Oliver's to celebrate its 35th anniversary with free martinis and crabcakes
Oliver's, one of the region's longest running hotel bars, is throwing itself a birthday party Thursday.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Thirty-five years is an eternity in the bar racket, so Oliver's Lounge has plenty of stories to tell and people to thank.
Here's how they plan to do it up at their 35th anniversary party Thursday — with tuxedo-shirt and black-cocktail-dress servers handing out free crabcakes and half-size martinis. With live music, complimentary appetizer and dessert tables. With bartenders stationed around the atrium and bar, slinging drinks.
It's Oliver's toast to the two-martini lunches, Murray Stenson and big windows.
The cocktail bar, on the corner of Olive Way and Fourth Avenue, inside the Mayflower Park Hotel, opened as a carnival-theme bar "Carousel Room" in 1949. When Oliver's opened on June 26, 1976, it was one of the most controversial bar debuts in Seattle. The state had just lifted an esoteric law that banned cocktail lounges from having windows (to prevent the public from seeing folks imbibing).
Oliver's put in floor-to-ceiling pane windows to showcase its bar in all its glory. "There were some ticked-off women," said Steve Johansson, the beverage director for the bar and hotel. "Women would walk by and say, 'Oh my God! Look at that. They're drinking and smoking at the bar.' "
Those scandalous windows now serve as one of the city's great people-watching spots downtown, especially during Christmas, when you can see the 12-story-high Christmas tree across the street. The view is majestic when there are snowflakes floating and Christmas carols in the air.
In 1977, Oliver's hired a lad named Murray Stenson, who went on to become one of America's most respected bartenders. Stenson will serve as guest bartender at Oliver's on Thursday.
Oliver's, said Stenson, "may have been the first bar in the city to have an espresso machine at the bar. It was a spectacular, 4-foot-tall, copper and brass Italian espresso maker."
Harvey Wallbangers and Tequila Sunrises were the "in" drinks then. These days, Oliver's, one of the region's longest operating hotel bars, is known for martinis.
Free wine, half-size martinis and a special Champagne cocktail will be handed out. All beer, glass of wine and cocktail on Oliver's drink menu will be 35 percent off.
Oliver's Lounge, 405 Olive Way, will celebrate from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. The event is open to everyone who is 21 or older. (206-623-8700 or www.mayflowerpark.com/olivers.asp).
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