Peter and I have recently had the pleasure of enjoying Hazlewood. We have lived in Ballard for a while now and are kicking ourselves a little bit for not taking more advantage of this little gem on Sundays. Sundays are cheap, and we get to sit at the bar and drink old fashioned, lost cocktails as well as new inspirations (Spring is a time for motivation), and we get to know the talented bartender Sara, who I would say is nothing less than a master of her craft. Also she’s funny. And has a great laugh. And I like her outfits, mostly because I could never pull them off.
First off, let me say that this little nook of a place is probably not really tucked away off of Market St., but it sure feels like it. Basically, it’s an architectural optical illusion. We were really looking for it one day and ended up staring at a tattoo joint (right next door). I’ve considered myself to be an observant person most my life, and for a few minutes this made me feel a little humbled. I’m sure that is the point. Not to humble patrons, but to be covert. If the point wasn’t to be a little elusive, that was quite a good accident. It’s charming, red velvet with hints of mysterious inside. There’s squid ink next to a leather bottle of something on the shelf at the bar. There are beautiful bottles of liquor, glowing red, bright purple and a lovely herbaceous green from the the votives placed behind them. There are amber colors and small spaces everywhere. It is obvious there is a purpose for everything.
We have met Sara twice. Both times we have sat at the bar and had the pleasure of watching her work, interact and create. She gets pretty busy. She still makes amazing cocktails and makes it feel like it’s slow, like it’s a five minute process for each drink, that everything needs to be perfect, that she is not affected by time and by people and by the demand for exactly what it is that she is doing. She comes off acting like she likes it, or at least is just fine by the pressure, even when it could feel like one of those dreams when you’re running away from your burning home, pulled back by some stupid, invisible set of overalls by some stupid, invisible force. Everyone knows what that’s like, right? Less dramatically, she is good at her job and appears to like it very much. Our goal is to try and go as many Sundays as possible, because after nine perfectly crafted cocktails, our bill was ridiculously low, and of course that is always a good thing. More importantly, we’re interested in what makes a good cocktail, how to do it, and why people are into it, aside from tasting amazing. I’m also trying to redefine my negative feelings about gin, which were not created by drinking too much of it one night in high school but because I simply have never cared for that juniper berry strength. I’m learning that it’s quite good with fresh ginger, or in an Aviation (I drank this the traditional way with crème de violette, a sort of soapy, very floral liquer that turned the drink a gray-purple and matched my fingernail polish). Peter and I have this small dream right now of creating our own bitters and being wildly successful at it, and we seem to have a partner here in the bartender at Hazlewood, who would graciously create cocktails based off of our flavor combinations, of which we have a list and will not tell, because obviously that list is going to make us famous. It’s mostly fun to find someone that is as excited as us by drink concoctions and the history, and the stories created while enjoying them.
(That is in fact an illustration of an exploded drink glass. She’s not afraid to admit mistakes).