Cocktails, fried chicken sandwiches, and soft serve guarantee (socially distanced) summer crowds.

Homer’s fast-casual sibling, Milk Drunk, opens this week to bring Seattle the thing we arguably need most right now: fried chicken sandwiches, waffle fries, and comforting swirls of soft serve.

The space at 2805 Beacon Ave shares a handsome old brick building with Perihelion Brewery on a busy crossroads of Beacon Hill. Inside, in a trim counter service space clad in vanilla and rosé minimalism, chef Logan Cox and his team oversee a lineup of double-fried chicken sandwiches. The classic sports house pickles and iceberg; another version layers on shavings of country ham (Cox hails from Virginia); another deploys date ketchup, cucumbers, and whipped garlic, which is the stealth tastiest thing on the menu over at Homer, Seattle Met’s 2019 Restaurant of the Year.

The food menu here is fairly focused, but does include waffle fries, a Homerian kale salad, and three words I don’t see in proximity nearly enough—“house mozzarella sticks.” Milk Drunk uses rice panko on these, and on the chicken breading, which makes them gluten free. (Update: recipe has changed and most definitely involves gluten.)

Cox and his wife, Sara Knowles, welcomed a daughter last year; their new spot takes its name from the happy aftermath of a sated baby, but also the combo of soft serve and an extremely festive cocktail list. When the couple announced their plans to expand, they probably didn’t imagine they’d be selling their pina colada slushies and two-person adult juice boxes as to-go items, in accordance with current pandemic-driven liquor laws.

Milk Drunk also expands on Homer’s indispensable soft serve window with more machines, more flavors (Buttermilk-lavender! Rainier cherry!), fun toppings like pretzels and cocoa nibs and potato chips, and a handful of hard dips.  Clearly these are turbulent times in which to open a restaurant, but Milk Drunk's food suits this crazy, takeout-centered moment. Online ordering will be active soon; until then, the bar (can you still call something a bar if it's entirely to-go?) is open Wednesday through Sunday from 12–8.

Homer, by the way, reopens Friday for patio dining and takeout from that handy soft serve window. The restaurant pre-emptively closed on July 21 so everyone could get tested and lay low after an employee came in contact with someone who tested positive for Covid.

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