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Capitol Cider ready for picking on E Pike

IMG_9622The 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.IMG_9597

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.IMG_9691

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.

You can learn more at or on the Capitol Cider Facebook page.

(Image: @gageacademy)

(Image: @gageacademy)

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22 thoughts on “Capitol Cider ready for picking on E Pike

  1. I checked out Capitol Cider last night, it was great. Nice atmosphere, friendly staff, great ciders. Hopefully the place doesn’t become anything like The Unicorn / Narwhal. That would be tragic.

  2. I went last night too, very happy they have finally opened! The cider selection is solid and nicely representative of our great local and regional cideries. Big ups for having my two favorite Snowdrifts on tap and several Alpenfires available by the glass. Staff was super friendly and I thought the bartenders did a nice job helping people sort through their options if they weren’t sure what to order. Food coming out the of kitchen looked great – they should consider mentioning somewhere on the menu that everything is GF. If they add vegan options I will be there so often that I will have to get my mail forwarded there. heh. Welcome to the neighborhood!!

  3. Can’t wait to check it out! LOVE the fact that everything is GF! I only wish we could bring our GF 10-yr old dauther with us.


    Something must be done. Someone should form a committee to ensure that this place conforms to neighborhood expectations of people who used to eat meat and were childless and demanded that places cater to them but now have changed so the neighborhood must change with them because although they’d rather live in Kirkland, it’s much better to have Kirkland here. This is an outrage and I’m sure someone will not stand for it. I know it isn’t popular to say it, but there should probably be some sort of online petition.

    (Nice work on the GF though. I don’t like salt. I hope this place doesn’t use salt.)

    • There are multiple vegan options there!! The fries for one, are the best in Seattle by far. I’ve also had amazing salads there, a quinoa & a beet salad I believe. Lots of things can be made vegan, calm down and ask the server. So grateful the hill is getting some amazing fare & unlimited cider!

      • You don’t really need to tell Vegans to calm down… they seem pretty chill to me…& won’t eat anything with a face so I’m not worried about VEGAN ZOMBIES… And the comment is satire silly rabbit…

    • Yahoo! I love cider in every shape, form and flavor. I’m so excited to see a Capital Hill bar/rest commit itself to cider! And I’m so bored with all of the GF talk. Uggh. Boring! So many other lively topics of conversation to choose. My sister asked a Jet Blue flight attendant if the popcorn she was taking for free had any gluten in it…the woman was stymied…uhhh, it’s corn and salt? Did you want protein casings with that? That’ll be $5 missy…

  5. Went last night and had a good time. It reminds me of a slightly less hipster version of Smith, with a lot more awesome cider.

    Only gripe is that they don’t have Aspalls on tap, which they told me they would…sigh. It’s nice to try out the local ciders on tap, but nothing beats the UK yummy-ness to me.

  6. We would love to to have Aspall on tap!!!!! Every week we order it, and every week the distributor says it is out of stock. Don’t worry, we are in the process of getting a rotating selection of English ciders on draft, including Aspalls, Weston’s, and many more. Thank you and Cheers!!!!

  7. Not bad. The prices are a bit high and the menu selection is extremely limited – how about a burger on a gluten free bun, with a veggie patty option? The fries are far too greasy.

    I’d go back for a nice happy hour, but I’m not so sure about doing dinner again.

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  9. I’m kinda surprised by this feedback. I came here with a large group from work a couple nights ago, and the colleague who suggested we check it out felt like she had to keep apologizing for how bad it was. Hate to diss on a local establishment, but there was also something about the place that just seemed too formulaic – like Disney World opened a capitol hill-themed restaurant. But, can still proudly say there are a lot of better options in that vicinity. Sorry!

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  11. I was just cut-off from getting two more ciders for me and a friend after putting the bill for the rest of my crew of seven people on my tab. I was not even close to being drunk and so was frustrated and will not be back to your bar. unfortunately because u was really excited to check the place out and had talked my friends into going.

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