this bar, alongside old favorites.

Take cocktails, for example: The legendary, peppery Duff and Blathers (rye, Averna amaro, maraschino liqueur, orange bitters and black pepper tincture; $11) was on this menu, too, when I visited, but there was also the Magnolia-only Artful Dodger ($8), which brings together vodka with Italian artichoke liqueur Cynar, orange juice and Peychaud’s bitters into an herbal and citrus hit. They’ve also whipped up what I consider to be the best new cocktail in town, the refreshing Charley Bates. The cocktail list, created by the owners and bartenders, and which will rotate seasonally, is helpfully divided into three sections: The Fizzy (bubbly drinks), The Spirituous (spirit-forward drinks) and The Sours (drinks with a citrus bent). Each section has classics alongside house-designed drinks.

The food menu also boasts a mix of Oliver’s Twist’s top Phinney choices mingling with new selections. The famous snack-tastic garlic-truffle popcorn ($4.50), which manages to burst with flavor without overdoing it, is one that luckily landed on the Magnolia menu, but I also found a new roasted carrot dish ($9), all dolled up with curry butter, crème fraîche, marjoram and pistachios.
An eclectic and fun decor matches the menu’s creativity. One wall is covered in paint-by-number paintings; another, in framed mirrors; and another, with ’70s-style wallpaper of women’s faces.

You’ll also find an array of candlesticks above the bottles behind the bar, a corner filled with plants, and other ambiance-inducing objects, all under lights dialed down to a romantic dimness. While neighborhood denizens are celebrating having a cocktail-centric spot all their own in the peninsula ’hood, the atmosphere, amiable service and reliable cocktails make it worth a trek for non-Magnolians, too.


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