Why I Shall Remain Loyal to Hooverville Forever
February 23, 2010 by Casey Chapman
For wine drinkers, there is always a heartbreaking moment when that vintage you love so well runs out, and you realize one of two things: You’re going to save that last bottle for a special occasion that will never come, or you are about to drink the last bottle you’ll ever have, and you will cling to its memory like Glenn Beck longing for those innocent times of yesteryear. This has recently happened in Seattle, with my quest for Rittenhouse Rye.
For quite some time, I would gather with friends at various watering holes around the city, and enjoy a nice glass of this delectable rye whisky, with its subtle hints of Pennsylvania pine and surprising sweetness that disappears faster than federal bailout money. But slowly, we began to see a disturbing trend: Bars were running out, and were unable to find any in Washington (N.B., in the state of Washington, all liquor stores are owned by the government, and only liquors that the state chooses to stock actually get sold here. Rise Up, Drinkers! Let the state know that we want and deserve choices! Call Gallatin, and let’s have another Whiskey Rebellion!). It was within this slightly panicked frame of mind that we first wandered into Hooverville, on First Avenue.
We initially noted with some measure of glee that Hooverville carried that little bottle of happiness, and seemed moreover to have quite a bit on hand. We therefore began a voyage of self-destruction, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of non-Rittenhouse doom. And so, eventually, the day came. We walked in, and were informed that, unfortunately, there was no more.
But we will continue to return to Hooverville, even if every other bar in the city begins to feature Rittenhouse. Turns out, there is something deeper to appreciate about Hooverville, a reason it has just celebrated a 4th anniversary, and why even a devastating fire could not close this wonderful little watering hole down. In a time in America where every company seems to preach about “brand loyalty” and hire “social media experts” to help them create it, Todd and crew have managed to remember that the greatest of social media, and the most powerful, is that which happens face-to-face. And here’s how:
Return with me, if you will, to that calamitous moment when the realization dawned on all involved that the “Rittenhouse guys” were not going to gain sustenance and wit through the regular channels. At most bars, the bartender would simply say, “sorry, we’re out,” and then stare at you waiting impatiently for you to choose an alternative, or just get the hell out. Not at Hooverville. The bartender there said this: “Oooh, I’m sorry, we are out! We haven’t been able to get any in from the state. Just a minute!” She then turned, picked up the phone, and made a call, refusing to allow us to order anything. A few moments later, Todd came and joined us. He began by apologizing, explained the situation with the supply of Rittenhouse, and then offered to help us find an alternative. He spent a good half hour helping us taste, choose and peruse, until we found one we liked as well.
Now, given this level of commitment to customers, it can come as no surprise that the service is always impeccable. Sean, Dru, everyone there dedicates themselves to making sure you have fun, whether it is with a sly Miami Vice reference or some good-natured ribbing. Your drink is never empty, unless you want it to be that way. The pail in front is always overflowing with peanuts, and yes, the shells go on the floor. Somehow, staff has been put together that understands service as well as ambience, and uses music and personality to create an atmosphere where friends can gather, talk, and enjoy.
And with the mingling smells with hints of pine, there remains a surprising bit of sweetness. Not one that disappears, however. Rather, it lingers with you like the memory of that really good wine you wish you could have again. Turns out, it really isn’t what you drink, it’s where. And where I’ll drink is Hooverville.
Every Day 2pm-2am
1721 1st AVE S
Seattle WA, 98134