For a city that is mostly gray, Seattle’s Brimmer & Heeltap packs a punch of vibrancy — from its bright white walls and turquoise cushions to its plate presentations and drink garnishes. The decor reads as an eclectic mix of inspiration, which falls parallel — whether consciously or not — to the aesthetic of Seattle local Jen Doak, who spearheads the B&H ship. According to the restaurant’s website, “[Jen] is an avid menu collector, ordained minister, and a collector of new experiences locally and globally.”
According to Foodable Founder and “Across the Bar” host Paul Barron, Brimmer & Heeltap in Seattle is one of the most unique restaurant spaces we’ve seen. “It’s like a new little world every time you turn a corner,” says Tyler Stamon, the concept’s bar manager and expert mixologist.
Stamon started his career at a downtown Seattle wine bar called Purple Cafe & Wine Bar, and despite getting a business degree, he “caught the bug.”
“Bartending wasn’t what it was 10 years ago as it is today. Now, you tell somebody you’re a bartender and they wanna know your story, and what do you do?, and they’re all excited,” says Stamon. “Where before it was like, ‘What’re you gonna do when you grow up? You can’t be Peter Pan forever.”
“This is so fun. I mean, you’re serving people, you’re providing an experience, and you’re telling a story to people,” he says.
And that’s exactly how Stamon approaches his cocktail creations when putting together a drink menu. “I’m trying to tell a complete story. I don’t want somebody to come in that likes vodka and there’s only vodka drinks on there or only whiskey,” he says.
He also takes into consideration the seasonality and what the kitchen is doing, so the food and drink compliment each other.
In this episode of “Across the Bar,” Stamon takes us through the journey of three top cocktails and tells us of how they were inspired and developed.
Cocktail #1: Scallywag Sour
Described as “a riff on an Amaretto Sour” with a twist, this cocktail sneaks up on you.
“I added some cardamon bitters, which cuts down the amaretto a little bit, so you still get that sweetness but then the cardamon kind of plays and gives it more of a spiciness,” says Stamon. “And I just really like it with the naval rum — Jamaican Smith & Cross.” Stamon describes the flavors as “grassy, funky” that stand up to the amaretto, which pulls it all together.
Stamon says the biggest compliment he can receive is when someone orders a cocktail and expects something completely different than what it is — an ode to personal touch and innovation. “People read it and then they think they’re getting this and then you give it to them and it’s like, ‘This is how I think it should be,’ and then it totally comes sideways on them and they’re like, ‘That’s better than I thought it was gonna be.”
.75 oz. rum
.75 oz. amaretto
.75 oz. lemon
1 dash cardamon bitters
Cocktail #2: Isthmus Cocktail
“It’s kind of your brown, bitter, and stirred drink that nobody asks for,” jokes Stamon. This one comes with a big twist. With a base of rye and cognac, “you get the richness of the cognac and the rye kind of comes through, there’s a little bit of heat.”
Melleti amaro gives it a piney taste, and a Giffard banana liqueur is what sets it all off, says Stamon. He decided to serve this cocktail without an ice ball, as you would normally find in such a concoction, because serving it without opens up the flavor possibilities with each sip.
“It’s like a white wine. When you first get it, it’s tight, like not all of those flavors are there,” he says. “But as you keep drinking it, it starts to open up, so every time you take a sip…it’s a different taste almost.”
1 oz. rye1 oz. cognac
.5 oz. Meletti amaro
.25 oz. banane du Brésil
Cocktail #3: New Jack Swing
With a nice aroma and a clean taste, the New Jack Swing is made up of apple jack, Cocchi Torino, and sherry (which gives it “a dry, nutty flavor,” says Stamon).
1.5 oz. Lairds apple jack
.75 oz. Cocchi Torino
.25 oz. Amontillado sherry
In his constant interactions with guests, Stamon has picked up a few things from the modern-day guest.
“The customer’s savvy,” he says. “I’m learning from them just as much as they’re learning from me. They pick up little tidbits when they’re at some other bar. In Seattle, you’ve got a younger crowd, so people eat out like five, six times a week.”
With every interaction and order, Stamon continues to tell a new story through each drink.