The Grocery Cocktail & Social has the trappings to be Washington State’s welcoming committee. With around 80 percent of the bar and restaurant ingredients deriving from the evergreen state, you can experience all that Washington has to offer in the state’s southernmost city of Vancouver.
Opened in 2014 by husband-and-wife partners Salty and Cindy Reed, The Grocery Cocktail & Social is a showcase of Washington purveyors in the form of classic cocktails and American comfort food with a Southern influence.
Salty’s extended family hails from the South where the word “grocery” is used as an all encompassing term for foodstuffs whether it be from the garden, the market or take-away from a restaurant. “Personally the term means gathering with community, and spending time with people you love,” he adds. From this came the name.
Moving from Portland to Vancouver in 2005, Salty hasn’t looked back. “I love this community, I love downtown Vancouver,” he says. “There’s so much happening. It’s a big point of pride to be a part of the resurgence of downtown.” Before moving to Vancouver, he was at now-defunct Portland classic Wildwood restaurant as a culinary school extern, and his last gig in Portland before opening his own place in the ‘Couv was at Screendoor. Cindy, the other half of the bar, is the brains behind operations with a background in administration.
The motto of The Grocery is “handmade,” and if you’ve met Salty, you’d know he’s committed to it by way of tattoo; the letters of the word grace his knuckles. From fresh-squeezed juice for cocktails to produce from the farmers market, the goal is always made-by-hand, when possible.
At The Grocery the food is hearty and filling but served in small portions — a perfect accompaniment to a Washington-made beer or classic cocktails. There’s mixed beet “carpaccio,” cornbread-crusted mac n’ cheese and herbed chicken liver pâté on the food menu, while new cocktails rotate quarterly on the drinks menu and feature all Washington-distilled or-bottled spirits.
Come on a Friday, and ask to go back to the hidden Washington Whisk(ey) Parlour, a speakeasy-style bar with all Washington whiskey served with Rainier beer backs. Only open on Fridays from 7-11 p.m., you can hang out with Salty, who is almost always at the helm of this speakeasy-style back bar.
Order the Spooky Mulder from the main bar any day of the week, then make it at home with these local ingredients.
Makes 1 cocktail
1 1/2 ounces Copperworks Barrel Aged Gin
3/4 ounce Cocchi Americano
1/2 ounce amaro
1/4 ounce fernet
1 bar spoon Luxardo cherry syrup
Absinthe, for a spray or wash
Garnish: lemon twist
Combine all ingredients but absinthe in a mixing glass, add ice and stir until well chilled. Mist or wash the rocks glass with the absinthe, then fill with fresh ice. Strain the drink into the prepared rocks glass and garnish with a lemon twist.