EVERETT — Cocktails are back on the menu.
Bars were banned from serving mixed drinks with the March stay-home order that allowed only sealed, bottled beverages and growlers to be sold with food.
No martini during quarantini.
That changed last week when the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board apparently decided we’d been through enough and needed something more to survive the rest of the pandemic.
New rules adopted last week allow bars and restaurants to offer cocktails with any to-go or delivery of a “bona fide complete meal,” which can be an entree.
Other states were already doing it. Washington came late to the party, but it’s reason to celebrate.
“We were floored and excited,” said Thomas Self, co-owner and operator of Hollywood Tavern in Woodinville. “We were ready to launch.”
Customers were ready, as well. The first order last Friday included a cocktail, Self said, as have others since.
At Buck’s American Cafe in Everett, owner James Abbott is mixing it up with drinks that travel well and go with popular menu items.
“It’s more of a one-stop shopping,” Abbott said. “It’s a definite convenience. If people are on the fence about what they’re doing for the night, they know they can get their drinks, appetizer and dinner all at one spot.”
For bars, “it helps keep places viable,” Abbott said. “Everybody was stuck with their full stock of booze and wine and beer.”
The pandemic was a jolt for the Hollywood Tavern, a mainstay in the area. The roadhouse opened in 1947 in a 1922 service station as a popular watering hole for farmers, loggers and mill workers.
People get cocktails who otherwise might not purchase a drink, Self said.
After all, it’s easy enough to open a bottle of wine or beer at home to go with tavern fare, which includes burgers, ribs, Cajun tater tots, fried chicken and fried pickles.
Cocktails are easy, too.
“They are 100% ready for consumption,” Self said. “Add ice and enjoy.”
The three pre-mixed cocktail choices, $9.99 each, are offered curbside only.
So far, the favorite is Wine Country Lemonade, which has vodka, Aperol (an Italian bitter), strawberry, basil, lemonade and brut. Black Barrel Daiquiri has Mount Gay rum, Averna Amaro (an Italian liqueur), lime juice and orange bitters. The Hollywood Paper Plane has bourbon, Averna Amero, Aperol, lime juice and a splash of soda water.
“A lot of these cocktails have four-five-six ingredients,” Self said. “A lot of people don’t have all those ingredients at their home.”
After all, who has a splash of soda water on hand?
At Buck’s, pre-mixed cocktails are sealed in glass mason jars, with curbside and delivery options.
“We stuck with our winners,” Abbott said.
Choices are a Raspberry Lemon Drop for $8, a Cadillac Margarita for $10, or a Bartenders Manhattan, $13. Jar included.
The cafe at 2901 Hewitt Ave. has been operating since 1986. It’s inside the historic Swalwell building that originally housed one of the city’s first banks and later a haberdashery, speakeasy and Pines Tavern. Abbott was hired as a chef in 1997 and took over ownership in 2014. He opened a fine dining restaurant, Abbott’s, in 2017.
Due to the pandemic restrictions, his eateries have gone from a total of about 30 employees to four — a manager and Abbott, his wife and their 15-year-old daughter.
The to-go menu includes steaks, fish tacos, salmon, sweet potato fries and, of course, Buck’s signature peanut-butter pie.
“We’ve been selling a good amount of peanut-butter pie,” Abbott said. “A lot of people buy the whole pie.”
Herald reporter Jerry Cornfield contributed to this story.