The fine tuning is complete. As the state’s apple crop ripens in the golden sun of lovely Royal City, Washington (and Seattle!), the highly anticipated Capitol Cider is open for business — officially — starting Thursday night. Though some of you have already begun working your way through its orchard-deep cider offerings.
The former art gallery transformed into a 4,000 square-foot, two-level cider bar at 818 E Pike features a 30-tap selection of ciders, another 100 bottled ciders and gluten-free pub food. It neighbors French-inspired shop and cooking school Paris Eastside and an in-the-works Starbucks at Pike and Broadway.
Cider is a trend — and also part of Washington State’s agricultural history.
“Drinking fresh cider from the farm is part of our heritage. It’s a traditional American beverage,” first-time pub owner Spencer Reilly told CHS when we first talked with him about the project in August 2012. “There’s a culture of cider in almost every small orchard town.”
The new pub intends to have “the largest array of draft cider in the USA,” according to the announcement of Thursday’s official opening.
Reilly and chef Jordan Sinclair have brought in Phil Thompson, formerly of Coterie Room and Tavern Law, to manage the bar. Or bars.
Capitol Cider intends to be taken seriously for its food in addition to its cider. The pub offers “a gluten-free menu with recipes naturally designed to exclude gluten ingredients; everything offered on the menu is made in-house, from the cold-brew coffee and hand-cut fries to the batter on the fish & chips.” Thompson’s will also be mixing a “craft cocktail program” with “fresh-squeezed juices and ingredients, and features a wide array of liquors, including the largest selection of apple brandy and Calvados in the state.”
Capitol Cider is divided into two levels — each with a full bar fed by the dozens of ciders on tap. Downstairs, cider drinkers will find The Ballast Bar & Gameroom replete with”two 18-foot shuffleboard tables, a stage with a 107-year-old piano, a fireplace and a 20-foot communal table and plenty of room for games and shenanigans. Consider it a cousin to the subterranean Narwhal addition to the Unicorn up E Pike only patrons are playing checkers, not Galaga.
Upstairs, visitors enter into a pub hung salon style with original oil paintings created by students at Capitol Hill’s Gage Academy of Art where Reilly’s mother — who also provided design expertise for Capitol Cider — chairs the board.
Included in the oils is a portrait of founding father John Adams who, we’re told, “attributed his long life and good health to a tankard of cider before breakfast.”
You can choose which Capitol Hill food and drink trend to file the timely project under: from gluten-free experimenters to drinking halls and pubs to single-focus specialties to 2013’s continuing wave of new Hill bars and restaurants — this makes 17, by the way.
Capitol Cider will be open daily, 4p-2a with food until midnight.