Pop Ups

Pioneer Square's Underground Drinking Dens

Walden pours wine at Little Uncle, while the Pharmacy slings cocktails beneath Temple Billiards.

By Allecia Vermillion and Caroline Ferguson July 28, 2014

A rosé from W.T. Vintners on the bar at Walden.

Perhaps you've heard—some bars and restaurants are opening in Pioneer Square? But amidst the splashier arrivals, a few pop-up watering holes have taken root. First came Laika Lounge, serving cocktails and Russian-styled plates in the evening at Trabant Coffee and Chai. It petered out in recent months, but here are two other (literally) underground drinking establishments that operate on the weekends.

Friday and Saturday, 8pm-midnight
On weekends, sommelier Luke Wohlers takes over the bar area at Little Uncle, transforming the 12 seats into a genuinely charming wine bar with the help of way-low lighting and some seriously beautiful stemware. He has assembled an eclectic list of nearly 30 wines, which he serves by the bottle, the glass, and in 2.5-ounce pours. A Coravin and Perlage keep things fresh, so Walden is a rare place where you can sample higher-end wines without committing to an entire bottle. My husband threw down $18.50 for 2.5 ounces of the 2010 Mullineux Granite syrah from South Africa, allowing him to appreciate its nuanced charms even though its $185 bottle price isn't exactly in the budget. Meanwhile, I learned that W.T. Vintners (co-owned by Jeff Lindsay-Thorsen, whom Wohlers sommed with at RN74) makes a rosé, and a fine one at that. Wohlers wanted to create a place where extensive interaction with a sommelier isn't reserved for those who order flashy bottles, and he's got plenty of selections between $8 and $12 a glass. Horizon-broadening charms aside, Walden is just a great place to linger over a glass of blanc de blancs, though I imagine the crowds will swell as word gets out. Can this become a permanent thing, please? —AV

The Pharmacy
Thursday–Saturday, 4pm–2am
If you want a drink at Temple Billiards’ new basement bar, you’ll have to work for it: Track down the entrance (sandwiched between Bar Sajor and Glasshouse Studio off the Occidental Mall), ring the doorbell, then wait for affable head bartender Eduardo Serna to shepherd you down a narrow staircase and into a dim hideaway buried beneath the pool hall. The space is ‘60s-inspired, awash in aqua uplighting, and outfitted with an eclectic mix of sofas, wire chairs, and the odd nook or two. A gin-heavy cocktail menu offers the sort of drinks that Don Draper might imbibe if marooned in Palm Springs: Negronis, Tom Collinses, a few rum punches. No food yet, but Serna says that a menu is in development. A mix of business events, bridal showers, and Temple spillovers have inconsistently filled the midcentury booze grotto since its May opening—according to Serna, business has been off-and-on (during my visit, a friend and I were the only ones there). Volume isn’t the only thing that’s inconsistent at the Pharmacy: a mint julep was balanced, fresh, and bracingly cold, but my gin cocktail tasted like a Sour Patch Kid. —CF



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