Construction challenges have delayed Erik Hakkinen’s forthcoming cocktail bar inside the former Lusty Lady strip club (not to mention the entire plan to transform it into a boutique hotel). But the barman who made a name for himself back at Zig Zag Cafe has another project in the works.
This summer, Hakkinen will open a moody little spot called Roquette at 2232 First Ave, a sliver of storefront situated between two busy Belltown destinations, Local 360 and Umi Sake House. The name is a nod to Paris’s Quartier de la Roquette; Hakkinen lived there for a spell in his 20s and terms the neighborhood “kind of like Paris’s Belltown”—a tradition of diversity and general rowdiness, now drifting into hipsterism.
His new spot will embrace French spirits—vermouth, eau-de-vie, cognac, Armagnac, and their lesser-known kin—but Hakkinen reserves the right to stray into other liquor territory, so his small staff can introduce customers to “a lot of the odd stuff we truly love.” Non-French options will definitely involve sherry and a ton of mezcal, he says. “We’re Oaxaca nerds.”
Hakkinen spent a decade behind the bar at Zig Zag, honing both a nimble knowledge of spirits and an unfussy sense of hospitality. He’s a guy to trust when it comes to esoteric spirits; he predicts Roquette will have about 16 to 20 cocktails on its menu, plus champagne (because, France) and highballs and lower-alcohol cocktail options, especially during early and late-night happy hours.
When Roquette opens, hopefully by late summer, Hakkinen promises a low-lit atmospheric space with a mural of palms (a nod toward France’s overseas territories that produce rhum agricole), 46 seats, and “every kind of ice I can afford to put behind that bar.”
This new bar will be “fancier than most places in Belltown,” he says, “but that’s the point.”