Date: Sat Dec 4
Place: The Islander (96 Union St)
Time: 7:45 pm

Walking into the Islander gave me flashbacks to the early '90s, when the cocktail-culture revival was in full swing. Retro-stylized house parties and club theme nights were obscenely trendy: Moe's used to host a cocktail culture night where hipsters ran around in vintage garb, clutching cigarette holders and swilling Manhattans; I myself am guilty of throwing a Breakfast at Tiffany's theme party or two. If the Islander had opened back then, it might have snagged tiki-bar aficionados, one of the trend's more obsessive subgenres. Generally more popular in L.A. than Seattle, tiki bars are dens of kitchy inequity for fans of frothy, fruity cocktails and garish, Hawaiian-themed décor. Both elements are in place at this Pike Place Market lounge and restaurant, albeit with a more sanitized, tourist-friendly edge. The bar is sparkly-clean, smoke-free, and almost entirely empty at the early hour we arrive--remember: the date, place, and time we show up are selected at random--but there's a gaggle of bubbly blondes with matching highlights chattering away in the adjacent private dining room. One sip off my beautifully garnished Zombie cocktail reminds me of why I steer clear of rum: all that sugar turns my face beet red almost immediately. A chat with Jeremy, our soft-spoken bartender, confirms that seasonal changes impact business significantly. "During the summertime, the deck fills up by 5:00 p.m.," he explains, gesturing to the windows looking out onto a massive deck with a stellar view of Elliott Bay. The fact that it's a soggy Seattle evening probably doesn't help matters much, a reality illustrated vividly by one woman in the corner, wrapped snuggly in a fur-trimmed parka and sipping a drink out of a coconut shell. "It'll pick back up in the summer," says Jeremy, "and we're busier on Fridays." HANNAH LEVINE

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