The Watering Hole: Manhattan Drugs, 1419 12th Ave., 325-6574, CAPITOL HILL
The Atmosphere: I arrived on the Friday following the big snowstorm of 2012 to a packed, dark house. I could make out a bunch of happy souls surrounded by an ambience sewn from much of the same fabric as the other restaurants in Laura Olson's empire, specifically Grim's. Manhattan Drugs features the same salvaged, dark wood, odd art (like the ram with M-16s at the end of his golden horns), concrete floors, textured wallpaper, and other it's-so-reclaimed-it's-modern decor, as if everything was rubbed with an antique varnish. And if you feel something rub against your leg while sitting at the bar, don't be alarmed—it's just the cowhide paneling saying "Hello."
The Barkeep: Andrew Flewelling has been bartending only two years because he's only 23. Management found him at Purr. Since then he's worked shifts at several Pterodactyl Group hangouts like Grim's and Detention. Flewelling was born and raised in the Seattle area, and is the calmest, coolest-headed bartender I've ever encountered.
He says Manhattan Drugs' clientele is "very eclectic. We have a lot of people who come in and want a good steak, or they come in and they're ready to have a good meal. We actually have some people who are expecting this to be a really big cocktail bar because Canon and Tavern Law are really close. I'm not going to compete with Tavern Law or Canon because I don't have a shot!" he concedes. "So I like to focus on the classics and putting a spin on them."
He interrupts me to have me taste a cocktail he just made. It's spicy, made with green chiles. It's wonderful. He made it for a regular customer who loves spicy stuff. Now she's addicted."I call it the Tiger Lilly," he says.
But Flewelling is less fluffy about what he drinks when he goes out. "I'll usually stick to something really simple, like a citron press made with Ketel One [and] a mix of Sprite and soda. It's not a pain in the butt for the bartender, and I think they're good."
The Drink: I tell Flewelling I like St-Germain and gin. So he makes me a drink with St-Germain and . . . vodka. "How do you feel about ginger?" I told him I loved it. Flewelling's Ginger Blossom consists of citrus vodka, St-Germain, Domaine de Canton (ginger liqueur), lemon juice, and simple syrup.
The Verdict: For a drink that's half liqueur-based, the Ginger Blossom is delightfully boozy. Turns out it was a sneak preview, as it's not on the menu yet. "I'm working on revising the cocktail menu right now. It needs to be bigger. I think people are getting tired of it already!"