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Downtown Seattle’s Cocktail Bar Phocific Standard Time Is a ‘Viet Style Tree House’

The intimate cocktail bar above Pho Bac shop is pouring cocktails with Vietnamese ingredients

A square-shaped bar with white counters and candles. There are bright orange blossoms in the corner of the dimly-lit room.
Phocific Standard Time is a speakeasy-style Vietnamese bar above a pho shop.
Mark Van Streefkerk

Just outside Pho Bac’s downtown location at 1923 7th Avenue is a sandwich sign that reads “P.S.T. Bar Upstairs” with an upward-pointing arrow. The sign is easy to overlook in a busy area between downtown and the Denny Triangle, but for those who venture into the bright pho restaurant and head upstairs, a cozy, dimly-lit bar above the din awaits. Phocific Standard Time (PST) is the latest addition to the Pham family’s legacy pho business: a cocktail bar with drinks using Vietnamese ingredients and flavors.

Co-owners and sisters Yenvy and Quynh Pham opened the speakeasy-style bar on Friday, October 1, above the fourth location of their local Pho Bac chain (Yenvy also opened Vietnamese cafe Hello Em at the beginning of 2021). PST features bar seating and a handful of small tables, perfect for a date night, reconnecting with an old friend, or as a relaxing after work destination, especially as employees return downtown post-pandemic. Plans are in the works to add Jasmine plants to the small bar, making it feel even more like a “Viet style tree house,” as its Instagram profile describes.

“I want customers to feel at home, but also be pleasantly surprised,” Yenvy says. “You come in this space above a pho shop: It’s intimate, it’s cozy, you feel welcomed, and you have this menu in front of you with things that you don’t usually see.”

PST’s drink menu includes about eight cocktails made with Vietnamese ingredients like pandan leaf, Chartreuse egg yolk custard, and pho broth. Nuoc Mat, a bright, sweet drink, features jasmine, Fever Tree Mediterranean tonic, Cocchi Americano, soju, and longan (a relative of lychee). Dua Dua has Batavia arrack, Chareau Aloe, soju, absinthe, coconut milk, and lime, with basil seeds adding flavor and a pleasant texture. Trung Muoi is made with pho fat washed Iwai Japanese whisky, cream sherry, nocino, carcavelos, and salted egg yolk.

PST’s bar director Katharine Frazier started working with the Pham sisters in July as they began developing their drinks. “We had an instant connection,” Yenvy says about Frazier. “She was able to translate all these various flavors into drinks in a way that was sophisticated and interesting, but still holds the integrity of Vietnamese culture.”

Quynh oversaw a small selection of natural wines and beer, and Yenvy crafted a small, playful snack menu to complement the drinks. There’s pastry pockets filled with pate, potato, and mushroom; and a pate trio with pho fat, mushroom tofu, and canned fish tomato pates served with sesame crackers and picklings. Cua Dip is made with crab, prawns, Vietnamese mayonnaise, melted cheese, and basil, served with crackers. The menu also includes Pho Bac’s pho cups — a Cup of Noodle-style takeout option Pho Bac developed during the pandemic — with beef, chicken, prawn, and veggie options. The savory and salty food menu pairs well with PST’s cocktails.

The idea for PST was primarily from Khoa Pham, Yenvy and Quynh’s brother who passed away suddenly in March 2020. The concept of a speakeasy/tree house above a bustling pho restaurant was “definitely spearheaded by my brother,” Yenvy says. Khoa was the chief financial officer of the family business, and a community leader. The City of Seattle established April 21 as Khoa Pham Day, in recognition of his influence and activism. Honoring his memory is the drink Khoa Was Here, a pho fat washed shot of Jameson with pho broth.

PST is located on the second floor at 1923 7th Avenue in Seattle; open from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

Pho Bac

1923 7th Avenue, , WA 98101 (206) 538-0194 Visit Website

Hello Em

1227 S Weller Street, Seattle, WA 98144