On a January night in Seattle’s Capitol Hill district, a place rich with West Coast hipster culture, bartender Ryan Minch is doing his part at the Liberty to help the city enjoy the Seattle Seahawks’ impressive playoff run to end the 2013 NFL season. Above him, Seattle icon Kurt Cobain, the frontman for the band Nirvana, looks down on the bar from his picture on a skateboard deck.
But Minch, a 29-year-old Seattle native who wears a long beard that would make him an ideal candidate to play a viking in a movie, is working on his salute to a new Seattle icon — Russell Wilson. The bartender squeezes a lemon and pours in blue Curacao in a shaker filled with ice. He shakes it for about 15 seconds and then pours the concoction into five shot glasses. He then adds half of a lime sprinkled brown with espresso.
“It’s just Windex,” jokes Minch. “It’s totally safe.”
The drink Minch just made is known as the Russellmania, and it celebrates quarterback and former Wolfpacker Russell Wilson, who has left quite an impression on the Emerald City during his three years there. It was vastly popular at The Liberty earlier this year as the Seattle Seahawks made their way through the 2013-14 NFL playoffs, beating the Denver Broncos to win Super Bowl XLVIII. The libation was dreamed up by Seattle resident Jason Finn, who is the drummer for the band the Presidents of the United States of America. He submitted the recipe to The Seattle Times’ blog.
Philip Sit mans a barstool down from where Minch makes the Russellmania, adamantly claiming he knew all along Wilson would become the starting quarterback for the Seahawks, even when it looked like the team might go with Matt Flynn, the free-agent quarterback in whom they had invested millions. Sit even shows off a screen capture of his Facebook prediction from two years ago on his iPhone.
“[Wilson] may or may not be a robot,” says Sit, who sports a Wilson No. 3 jersey. “We’re not quite sure. Russell’s like picture perfect. It’s like, ‘Can someone really be that perfect?'”
Sit offers many explanations as to why Wilson has become iconic in Seattle. The most obvious is that Wilson has won. Given some of the town’s sports mediocrity and the NBA’s Seattle SuperSonics moving to Oklahoma City in 2008, Wilson has proven a dependable player who fans feel gives them a chance to win every week.
But, Sit says, it’s more than just the winning. “We never had an athlete everyone could relate to over the past decade,” he says, adding that now with Wilson, the city does.
NC State magazine spent time in Seattle last January chronicling the imprint Russell Wilson has left on the city so far in his short career as quarterback for the Seahawks. We produced a feature for the fall issue, which is now out, based on our time there.