Bar Stool Dispatch

Erik Hakkinen's New Bar Roquette Is Open and It Is Lovely

The Belltown bar brings hardcore French vibes and French spirits, too.

By Rosin Saez July 11, 2019

From left to right: Roquette's blue storefront in Belltown; the Normande old fashioned; the bar stools waiting for you inside.

Back in April, Erik Hakkinen brought word that his new bar Roquette was coming soon—and with it, a particularly French inventory of spirits, wines, and ciders. Now, er, quietly as of July 5, Roquette is open in Belltown at 2232 First Avenue.

Right now the cocktail menu is slightly abbreviated with four tipples thus far: the Chambery negroni is a sunshine-yellow tincture whose assertive bitterness gently mellows as it melts around three big ice cubes; a foundation of apple brandy firmly buoys the Normande old fashioned like a boat crossing the English Channel; others are punched-up versions of classics like the Vesper and Mai Tai (at Roquette called Best Vesper and Tai du Mai, respectively). 

Hakkinen says that by the week's end a few more vetted cocktails should appear on the menu, which will build up to 18 or 20 original house drinks eventually. For now, though, it seems industry bar folk and Zig Zag regulars (most of whom knew Hakkinen when he was at the storied Pike Place bar) are drinking their way down the list.

Food will likewise arrive later, but when it does expect a snacky, Euro-styled menu. Think Spanish and French seafood tins, chicharrón, and salaminis, which are dry-aged jerky bites—"like fancy Oberto!" says Hakkinen, who hasn't stopped thinking about them since obsessively eating them at a beer bar in Marseille last year.

Along with the growing drink list are wines, beer, some "super low-octane French ciders, and a couple of bubbs." Hakkinen wants to make sure there are low-ABV options, too, which may sound like he's riding the trend bandwagon, but he says, "It's really just smart drinking." What else: happy hour high balls, three to four non-alcoholic drinks, even some imbued with CBD.

Like the thrumming playlist, which easily shifts from Bobby Womack to Naughty by Nature, Roquette—six tabled areas with matcha-green or cobalt-hued velvet booths, over a dozen dark wood stools at the bar top—lives somewhere between soul (a subtle old-school French vibe permeates everything) and hip-hop (Hakkinen's exacting and measured, but by no means following a rule book here). 

"It sounds corny," admits Hakkinen, "but I just want to have some fun with it."

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