Located off of Elliot Avenue in Seattle’s Interbay neighborhood between Lower West Queen Anne and Downtown, Citizen Six has something for everyone. Bonding cider with spirits and bar grub with an uncommon fusion of Mexican and Korean influence, the railroad-side spot has surely snagged a niche like no other.
Walking in you’ll feel as though you’ve found the medium between forest and dining car. Metal bar surfaces and chairs are softened by thick, round wooden tables and various tree-trimmed furnishings crafted from two Sequoia trees from neighboring locales Magnolia and Queen Anne – each Sequoia passed on from natural causes and found its way into the welcoming arms of Citizen Six and craftsman Mike Allenbach. A free-hand mural completed by artist Andy Eccleshall stretches across the wall behind the bar, depicting the Sierra Nevada mountain range in all its West Coast glory and reading “onward,” as the trains press on behind you. The Sierra Nevada theme extends to Citizen Six’s namesake, the Number Six tunnel connecting the east to the west in the mountain range.
Rows of sophisticated bottles line up before the mural, some of which are distilled and bottled on-site by partner SixSpirits Distillery; spiced rum, silver rum, applejack rum and gin are the current house-made imbibements, soon to be accompanied by whiskey. SixSpirits’ sister company, Number 6 Cider, is also crafted in-house, proving a satisfying pair for the Mexican-Korean plates gracing Citizen Six’s menu. Cider option stand-outs include the popular True Original, the Honey Ginger and the Coffee cider among others.
With the help of bar manager Scott Rixe I was able to navigate a scene in which Korean-marinated beef tacos mingle with the likes of pork chili verde, and ginger cider swirls into a mix of rye, ancho liquor, lemon and Angostura bitters – creating the Conductor cocktail, just one of the railroad-themed drinks that comes to life behind the bar. Per Rixe’s suggestion, I started off with a special off-the-menu cocktail, the Interbay, aptly named after the bar’s location; SixSpirits signature No. 6 Botanical Gin stars here with a splash of Yellow Chartreuse and Lillet Rose, garnished with a lemon twist. The result is slightly floral, slightly earthy with herbal undertones provided by the chartreuse – a classy pre-meal sipper.
Citizen Six’s spicy tofu bowl was an unlikely follow-up to gin, but in fact the perfect transition into my next drink, a pint of No. 6 Dry & Crisp cider. Crunchy bites of tofu were marinated in Citizen Six’s signature sweet and spicy glaze, thrown in a bowl with black beans, white rice, kimchi and topped with an egg – exactly the Mexican-Korean hybrid you might expect, and it paired perfectly with the cider’s tart green apple character.
Other choices at our table included the marinated sirloin steak bowl – tender strips of marinated steak, sautéed mushrooms, onions, black beans, shredded lettuce and the house spicy cucumber mix served over white rice; the Korean beef burger topped with caramelized onion, Sriracha mayo and mushrooms on a potato bun; and of course, a plate of sweet potato fries to finish it all off and calm the amped-up palate.
The theme of our meals was heat, spice, and everything seemingly marinated twice – maybe this is how your tastebuds convince you to keep ordering drinks? Either way, the cidery and distillery has no trouble satisfying your liquid cravings, so do press “onward” as the mural would have you. Sipping classic cocktails with a twist amidst a Sequoia-tree-inspired ambiance along Seattle’s railroad-track-lined Puget Sound, noshing on a new generation of funky food whilst listening to jazzy tunes – it all adds up to one offbeat yet harmonic experience.