First Impressions: Radiator Whiskey (Seattle, WA)

Pacific Northwest... you're like a stargate to awesome!

Pacific Northwest… you’re like a stargate to awesome!

As if I needed one more reason to love living in Seattle, I recently discovered (by accident) another awesome eatery worth mentioning. It was a friend’s birthday and she picked the restaurant by internet roulette. The gamble paid off in spades!


Chris says "No pretentiousness here!"

Chris says “No pretentiousness here!”

Radiator Whiskey is tucked into the third floor of a downtown building caddy-cornered to Pike Place Market. I walked right by it the first time, not seeing the sidewalk sign with conspicuously placed logo. There were no bells or lights announcing the hole in the wall; just follow the stairs until you wander into a small space that smells like meat, books, and over 100 variety of whiskeys from around the world. (Literally! They offer delicious selections from India and Japan!)


The menu contains items summoned from your darkest desires...

The menu contains items summoned from your darkest desires…

From first impression to last, Radiator Whiskey was designed to please my gastronomic senses. As soon as I sat down, the birthday girl shoved a huge plate of tater-tots with a fried egg on top in front of me. Before I can get a couple bites down, the table is passing around cornflake crusted chicken liver. Reeling from deliciousness, the waitress asks what I’d like to drink. I quickly scanned the whiskey selection and picked the house named swill, specially crafted by local 2Bar Spirits for the restaurant. It was young, but strong and well enhanced my next bite of beautifully smoked chicken. My wife somehow managed to order some side salads that used spice and cheese liberally.

Whiskey kegs... on tap... my god, it's full of stars...

Whiskey kegs… on tap… my god, it’s full of stars…

Taking a moment to rest from food-overload, I walked around the space. The next door strip-club neon flashed dramatically into the street side windows. The bar had a giant whiskey barrel tap system that I had never seen before. The chefs can be admired from almost every angle as they use arcane secrets to produce their sinful wares. A giant sign above the door featured all the names for “moonshine,” which added to my vocabulary. There were a number of small barrels apparently aging home brew for restaurant use. A giant chalk board featured specials of the day. The place felt cozy, local and genuine.

I was sorely tempted to take one of these home with me...

I was sorely tempted to take one of these home with me…

Sitting back down, I ordered one of their Manhattan Project cocktail varieties; the Oppenheimer (rye, vermouth, house chipotle bitters). While I am not normally a cocktail gentleman, I was very impressed by this take on a classic. I am really enjoying how local eateries are infusing hot peppers into different spirits… just a few weeks ago I enjoyed a fruity ghost-pepper infused mezcal that blew me away. The chipotle bitters in the Oppenheimer really gave the drink a rustic kick.

There's maple-glazed bacon offered on this board...

There’s maple-glazed bacon offered on this board…


Finally, the table was passing around dessert. A plate goes by with two gigantic chocolate chip cookies and a glass of whiskey. (really–it’s on the menu) Another included bourbon ice cream. At this point, I was seriously considering dying in order to preserve the neurochemical bliss my brain was sloshing around in. While finishing my cocktail, a plate was being delivered to another table–an entire half of a pig head. Apparently it will feed three to four for $40 and is the must have item on the menu.


You will not be disappointed...

You will not be disappointed…

I came to a few conclusions as we left for the night: One, I do not make enough money to support how much I want to hang out at Radiator Whiskey; two, I was really impressed at the friendliness and openness of the staff and cooks; three, I would definitely recommend all my friends who visit Seattle to come in and enjoy all Radiator has to offer.


About Justin Almeida

Coffee roaster, beer brewer, spirit distiller, capsaicin addict, active activist, peaceful warrior.
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