It’s December 24. Early evening. A bar glows at the north end of Summit Avenue.
A line of Seattleites piled with chunky wool sweaters and scarves and North Face fleece—because it’s always North Face fleece—bends out the front door. Inside, the bartender possesses a mustache of the vintage we once, not so long ago, called ironic. But it, like the Christmas decorations, like the vaguely tiki atmosphere of the bar, has somehow transcended insincerity.
It is not a pornstache, this lawn above the bartender’s mouth. It will not yield to your tired jokes involving the word hipster and references to artisan butter and refrains of Brooklyn or Portland. It’s a thing of beauty, earnest but unfussy, and its owner is too. Watch him fill glass after glass with a singular substance—the reason this tiny bar contains a crowd nearing fire marshal–taunting occupancy.
He’s a one-man assembly line. Pour, sprinkle nutmeg, apply cinnamon stick, slide the glass across the counter, next. Over and over, one hundred times, two hundred times, all night long.
What he serves and the experience of drinking it is No. 9 in this month’s cover story (“49 Things Every Seattleite Must Do”). See, Sun Liquor preps its eggnog weeks in advance, mixing in rum, bourbon, and brandy, and ages it for 30 days before—cruelly—only selling it on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, with occasional, unpredictable availability throughout the month on a scant few store shelves and at the bar’s two locations (we’re partial to the original, on Summit).
But there’s something about that restricted access that, like so many of the other pursuits on our list, makes it special. It draws neighbors out of their Capitol Hill apartments, lures them from tony houses on upper Queen Anne, from all over, really—a tradition dating back to 2006. Folks have been rumored to hail from as far as Everett and Olympia, just to try this super smooth concoction on the two days, Christmas Eve and Christmas, people usually never want to leave their homes or mingle with anyone who’s not family.
I joined in last year. It was my first time. And there’s a thing that happens when you take a sip and take in the sight around you—a throng of holiday revelers from all over the city, the bartender working hard to spread the cheer. You tilt your glass back and the silky off-white drink hits your upper lip and stays. You don’t even realize it until you see it on all the other upper lips around you. The man behind the bar, for now at least, is not the only one with a mustache. Not even close.