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5.5.11: 1960s Cocktail Culture

Space Needle History: Thursday at the Needle

Knute Berger, Writer-in-Residence

Today I settled in at my new Observation Deck desk--a nice little nook looking out at downtown. I have an Eames-designed metal-topped circular table from Space Oddity in Ballard, and a couple of modern red office chairs from IKEA that look very Needle appropriate.

Researching the background of the Needle is to dip back into 1960s cocktail culture. During the world's fair, The Eye of the Needle restaurant offered thirsty visitors an array of themed beverages on a circular menu designed like a compass needle. (You can see one on the table during the romantic dining sequence in the 1963 Elvis movie, It Happened at the World's Fair.)

Here are some of the featured drinks of '62:The Space Needle: "A special drink in a very special container. West Indies rum and flavoring liqueurs create a delightful new taste sensation. $2"

The Cloud Buster: "Smooth--and a little sneaky. A delicate blending of Vodka and Sparkling Champagne. $1.50"

The Haystck: "You'll like finding a Hay Stack in a Needle. A hint of Pineapple, a bit of French Lemon blended with Vodka and Light Rum. $1.50"

Other beverages included Panorama Punch, and an international concoction of multiple liquors and fruit juices called the 'Round the World, made for two or four people and guaranteed to set you spinning from the sound of it.

For serious drinkers, there was a plain Bourbon or Scotch for a buck.

What about the munchies? "Whipped cheddar cheese smoothly blended with Sherry Wine and a bit of Horseradish make a delicious snack to accompany any beverage." Sounds like it was designed to enliven palates dulled by too many Lucky Strikes.

Today's Sky City beverage menu is much more extensive, and continues the creative (and fruity) tradition. It features a Smokin' Martini made with dry ice, Atomic Berry Lemonade with Vodka and Chambord, and a Mad Men Manhattan with Crown Royal, Bing Cherry liqueur, Brandy and Sweet Vermouth. There's also a Millionaire Martini--don't drink it if you have to ask the price ($195). For those who prefer simpler times and drinks, a Bourbon or Scotch is available for $8, which proves that the price of booze has done a lot better than gasoline or housing prices in terms of inflation.

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