As a martini purist, I do not want a Key lime martini. In fact, I would venture to say that putting a drink in a martini glass does not make it a martini. The truly stringent go so far as to insist that a martini is made of gin, and while I salute these martinets, I like a vodka martini. The juniper component of gin reminds me of shrubbery, and while I support shrubbery, I do not want to drink it. The taste of vodka is practically an abstraction, bearing only the unsullied promise of anesthesia; a good vodka martini is like a brief, restorative stay in an excellent hospital.

Where should one go hereabouts to take one's medicine? Marcus' Martini Heaven and Tini Bigs are two unfortunately named but obvious choices, the former a subterranean lair in Pioneer Square, the latter a dark, upscale place on lower Queen Anne. Both will provide a fine proper martini, but there's the sense that such a beverage is a démodé oddity; they serve a lot more drinks of the Key lime ilk. ("Really? That's all you want?" one bartender asked when I ordered vodka, up, very dry, olives. Really. That's. All. I. Want.)

No such questions are asked at a quality steakhouse like El Gaucho, where the correlation between simplicity and greatness is manifest—your wish is their command, and they're not going to screw it up. The Metropolitan Grill also serves martinis efficiently, as befits its corporate clientele, but it can feel like an approximation of appropriate care. For 10-plus bucks, I don't want to have to look at a bottle of Softsoap on the bar nor brass taps that could use polishing (nor television, really). My martini also had bits of ice in it (a tiny crime against humanity).

A bar at a better hotel is generally a safe, soothing choice. In the lobby of the W, the Sorrento, or the Fairmont, the martinis are cold and the insulation from the quotidian is instantaneous. What city you're in, what time it is, your name: immaterial. All is delicious anonymity, tranquilizing transience. One hotel bar I take issue with: Oliver's, in the Mayflower Park. It wins the Martini Classic Challenge year after year, but my research there found regrettable floral draperies, a severely V-shaped glass (obviating the fun of endeavoring not to spill), and a bartender complaining loudly about his 401(k) plan. He then yawned at me as he handed me the bill.

No one will ever yawn at you at Waterfront Seafood Grill. With its sweeping Puget Sound view and epaulet-adorned wait staff, Waterfront is an idealized version of a cruise ship—you're pleasantly unmoored, you're waited on hand and foot, and you can leave whenever you want. The edge of the bar is padded for your leaning comfort; the bar itself subtly changes color in a most pacifying manner. And the martinis are freezing cold, curative, and practically perfect.