The Watering Hole: EVO Tapas Kitchen & Cabaret, 1715 E. Olive Way, 328-5293, CAPITOL HILL
The Atmosphere: Open a little more than a month, EVO is the new slick place to hang out on Capitol Hill. The restaurant features small plates and cocktails with a Mediterranean slant. The consulting chef, KP Panyathong, has a resume that includes The Herbfarm, Spring Hill, and The Met, but the bar is the real draw here.
Near the intersection of Olive and Belmont, EVO sits next door to The Social, a just-as-new nightclub from Pterodactyl Group, so you can understand the importance of a good stiff drink to keep you from being sober while you get your groove on. At EVO, the ceilings are high, the brick walls exposed (as are the various liquor bottles), the music upbeat, and the staff young and eager. But what captures your attention most is the time-lapse photography of various Seattle neighborhoods, from sunrise to sunset, projected on the walls and above the bar on what appears to be a shower curtain.
The Barkeep: Jeff Justice, son of now-retired KIRO-TV anchor Gary Justice. Dad delivered news, while his son delivers booze.
Justice has lived in Seattle all his 33 years. After a combined four years at El Gaucho and Salish Lodge followed by a three-year stint at the Northgate Stanford's, Justice made the move to EVO. "I wanted to get back into the more unique and fine-dining experience, somewhere less corporate," he explains. "So I came down here."
He also has a hidden talent that fits right into EVO's live-entertainment scene. "I DJ, and that's one of the main draws here. They're trying to get me to do some DJing here. I used to DJ when I was in my early 20s, took a break, and just started getting back into it again."
The Drink: A Cucumber Press, made with vanilla-cucumber vodka, gin, a little bit of sour, muddled cucumber, a touch of cucumber syrup, a press (a mix of 7-Up and soda) on top, and a splash of Midori for color. "I chose this one because I've been using a lot of cucumber lately, and I just had some readily available," says Justice. "I think using cucumber makes for a refreshing drink."
The Verdict: It tastes sweet at the beginning, but as soon as you swallow your first sip, a more intense, earthy taste appears seemingly out of nowhere. I loved the sweetness and freshness, while my friend preferred the woodsy aftertaste. The drink was certainly interesting, and prompted a lot of interaction with our bartender, who loved chatting about the different summer cocktails he's designing and the drink he prefers after his shift is over: "These days, I pretty much drink vodka," Justice says. "Ciroc on the rocks."