Sassafras, sarsaparilla, and vanilla: above all, these are the flavors celebrated by The Root Beer Store, which is chock-full of root beers from around the country. Owner Corey Anderson grew up making root beer with his dad, generating his admiration for root-beer culture. Anderson was featured on King 5 for his passion for the soft drink, which manifests in his selection of more than 100 types from craft root-beer makers. From Hawaii to Maine to Australia, the creativity of each brewer shines in the collection, which customers browse with visions of ice cubes and ice cream to accompany them. The staff is on hand to help home brewers make their own soda with root-beer kits, extracts from different brewers, and the lyrics to the chant sung to the root-beer lord before starting each batch.
With the help of his uncle Tom Campbell, who just happens to be a seasoned enologist and viticulturist, Bijal Shah and his wife Sinead founded The Woodhouse Wine Estates in 2004. The winery's vintages are brought to life by Jean Claude Beck, whose winemaking genes reach back to Alsace, France, where his family estate has been crafting wine since 1579. The team at Woodhouse focuses on expressing the unique terroir of each grape’s origin, yielding balanced, mature wines marked by full flavors. Inside the tasting room, chandeliers sparkle over a long bar, where visitors can sip pours of any number of select wines.
The bracing Italian-style brandy known as grappa flows from a vintage hammered-copper still and into oak barrels for aging at Soft Tail Spirits, a craft distillery that gathers its grape pressings from local Washington wineries. An Old-World still's 58,000-BTU burners boil up fresh batches of grappa, with characters of pear and apple-tinged Giallo and the pleasingly grainy sangiovese. Meanwhile, a multistep distillation process whips up batches of Soft Tail Spirits' sipping vodka, the slightly rebellious offspring of Washington State apples that took home the bronze at the 2010 World Spirits Competition in San Francisco. Lead distiller Matthew welcomes visitors to the distillery for tours in which he shows off the facility, including the hammered-copper alembic he affectionately calls “Maggie,” before doling out samples and bestowing grappa converts with souvenir glassware for future bacchanalian feasts or Flat Earth Society meetings.
Sky River Meadery turns honey into wine, or mead to be exact. Since 1997, the meadery has produced its own award-winning blends of mead, a fermented-honey beverage that has been lauded for centuries for its subtly sweet taste. Thought to bring strength, wit, and poetry, Mead was the drink of many ancient kings and poets. Sky River, which is owned and operated by women, introduces guests to its meads in a large onsite tasting room. There, customers can experience the sweet, dry, and raspberry-enhanced meads, finished with a touch of berries, apples, and grassy notes, which pair well with curries, ginger, and salsas.
Sky River Meadery also showcases local art in its gallery space, offers other bee products—including candles and honey—and encourages picnicking among the gardens and display bee hives.
From their winery in Walla Walla to their tasting rooms in Redmond and Woodinville, Karen La Bonte and Ed Dudley of Patit Creek Cellars demonstrate their devotion to artisan wine. They carefully select and squish grapes to produce their flagship style of cabernet sauvignon, which carefully balances savory and fruit profiles, and the merlot, which pins aromas of black cherry and chocolate with undertones of dried herbs. They also fill glasses with white varieties that include chardonnay and a dry riesling. In their winery’s Tuscan-style building, which boasts a cozy fireplace and a breezy covered patio, patrons sample new releases and sip wines by the glass when not creating symphonies with the glasses’ rims.