Mount Up

Meet the Taxidermic Animal Heads of Seattle's Bars

...and drink like them too.

By Cassie Sawyer October 7, 2013

I'll have what the moose is having.

Taxidermy has become downright ubiquitous in Seattle's bars and taverns. I never fancied myself a taxidermy type, until I inherited a stuffed jackalope head from my brother-in-law. We call the jackalope Barry. He diligently watches over our entertainment center and acts as our pet, because we don’t have any live ones.

Such is the case of these watering holes' stuffed animal heads. Some have actual cute pet names, but most come with fascinating—and sometimes shady—tales of their acquisition. Here, meet some of these mascots, and drink as the stuffed locals do.

Von Trapp’s
Two Roosevelt elk watch over the bocce and boozers at this German beer hall. They are aptly named Hanz und Franz. The Von Trapp's owners, Deming Maclise and James Weimann—who have a knack for finding quirky and eclectic items to dress their restaurants—got the elk duo from a hunter out of Puyallup. Hanz und Franz don't want to pump you up, but they do want to get you drunk...well, at least Franz does.
Drink like the elk twins: According to bar manager Doug Wargo, Hanz is a bit of a teetotaler—he prefers an ice tea or maybe half a glass of white wine, while his counterpart Franz likes to do it up with a strong doppelbock and a shot of rye.

The Unicorn
Is that a zebra on the wall or have I just had too many Rainbow Bright shots? No, it’s most definitely a zebra. Owner Adam Heimstadt says he bought it off of Craigslist from an airline stewardess. "It had been her grandfather's, who had really been into carnivals and circus animals. He'd loved the circus so much that they played that circus music-song at his funeral.” The zebra is also flanked by a water buffalo named Bruno, with a cigarette perched on his lip, and Henry, the deer who wears a bow tie—among many others. All together there 25 taxidermy buddies overlooking the bar upstairs, and more in Narwhal, the downstairs gaming area. 
Drink like a circus animal: According to Heimstadt, Bruno is the guardian spirit animal of the bar, a heavy smoker, and could take down a gallon shot of well whisky. Whereas the zebra is more of an old, proper lady—actually about 80 years old—and suggests a classic Vesper. 

King’s Hardware
There’s a bit of a scary story behind the moose at King’s. Let's just say it involves meth heads, Arlington, and stained old pillows. Jonah Bergman and Mike Leifer, who was GM of King’s at the time and is currently the GM of Linda’s, found the ad on Craigslist. Good start. They drove out to Arlington to a beautiful old house, but found it pretty much empty with two tenants with questionable recreational habits. Leifer says that after a failed haggling session, “The druggie tenants counted their cash and gave us some damp, stained pillows to protect our moose on the ride home. We promptly gagged, threw the pillows in the trash, and mounted our new taxidermy friend to the wall at King's upon our return.”
Drink like the moose with no name: The moose resides between the skee ball machines and suggests drinking the Bradley, a concoction of Branca Menta, walnut bitters, vanilla simple, and iced coffee—you know, for the caffeine buzz. He is a recovering meth-moose-head, after all. 

Linda’s Tavern
Owner Linda Derschang was at the forefront of taxidermy's reign in Seattle with the hanging of her buffalo head in ’94. Back then you could catch Derschang slanging pitchers of beer behind the bar and she would field questions about her buffalo friend. Sometimes people were impressed; others a bit leery, but most people wanted to know: “Did you shoot it?” Derschang says, “Lying is pretty distasteful, but I don't like to disappoint people. I may have occasionally told a few folks the date, location, and type of rifle I used on my hunting expedition.”
Drink like a water buffalo: The buffalo head (which doesn't have a name!? C'mon, Linda, get with the program) would suggest you wet that whistle with a Buffalo Trace Manhattan, of course.

Assembly Hall Juice and Coffee
The prize-winning elk at the sitting area by T-Doug's new juice bar is named Big Mountain. And big are those antlers. The huge rack is actually a shed from another elk. It was found in the woods and then affixed to Big Mountain. The result is so heavy that Big Mountain stays perched on a podium instead of on the wall. Before you start to picture Tom Douglas in camo with a crossbow (ah, too late), the head came from Mort’s Cabin, a kitschy lighting and furnishing shop in Eastlake.
Drink like the Big Mountain: A shot of Burnside bourbon with a pint of house pressed Washington apple cider. That's my kind of juice bar. 

Sam’s Tavern
This moose has recently been named Gale. Owner James Snyder obtained the head from Canada, then held a public contest to name the beloved moose. Regular bargoer Cale Freepon’s nickname is Gale; the moniker was entered and took the win. But it also spurred a dare and a bribe for charity. Now, said regular is getting a tattoo (his first ever) of Gale the Moose, and Snyder is donating $1,500 to a puppy rescue. How could anyone turn that down? This Freepon seems like a brave, nice guy.
Drink like a moose named Gale: So Gale the Canadian moose would drink, duh, Kokanee, but let’s have a whisky-ginger in toast to his namesake who’s going under the needle for the sake of puppies.


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