Seattle DINING! logo


CrabFest 2023


Woodblock Cocktails & Food

Laidback elevation, Part 2

Last month we shared the origin story of Woodblock and their family first concept and elevated food, beverage, and service. Now learn about their food and the whiskey wall with over 850 offerings.

GM Ira Muench and Jorge Martinez have grown the number and brands of whiskey. "We have our own whiskey barrels that we blend. Whiskey is blended in barrels, and we pull from different barrels to create our own. We might take 20% from this barrel and 30% from another, using beakers to measure. Every barrel is unique. Once blended, it's bottled, and they send us the barrel it was blended in," says owner Tony Scott.

Jorge Martinez

"We've had barrels from Maker's Mark (250 bottles), Sagemoor, Elijah Craig, and more," adds Ira. "We have an in-house blend of bourbon and one of rye to use as an upgrade for our signature Old Fashioned cocktail. Bourbon is sweeter, rye is spicier. We wanted these to stand up to use in a cocktail and not be overpowered by a cocktail, and be good to drink alone. A lot of detail goes into our cocktails. For our Old Fashioned, we cut ice every morning. Our bitters are aged in New American Oak. We love to share what we're doing with our regulars. When we're tasting whiskeys, bourbons, and ryes and a regular is there, we say, 'Want to be part of the tasting?' and they get to walk through it with us. When they come back in for dinner, they see it on the menu and can say, 'Hey, that's my bottle!'"

Tony adds, "When we opened, we had shelves behind the wall with one line of bottles on each shelf. Now the whole wall has shelves and bottles are four deep. But it's not about the number of bottles, it's about what they are." "We do ¾ ounce our flights and it's so fun to have people taste things like three iterations from one company all at once and compare," explains Ira. "Booker's Bourbon (Jim Beams' small batch bourbon) does a master distillers pick and all together they can pull from 72 rickhouses (where spirits are stored and aged). We had blends from 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022. People can taste and compare those. We do a 'Catcher in the Rye' flight with three different distilleries. Although we're in business to sell our inventory, I will save some bottles to use in flights."

Tuesdays are half price whiskey night, including expensive options. "We want enjoying whiskey to be approachable. What might normally be $80, you can try for $40. Regulars know to come in on Tuesdays and ask what the special is. As we make drinks and pours, we share history like how the man who created Maker's Mark used to sell chicken out of the back of Colonel Sander's truck and his first taste of bourbon was from Pappy Van Winkle. We're not just bartenders, we're librarians!"

Tony and Ira agree that educating is an ongoing process, and they learn from makers, distributors, each other, and guests. "When we first opened, I was nervous about my level of knowledge," Tony recalls. "But everyone was so open and cool, it gave me confidence. They love to share information as much as we do."

Another benefit of the pandemic is the now common use of QR codes. "They're a godsend," says Ira. "We add 8-10 different labels per week, and I don't have to print 50 pages for each table, I just add the labels on my computer, and people can download right at the table. I add new items on Wednesdays and have the bottles lined up in front of me. It's another opportunity to share tastes with people nearby."

Originally, Woodblock's food was tapas-style, lots of small plates, all served at the peak of freshness, made right before going to the table. They've always had a seasonal menu and buy as locally as possible. "Sometimes guests wanted a full entrée, so we added items like a grilled ribeye and a salmon dish with mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables, while keeping the small plates," explains Ira. "We also have specials like trout Niçoise. If it's cold out, we might do cioppino, if it's hot, seared tuna. There are only four items that have never come off the menu: Brisket Gnocchi, Scotch Eggs, Truffle Fries, and Bananas Foster Bread Pudding. I can't count the chicken wings because they went off the menu for three days before there was such an outcry the chef had to put them back on!"

In addition to weekday lunch and dinner, they offer weekend brunch and Late Night Bites. "Redmond is done by 8:30, so it's not reallylate," laughs Ira. "Our happy hour takes place seven days a week and I think it's the best happy hour I've worked with. We do half-price on our charcuterie board, and you can have a picnic." There are specials on featured cocktails and other food items. Dogs are welcome on the outdoor patio, adding to the neighborhood feel.

Helping take care of their community is important to everyone at Woodblock. They did benefits even during the pandemic, and have worked with ocean conservation, are part of Redmond's Art Walk and sponsor an artist, and will be a sponsor of Redmond Pride in September. "We're working with neighborhood development planners and calling it 'Drink with a Planner' where people can hear about what's happening and share their thoughts with planners," says Ira. "And we're getting involved with Backpack Brigade, helping kids get meals on weekends when not in school."

Are there more restaurants in their future? Ira is interested, Tony not so much. "Another restaurant is a big question mark both in concept and actuality," Tony says. If it does happen, you can be sure they've thought it through and it's something the community needs and wants.

Connie Adams/August 2023

16175 Cleveland St
Redmond, WA 98052

Spark Pizza
8110 164 th Ave NE
Redmond, WA 98052

We've worked hard to upgrade this site. Click here to notify us of any problems we need to correct.



Subscription has its privileges - Each month Seattle DINING! publishes new features on new restaurants, food and beverage news from around the Northwest and special events. Don't miss out on these informative stories.

Sign up today for your FREE subscription and you'll get a notification each month when the new issue comes on line. You'll also be the first to find out about special Seattle DINING! events.  What are you waiting for? Sign up now!

 Click here to sign up now!