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The city of Eureka always has a foot in the past. It's not a long history, but it's full, at turns rich and sour, ever present if you look closely enough.

You won't have to look hard in one of its newest bars, North of Fourth. That's because, like Eureka's rows of Victorian homes juxtaposed against cannabis retailers, it embraces both new and old, for the better.

North of Fourth sits on an unassuming corner of Third Street, on the fringe of Old Town's hip business district. Its vintage facade is spruced up in red and gold but without overshadowing its dive-favorite neighbor, the Shanty.

Inside, you feel consciously present and pleasantly transported. Owners Erica and Chuck Carlson have an eye for space. The wood bar practically glows, the space is comfortable, airy and much larger than the entrance suggests. On an unusually warm Eureka afternoon, it offers respite from the muggy heat. A large copper woodstove suggests it's a cozy winter space, as well.

There's a nice array of cider and beer on six taps, along with wine and shelves stocked with nice spirits, though the cocktails are the star of the show. A handwritten menu offers the day's specials, which typically range from $10 to $12.

A rhubarb Collins lays a gentle fizz on the tongue, followed by a rhubarb tartness that cuts through the simple syrup. And the rhubarb, our bartender boasts, is grown on site by Erica, a "master gardener."

click to enlarge Out on the patio. - RYAN FILGAS
  • Ryan Filgas
  • Out on the patio.

The garden benefits other cocktails, too: the Good Thyme is powerfully herby and fresh, and the Smoky Derby — a rye drink with a peaty scotch float — comes with a show. The server disappears outdoors for a moment, returning with a lighter and a sprig of fresh-picked rosemary that she deftly twists over the flame until it smokes, pops and fizzles when she places it delicately on the rim.

The Italia is a taste of the Riviera in a coupe glass. The sunset-colored concoction — conjured with "blood orange magic" — is sorbet-like in its decadence, with a welcome edge of citrus tang and boozy warmth.

Sunny afternoons are a treat in Eureka, and a perfect occasion to enjoy North of Fourth's outdoor patio. Erica's green thumb is on full display here — a riot of flowers, herbs, shrubs and young trees decorate the sunny oasis. Locals may recognize the faded, sky-blue tiles of the bar's previous incarnation, the Schooner, though given its reputation they may deny having ever been inside.

North of Fourth cleverly straddles the building's past and present. History books indicate the building has been a bar for more than a century and the name references an unsavory moment in the city's history. According to local historians, Italians and Germans, considered threats to port infrastructure during World War I, were arrested for setting foot "north of Fourth."

If its walls could talk, we might not want to hear what they have to say. But the lively conversations at the bar — between a retiree, a server, a truck driver, a writer and a bartender — prove the present has plenty to offer.

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About The Author

Grant Scott-Goforth

Grant Scott-Goforth

Bio:
Grant Scott-Goforth was an assistant editor and staff writer for The Journal from 2013 to 2017.

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