The Session Movement Hits Seattle: Slow Drinking in The Emerald City
There’s a new trend sweeping the country’s drinking scene, and it’s changing the way we think about a night—or day—out. Dubbed slow, shim, or “session” drinking, it’s all about enjoying more drinks over a longer period of time. And that doesn’t mean getting sloshed: session drinking looks to low-proof cocktails, wines and beers.
All About Session Drinking
Put simply, session drinking is just drinking a low-alcohol beverage. That can mean a light beer, or a cocktail that’s mixer-heavy. Most bartenders, according to Eater, define low-alcohol cocktails as any drink made with mostly low-proof liquor (up to 20 percent ABV). Another contender as a session cocktail is one that’s undergone a full-proof spirit rinse, in which a bartender coats the glass with a strong booze before pouring out the excess liquid.
And while bars across the United States are incorporating more low-proof drinks on their menus, the new development is actually a rediscovery of historic drinking habits. For centuries, beer and wines used to be lower in alcohol content, and antique cocktail books feature low-alcohol recipes heavily. That tradition has lasted more continuously in Europe. Italy’s iconic Aperol Spritz, for example, has only 11 percent ABV.
Session Drinking in Seattle
One of the prominent local forces bringing session drinking to the Emerald City is BroVo Spirits. The experimental distillery, just 25 minutes northeast of downtown Seattle, produces craft amaro and vermouth, both key players in session drinking.
“People want to drink cocktails, but be able to have a few of them and not feel drunk,” says BroVo Spirits CEO Mhairi Voelsgen. “Vermouth is a great addition to any cocktail,” she says. “It adds flavor, sometimes sweetness, sometimes acidity.” And since it’s lower in alcohol content than other liquors, it brings down the punch of a cocktail while still adding flavor.
One of their vermouths, Venture ’29, stems from Hotel Theodore’s ongoing partnership with the brand. Named after the year Hotel Theodore originally opened, the drink is a custom Blanco vermouth with orange, lemon and grapefruit peels, mixed with a special blend of botanicals that creates a floral, citrusy flavor profile. Guests at Hotel Theodore can enjoy Venture ’29 during our aperitivo hour, which features low-proof cocktails nightly.