Here's some more great news on the heels of this week's James Beard Award nominations: Three Seattle bars and one Seattle bar owner are in the running for the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation's 2020 Spirited Awards, essentially the drinks equivalent of the Beard Awards. In particular, beverage power couple Anu and Chris Elford are swimming in praise: Their Belltown tiki bar Navy Strength (which won Best New American Cocktail Bar in 2018) is nominated for Best American Bar Team; their other Belltown cocktail bar, Rob Roy, is up for Best American Cocktail Bar; and Anu herself is a top-10 contender for Best American Bar Mentor. Rounding out the local nods is Capitol Hill's Rumba, whose extensive rum collection earned a nomination for World's Best Spirits Selection. In 2017, that last award went to another Capitol Hill favorite: Canon.
While you can't currently pull up a bar stool at these high-performing places, you can still support them by taking some of their charms home. Both Rob Roy and Navy Strength, for example, offer cocktail kits to go, while Rumba general manager Jen Akin contributed a recipe to Community Cocktails—a book of 150 drinks by Washington bartenders—which you can download when you donate $20 to the Seattle Hospitality Relief Fund.
The Tales of the Cocktail Foundation will announce the finalists for these international honors June 1 and unveil the winners July 25. Normally, the ceremony takes place in New Orleans at the Tales of the Cocktail festival, a heady mix of education and general merriment, but this year's format will obviously be digital due to social distancing measures in place to limit the spread of Covid-19. For now, check out the local—and, in the case of one author, formerly local—nominees below and the complete list here.
Best American Bar Team
Navy Strength — Seattle, WA
Best American Cocktail Bar
Rob Roy — Seattle, WA
World’s Best Spirits Selection
Rumba — Seattle, WA
Best American Bar Mentor
Best New Book on Drinks Culture, History or Spirits
Last Call: Bartenders on Their Final Drink and the Wisdom and Rituals of Closing Time by Brad Thomas Parsons (a former Seattleite and former Seattle Met contributor)