Venik Allows You to Bathe in Vodka

Suits required.

"Nectar of the gods" was what danced into my mind the moment the chilled combination of honey- and fig-infused vodkas, shaken and served ice cold (and with a side of pungent, salty feta cheese), passed my lips. The indulgent, enlightened combination is only amplified by the fact that Venik Lounge, the provider of this gorgeous beverage, is the watering-hole outpost to Banya 5, an urban bathhouse (the two share owners) with soaking pools and saunas. The whole compound affords a mini-retreat to ancient Rome (though the baths are technically considered Russian) smack in the middle of not-so-olde Allen towne. "There are a ton of creative businesses in the area—SIFF, KEXP, Jones Soda—so our crowd is fairly art-centric," imparts our statuesque blond server Katanya. She warns that both lounge and baths can get crazy on Friday nights (not too crazy though; bathing suits are required), and recommends visiting the intimate lounge first for a pre-bath shot of vodka, sweating it out, and then coming back for more. With selections dressed in names like "Health Vodka" (infused with garlic and pepper), the gap between getting liquored up and going to yoga seems to delightfully (if delusionally) narrow. A vanilla-bean vodka gives off the slight, burning aroma of rubbing alcohol, but is boosted by its two generous companion hunks of milk chocolate. An oasis in the still-construction-laden SLU, these adjoining hot spots are a pair that Caesar would most definitely approve of. Save, perhaps, for the requisite suits. 227 Ninth Ave. N., 223-3734, 

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