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View Full Version : A MUST Visit: Canon in Seattle, WA



mrviognier
04-04-2012, 07:35
Have been spending a few days in Seattle, interviewing potential distributors. Yesterday afternoon I had the good fortune of spending some time with Jamie Boudreau, owner/head barkeep at Canon (http://www.canonseattle.com). Opened seven months ago, Canon might be small in size, but it's HUGE in terms of its selection of American Whiskey.

Words don't do it justice. Want pre-prohibition Rye? There's plenty to be had here. Old S-W juice? Sure. There are labels available to sample that haven't been around in decades. You can view the latest copy of the ever-changing Captain's List here (http://www.canonseattle.com/CaptainsList/captain.pdf).

And, oh yeah, he has a pretty impressive selection of whiskies from other parts of the world, too...plus other spirits.

To be sure, the price tag is hefty should you want to explore some of these treasures...but there's plenty of depth in the recent & currently-available releases, too. And there's something special to be drinking in the presence of SO MANY great bottles, not to mention in the presence of Jamie's enthusiasm for whiskey.

If you live in or are going to visit the Seattle area, you need to beat feet to this place soon!

dridge11
04-04-2012, 07:46
I'll be in Seattle next weekend. However, I think this place looks dangerous and I should stay away. Insane list!

wmpevans
04-04-2012, 07:47
Amazing selection.

Amazing prices $$$. :bigeyes: :bigeyes:

Makes me feel a lot better(I'm in justification mode here) about $$$ I've spent stocking the bunker. :grin: :grin:

mrviognier
04-04-2012, 07:55
As I tell my wife, "It's only money!"

And, yes, as you''d expect, that excuse doesn't always work with her. :grin:

drunk
04-04-2012, 08:02
Did you ask the owner how often he sells $900 glasses of bourbon?

mrviognier
04-04-2012, 08:06
Did you ask the owner how often he sells $900 glasses of bourbon?

As I said, they're not cheap...but just as legitimate a question would be: "How often in your life will you have the opportunity to taste these whiskies?"

White Dog
04-04-2012, 08:12
No Dixie Dew?!? Meh

drunk
04-04-2012, 08:24
As I said, they're not cheap...but just as legitimate a question would be: "How often in your life will you have the opportunity to taste these whiskies?"

No, seriously. Did you ask him? I'm not judging, I'm really curious how many people throw down to try them.

Trey Manthey
04-04-2012, 09:44
Wow! I'm heading to Seattle next month and this will be a stop. Have you seen the pictures (http://www.flickr.com/photos/67033917@N02/sets/72157627567352290/with/6391212137/) of the place? I want to live there:

CaptainQ
04-04-2012, 10:06
As I said, they're not cheap...but just as legitimate a question would be: "How often in your life will you have the opportunity to taste these whiskies?"

Tomorrow at Jake's house. :grin:

andykeck
04-04-2012, 11:15
Make sure to order a glass of the 1890 Amer Picon, a bargain at only $1,500 a pop.

As good as their whiskey selection is, when I'm at Canon, I prefer to do the roulette or whatever they call it. You tell the bartender an ingredient or a flavor, and they come up with something based on that. I've discovered some really fantastic liqueurs that I had never heard of, let alone tasted, by letting them pick for me.

CorvallisCracker
04-04-2012, 14:39
Tomorrow at Jake's house. :grin:

I should take off early tomorrow and drive up. I could pick up some more Weller 12 while I'm up there.

BFerguson
04-04-2012, 14:52
This is when it's good to probably have a company expense account, and write it off as "research":grin:

Mind blowing selection, it's almost like walking back in time.

B

Tico
04-04-2012, 14:59
Wow, that list is incredible!

nivto
04-04-2012, 16:21
I should take off early tomorrow and drive up. I could pick up some more Weller 12 while I'm up there.

It'd be great to finally meet you!

SMOWK
04-04-2012, 16:37
It sounds like they are pricing the older stuff so that they aren't pouring it often and it can sit on the shelf and look pretty adding to the ambiance.

CaptainQ
04-04-2012, 16:42
I should take off early tomorrow and drive up. I could pick up some more Weller 12 while I'm up there.

Yes you should Scott.

bad_scientist
04-04-2012, 17:07
Uhhh.... $29 for a glass of the Willett 5 year rye? $45 for glass of the BT Single Oak Project bottles? $45 for a glass of the BT Experimental Oat? I'll be back with more ridiculous prices on that menu, unless anyone else would like to join in on the fun.

AaronWF
04-04-2012, 18:07
Uhhh.... $29 for a glass of the Willett 5 year rye? $45 for glass of the BT Single Oak Project bottles? $45 for a glass of the BT Experimental Oat? I'll be back with more ridiculous prices on that menu, unless anyone else would like to join in on the fun.

$99 for Michter 25yo Rye? I had a pour of this, and it's fantastic, but it retails for around $350 and the bar where i had it got it straight from the distributor for less than $200, maybe even less than $150, if I remember correctly. Actually, at first they were charged $25 because the distributor screwed up and thought they were delivering the 10-year, but the bar was honest about it.

$25 for a nice size pour where I had it here in Chicago. It was worth it, but I wouldn't pay much [if any] more.

CaptainQ
04-04-2012, 18:09
It sounds like they are pricing the older stuff so that they aren't pouring it often and it can sit on the shelf and look pretty adding to the ambiance.

And remember it's expensive to be a hipster in this town.

Rockefeller
04-04-2012, 18:33
Those prices might be justified (no pun intended) for NYC, but it's in Seattle ... and not even really nice Seattle.

Quick glance, they have PVW 15-20-23 but NOT ORVW 10/90, 10/107, LotB or VWFRR. I suspect this is a trying-too-hard place that I can just go to Brooklyn to find.

I hope they realize you aren't truly a hipster bourbon bar until you start making your own barrel-aged cocktails.

SMOWK
04-04-2012, 18:41
And remember it's expensive to be a hipster in this town.


I hope they realize you aren't truly a hipster bourbon bar until you start making your own barrel-aged cocktails.

How many hipsters does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

12. 1 to change the bulb, and 11 to discuss why it was cooler without a bulb.

mrviognier
04-05-2012, 06:05
Now THAT'S funny.

No, Canon doesn't fall into the "hipster" bar category. These folks are pretty passionate. As for cost, I don't begrudge Jamie. The chance that he's able to replace many of the bottles in his collection is about the same as me being able to ride the space shuttle.

As to the more-recent, higher-end bottlings, Washington State really didn't get much allocated to them. Now, post-1183, I suspect that will start to change.

wadewood
04-05-2012, 06:22
How is he able to sell these older pours since they were not bought through the state? Even with the change in the retail laws in WA, the state government still gets their cut on bar sales.

I used to hang out at a very popular bar in Seattle that had great bourbon selection. They occasionally had some bottles they were not available in WA. Heck, maybe I even helped with that. But they were also very cautious about it because selling these would be illegal. They never put these on the menu with a price. For the most part, they just poured these as "samples" to the regulars.

mrviognier
04-05-2012, 09:21
As I understand it, as long as you pay the tax, the State is ambivalent. There's change a-coming.

The BIG change I see is going to come when the consumer realizes that he's been had. The underlying theme with pro-1183 folks is that it will be a windfall for the consumer. With the taxes in place, the average consumer used to buying a $25 bottle of vodka is going to see that bottle ring up at $35 after tax.

I suspect they'll be some VERY pissed off Washingtonians within the next two months.

CorvallisCracker
04-05-2012, 09:21
I should take off early tomorrow and drive up. I could pick up some more Weller 12 while I'm up there.


Yes you should Scott.


It'd be great to finally meet you!

Not in the cards, I'm afraid. Turns out that I have to work late this eve because of a customer reconfiguration project. Plus tomorrow I have to prepare for a infrastructure upgrade here that I'm doing on Saturday.

But soon. I am cautiously optimistic that a certain acquisition will be coming together in the next couple of weeks (the one that involves the flaky artist lady)(the one with the crazy hoarder husband).

It would be nice to bring a bottle of that up. We could sit around pretending we paid $800 a glass for it. :lol:

andykeck
04-05-2012, 09:49
As I understand it, as long as you pay the tax, the State is ambivalent. There's change a-coming.

The BIG change I see is going to come when the consumer realizes that he's been had. The underlying theme with pro-1183 folks is that it will be a windfall for the consumer. With the taxes in place, the average consumer used to buying a $25 bottle of vodka is going to see that bottle ring up at $35 after tax.

I suspect they'll be some VERY pissed off Washingtonians within the next two months.

I can't speak for anyone but myself, but my support for 1183 was based on convenience and selection, and not on price. And while I don't expect prices to come down, I also (after a settling in period) don't expect hikes either.

LostBottle
04-05-2012, 10:11
I don't want to derail this conversation, but I fully expect to see price hikes, at least on the good stuff. With demand far outweighing supply on the top shelf bourbon and rye, private retailers will price accordingly. Although you had to stand in line and beg a state store for a bottle of Saz or VWFRR, the price was fair.

Not that I defend the state system - I had enough when a store with a few bottles of Saz would not sell to average customers because they were reserving it only for the restaurants. I wold have preferred this allocation go to stores like Clearview where they genuinely care about whiskey and are actually helpful to their customers.

In regards to Canon, while the prices may be high, that selection is unbelievable!

mrviognier
04-05-2012, 10:13
I can't speak for anyone but myself, but my support for 1183 was based on convenience and selection, and not on price.

Certainly it will be much easier for craft distillers to get their products into distribution than it has been. In our case, High West was a special-order item, and - as soon as we appoint a distributor - will soon be readily available to those stores/bars that want us.


And while I don't expect prices to come down, I also (after a settling in period) don't expect hikes either.

Wish I could tell you that your expectations are well-founded, but they're not. Washington will impose a 17% "WA Retailer Fee", which will be added to the shelf price. On TOP of this, they will add a 20.5% sales tax AND a tax of $3.77 per liter (about $2.83 per 750ml).

So, a 750ml bottle that you've been paying $20 for will now be around $24 on the shelf. And your out the door price is going to be $31.75.

mrviognier
04-05-2012, 10:17
With demand far outweighing supply on the top shelf bourbon and rye, private retailers will price accordingly.

Having just spent a few days with the top wholesalers in the state, I can tell you that the appearance of price gouging will be less attributable to the wholesaler/retailer, and more (MUCH more) on the shoulders of the State.

CorvallisCracker
04-05-2012, 10:20
Having just spent a few days with the top wholesalers in the state, I can tell you that the appearance of price gouging will be less attributable to the wholesaler/retailer, and more (MUCH more) on the shoulders of the State.

Which is why any initiative in Oregon to privatize will need to be accompanied by an initiative to prevent the state from tacking on exorbitant fees and taxes.

LostBottle
04-05-2012, 10:32
Certainly it will be much easier for craft distillers to get their products into distribution than it has been. In our case, High West was a special-order item, and - as soon as we appoint a distributor - will soon be readily available to those stores/bars that want us.


A silver lining, indeed!

mrviognier
04-05-2012, 10:36
I suspect the folks who'll really take to the steps of the State capital with pitchforks are the ones who buy Smirnoff, Bacardi, Tanqueray, etc. They're the ones who will REALLY experience sticker shock!

And I equally suspect Costco to work on ridiculously low margins on spirits in an attempt to have people believe that the real culprit here is greedy wholesalers and retailers.

StraightNoChaser
04-05-2012, 10:42
Dear lord I'm not even past the Bs and I'm hard as a rock!

StraightNoChaser
04-05-2012, 10:47
Look at all that Four Roses! :bigeyes:

bad_scientist
04-05-2012, 14:48
Look at all that Four Roses! :bigeyes:

Yes! One pour for 60% of the price of an entire bottle!

Chris24
04-07-2012, 14:54
The best reason to go to Canon is Murray Stenson:
http://www.keatleyphoto.com/blog/2012/01/drinks-with-murray-stenson/

He works Sundays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays and has given me some of the best bourbon and rye cocktails I've ever had. He's routinely reffered to as the best bar tender in America and he has excellent customer service when it comes to crafting drinks. I've given him a disproportionate amount of my income.

Price for a mixed drink is usual $10-$12, far better than most other bars.

wadewood
04-11-2012, 16:42
The best reason to go to Canon is Murray Stenson:
http://www.keatleyphoto.com/blog/2012/01/drinks-with-murray-stenson/

He works Sundays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays and has given me some of the best bourbon and rye cocktails I've ever had. He's routinely reffered to as the best bar tender in America and he has excellent customer service when it comes to crafting drinks. I've given him a disproportionate amount of my income.

Price for a mixed drink is usual $10-$12, far better than most other bars.

Murray is a fantastic bartender. I took a client one time to Zig Zag when Murray was working there. He ordered a Gin and Tonic, despite the fact I told they had a great selection of cocktails. 5 minutes after ordering, he sees Murray making something fancy and says I want one of those. Murray made him the drink, took his G&T strained it and placed in fridge so it would not get watered down. Just one example.

nivto
04-11-2012, 17:35
The best reason to go to Canon is Murray Stenson:
http://www.keatleyphoto.com/blog/2012/01/drinks-with-murray-stenson/

He works Sundays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays and has given me some of the best bourbon and rye cocktails I've ever had. He's routinely reffered to as the best bar tender in America and he has excellent customer service when it comes to crafting drinks. I've given him a disproportionate amount of my income.

Price for a mixed drink is usual $10-$12, far better than most other bars.


Thanks for sharing that info. That's the first bit of info that's been posted in this thread that has made me actually want to visit this bar!

humchan2k
04-11-2012, 18:08
As a long time proponent of Zig Zag, including on these boards from time to time, I am thrilled/amazed that Jamie was able to get Murray onboard...it's incredible for him.

I also like Jamie quite a bit, and have had many beverages from him when he ran Vessel.....and yes, his Captain's List is incredibly well known throughout town, but one thing I really don't understand is his pricing...I bought a bottle of 1945 Old Overholt, 100 proof Pennsylvania bottled in bond quality beverage, on Ebay for about $150.....using Jamie's pricing methods, I would be charging about, oh, $500 for a shot of the stuff......his math is bonkers.

JamieB
04-12-2012, 23:00
The costs of canon's spirits are based on the simple math of 25% cost of sale based on what we purchased the bottle for (industry standard).

There are some exceptions; bottles that I am unable to purchase again. Right now that is anything Pappy, the Four Roses single mash bill bottlings (which I can't find again as a set) and the older bottles. I have to price Pappy at a much higher rate or the bottles would be gone in a week (truth be told, I don't even list the younger Pappy's as they still fly off the shelf even though they aren't listed). Unfortunately my allocation of Pappy is one bottle/year (for each vintage) and any other bottles that I am able to find online have me charging the prices that I charge.

As for the older bottlings, the pricing is figured as such: availability, waste and the purchase price.

My pricing, as is most bars, is also based on availability. If you know that the bottle is irreplaceable and you were lucky enough to receive one, you charge a premium as once the bottle is gone, it is gone forever. As I state to anyone who asks about the older whiskey, you are drinking history, not booze. This even goes for current bottlings that no longer exist. A good example would be that you will see more and more bars charging more for Bourye as it becomes more scarce as it no longer exists. AH Hirsch 16yr is another perfect example of this. It wasn't that long ago that I purchased a bottle for $89. It now goes for $400 (or more).

Waste. One must realize that every vintage bottle is not consumable. I was lucky enough to find an unopened case of AMS whiskey of which 9 of the 24 bottles were undrinkable. Unfortunately the lost bottles cost must be passed on to the drinkable bottles. Of the 140+ old bottles I have I've received, I've received 22 bad bottles. So far. I still haven't opened a lot of the bottles.

Purchase price. I haven't been able to get lucky enough to find prohibition era booze for $150 so cudos to you if you've been more fortunate than I have! Most of the bottles were purchased for over $300/bottle. Sometimes well over.

All of these factors contribute to the final cost. We have already sold several pours of vintage booze, and our guests while enjoying the spirit itself, appreciate the significance of the history that they were drinking even more.
If anyone out there wants to sell me their sizable, drinkable, prohibition era collection at ~$150/bottle, I'll be more than happy to drop prices! :grin:

Now having said all that, there are certain times of the year when I open up bottles that I have double of and sell them at cost. Repeal Day is usually one, and I'm thinking of doing so for our anniversaries as well.

Sincerely,
Jamie B

wadewood
04-13-2012, 04:58
Jamie B - thanks for responding. I had posted earlier in this thread questioning how you are able to sell bottles at your place not bought through WA state (and therefor not having paid WA tax). Any explanation? I'm guessing you reported to sate and paid the appropriate taxes?

I lived in Seattle for 9 years, now in Houston, but still get back to Seattle once a year. Look forward to coming back your place on my next trip.

mrviognier
04-13-2012, 05:40
Well-written, Jamie. Thanks for dropping in on the thread!

JamieB
04-13-2012, 13:07
Under #1183 we are allowed to source our product from anywhere as long as we pay the appropriate taxes. I was also fortunate to purchase an already existing business that already had an alcohol inventory.