Updated Wednesday, December 26, 2012 at 06:46 PM
The folks behind Rumba make a compelling case that rum deserves a higher calling, rating classier company than a splash of Coke or a mix of fruit juices and a paper umbrella.
With 250 brands of rum and counting, Rumba argues that rum should be as revered as whiskey, worthy of moments of contemplative drinking.
Opened in September by the same people who operate Tango two doors up, this Capitol Hill spot is one of the most ambitious cocktail dens to debut in Seattle in recent years.
Rumba hawks drinks outside the boundaries of what casual rum drinkers knock back. One of its best cocktails, “The Coin Toss,” consists of a rich Barbados rum rounded with two robust herbal liqueurs and hints of vanilla-scented vermouth, one of the most elegant, spirit-forward cocktails you’ll find anywhere in Seattle.
But Rumba isn’t such a purist that it forgets to have fun.
There is Tiki Tuesday.
Daiquiris come in four variations, served with crushed ice or without. No. 4 is the best, served up with cherry and woody notes from the maraschino liqueur added to the standard daiquiri (rum, lime juice and sugar).
The food menu is short and simple, more bar noshes than dinner, with tropical fusions, such as guacamole with mango served with plantain chips.
A light, crispy fish taco is the best of the taco options (pork, squash and fish) offered during happy hour.
Rumba’s dimly lit, dark wood motif is similar to that of a lot of other hip cocktail dens, only here the décor gets accentuated with a wave of aqua blue chairs and booths.
Rumba clearly aspires to the estimable ranks of Zig Zag Cafe and Canon — Seattle’s leading cocktail bars. It’s on its way, with a drink menu inspired by sources as varied as New York City bar Death and Co. and Jerry Thomas’ 1862 Bartender’s Guide. To reach the highest heights, it lacks only a defining, original drink menu to call its own.
Rumba, 1112 Pike St., offers happy hour daily 5-6 p.m. with bar food ($2-$3.50) and $6 daiquiris, $5 wine and $3.50 Red Stripe beer (206-583-7177 or rumbaonpike.com).
Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @tanvinhseattle
The Seattle Times
Against a backdrop of Rumba’s extensive assortment of rum is the Rumba Daiquiri No. 4, and fish and pork tacos.