The Chanticleer Society
A Worldwide Organization of Cocktail Enthusiasts

Review: Zig Zag Cafe

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Robert Hess Posted: 27 Nov 2009 5:09 PM
Review: Zig Zag Cafe
1501 Western Avenue (#202)
Seattle, WA 98101
USA
phone: (206) 625-1146
CASUAL - $$$$ - EAT -
The Zig Zag Cafe is one of the best bars in Seattle, and is a regular destination for cocktail enthusiasts around the world. Its casual and unnassuming nature allow it to cater equally to any type of customer who walks thru it's doors. They are open every day, starting at 5pm. Murray Stenson, their head bartender, works Tue-Fri. On those days, if you want a seat at the bar, it is recommended that you get in soon after they open.
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FYI: This was a test posting of the "Guide to Recommended Bars & Cocktail Lounges". The post itself was automatically generated from the details I entered into a form. There were still a couple problems with the process that I need to fix up, but feel free to reply to this discussion thread with any questions or comments you might have about the Zig Zag. The intent is that this thread will provide background and additional information about the various bars and such which are listed.

-Robert

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Thank you for not implementing "stars" or a numerical rating system.

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Martin Doudoroff:
Thank you for not implementing "stars" or a numerical rating system

 

Martin I know you are not keen on it but I don'y think a numerical system is that bad. 

Perhaps though we can ad a Recommended tag on it so that if Said bar is Fantastic it can be recomended by our users.

 

Thus when I search for good bars in Seattle I can see the most recommended bars and who recommends them.

it could also be a great profile addition; "robert Hess" recommends - Zig Zag etc etc etc

 

otherwise it would just be a list of bars.

will we all be able to comment on the different venues after we visit them?

I write even more of this drivel on Drinkmanual.com

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I've got a "star" system built into the database, I just haven't turned it on yet. I can understand your reluctance about setting something like that up Martin, but eventually I think it will become valuable, especially if it actually "means" something. For me, that is part of the key point here. If it is "just" a star system, with the stars given out more by feel then by some sort of understandable value and definition, then it is almost worthless.

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Stars (and numerical ratings) are pretty meaningless outside of relative comparisons and I defy any of you to show me a methodology that would be yield meaningful comparisons. I've been watching “collaboratively filtered” systems for years (Slashdot, iTunes, IMDB, you name it) and not one of their star rating systems is worth a damn. Actually, they're worse than nothing, because they chronically anger and offend. The only alternative I know of is some complex scoring system (e.g., the Zagat approach), and I don't see how we'd get anywhere with that.

My recommendation would be to skip the stars entirely and instead award categorical flags as appropriate. Something like this:

  • Chanticleer Society Award Winner (best of the best; e.g. Zig Zag, Pegu, &tc.)
  • Newcomer (expires after a year)
  • Historical Interest (history + bad drinks; e.g,. Sazerac Bar, King Cole Room, &tc.)

Also, what's the troll policy going to be?

 

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Since this thread is intended to provide "added value" to the Zig Zag entry in the list, let's avoid further discussion about the system itself here. We could instead carry this on here: http://chanticleersociety.org/forums/t/858.aspx

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I think the review is clear, as you get to know what kind of place it is and that it is worth a visit.

Just for the record, I like some kind of rating stars, numbers, tails, whatever...

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Oh hey, just a quick update - Murray no longer works here. He has moved on a few times since, and currently - I believe - is at Cannon. I haven't visited lately, so I don't have a post-Murray review.

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The ZigZag continues to thrive and to be my absolute favorite place to have a drink! Bartenders Erik Haakinen and Ben Perri (along with a staff of the nicest, hardest working and sweetest group of people)  make great drinks and offer amazing hospitality. In unfriendly Seattle it's the only place where you can be sure to get in a conversation with someone at the bar. Somehow the "Seattle Chill" gets left at the door....

Meanwhile, Murray is at Canon a few days a week. I was just there last night for a few drinks and the bar is handsome, much friendlier than I feared (it was only my second visit) and the magic that is Murray has transferred without any change (except that he gets to wear jeans...)! 

Keith

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The Zig Zag was my favorite Seattle bar even before Murray was there. I think one of the key reasons for this is that the owners (Ben and Kacy) are dedicated "craft" bartenders themselves,and so maintaining a particular level of quality and atmosphere is job 1 for them. The ambiance of the Zig Zag is also one of it's draws. It is very casual, very comfortable, and as Keith indicates the clientel is very friendly, with great conversations amongst strangers just part of the experience.

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