For years, I have been one of many that envisioned a bar in the Boathouse. Bars are entertaining, interactive, provide energy and most of all, bars are a quicker way to get a delicious cocktail!
Needless to say, after 20 years at Ray’s, I was thrilled when plans began for the remodel which included a bar. The owners and our entire team committed to looking forward and getting people excited to come to Ray’s again. I believe that our new look, menu and cocktails will do just that!
Last fall, we began brainstorming about what we were looking to achieve with our new bar and how we wanted it to feel. With so much to consider, we chose to partner with Quentin Ertel of Havana Hospitality.
“Ray’s Boathouse is a Seattle icon and institution, so the idea of tinkering with it at all rattled the nerves a bit,” Ertel said.
But his fresh perspective and expertise set the stage of leisure, rum and a sense of cocktail history.
“The new cocktails had to honor the past but also be forward looking, so mixing more obscure classics with new and original creations made a lot of sense,” Ertel added. “People have been in love with Ray’s for years, so the historical drinks served as an anchor, if you will, while the new drinks look toward the future and create a lot of fun synergy with the kitchen, which is creating really great food.”
While the Boathouse continues to offer a broad range of spirits, we have designed rum to be the backbone of the bar.
“Once we got comfortable with changing things up a bit, we started thinking about a spirit that was delicious and had a lot of depth, that related to the fantastic view of the water at Ray’s and would tie into the aesthetic of the remodel. And rum was the perfect choice,” Ertel said.
We spent several afternoons tasting a broad range of rums to build a moderate selection with varying characteristics. Our bar features a weekly rum flight that offers three 1 ounce pours so you can taste the unique qualities. The dessert menu also features a pairing of rum and housemade caramels designed by our pastry chef Lorna Stokes.
As Quentin began work developing cocktails and our construction team built the restaurant, we began interviewing bartenders to staff the new bar. This process included an audition of crafting several cocktails for the interview team to sample while answering questions. While this wasn’t your typical interview process, we felt it was imperative to build a talented team that would also add to the entertainment component of the bar.
The passion for bartending was evident as their talents brought forth housemade syrups, unique spirits and even crafty garnishes that our team continues to talk about! Once Adam, Ben, Clint, Jeff and Michael were hired, they bonded while stocking product into the new space and preparing for opening night, while learning cocktails under Quentin’s watchful eye.
I feel fortunate to be able to enjoy the Seattle food and beverage scene. The nation’s foodies are taking note of Seattle now and rightfully so. The restaurant industry is all about socializing… entertaining… celebrating. I’ve enjoyed years of these stories and know how many lives Ray’s has been a part of. I look forward to a new generation of stories being told… across the bar.