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Police Beat Special Edition

To paraphrase Noël Coward: Beer is easy, mixed drinks are hard. So we decided to stop by a few of the more than 30 bars that recently obtained full-liquor licenses to see if they've mastered the intricacies of Manhattans, cosmos, sidecars, and Shirley Temples. A report.PACIFIC INN PUB

3501 Stone Way N

Bloody Mary, $4.50The bloody mary is often a bar's unspoken signature drink, the recipe of which is a closely guarded secret. And while other drinks such as the martini and Manhattan may get all the drink-special press, the bloody mary usually impresses the most.

The Pacific Inn Pub, which is located in that nether region between Fremont and the U-District along Lake Union, only received their full liquor license the day after Thanksgiving, but they already seem to have arrived at the perfect recipe. Spicy and filling, with celery and salt (always a plus), their bloody mary slaps you perfectly, and would be a great complement to both breakfast and late-night boozing.

The bar itself is a cozy affair, brightly decorated and warm. There is a pool table in the back, a TV behind the bar, and a small jukebox in the corner--all fine drinking-establishment attributes to be sure--but it is the laid-back, pleasant atmosphere that is the bar's true spirit. Tucked away from all but those who live nearest to it, the Pacific Inn Pub is not just a watering hole; it's also a community. BRADLEY STEINBACHER

THE BALTIC ROOM

1207 Pine St

Gin Gimlet, $6.00The gin gimlet at the Baltic Room is potent. After ordering one from the downstairs bar, I made the mistake of heading upstairs to mingle with the VIPs in attendance at that evening's JAMPAC fundraiser. This was a mistake for two reasons. First, I was stuck having to hold conversations with folks like Mayor Greg Nickels, Angel Combs, and Krist Novoselic. A bit high from the refreshingly chilly and perfectly lime-tinted gimlet, I may have been a bit fresh with the mayor, so he may not be speaking to me anytime soon. Second, having gone upstairs, I was now in the precarious position of having to descend the staircase. Not a good idea. Suffice it say, since getting their full booze license in September 2000, the Baltic Room is not shy about pouring a stiff gimlet with top-of-the-line Tom Cat gin. JOSH FEIT

SUMMIT TAVERN

601 Summit Ave E

Vodka Martini, $4.25One wishes there was a bar like this on every block in Seattle. It's small, modest, comfortable. Other bars, on main streets like Pike, Broadway, and the Ave, present drinking as an occasion, an event not unlike a church service where one has to dress up and look attractive. But at small bars like the Summit Tavern, drinking is presented in functional and honest terms. Three months ago, the Summit Tavern started selling hard alcohol, whose handsome bottles (the reflected blues of Skyy Vodka, the golds of Bushmills) seem out of place in this working-class atmosphere of hardwood and practical furniture. I ordered a vodka martini (using the house vodka) and was surprised when it came in a large, thick, and misty martini glass with a flowery stem. (It would not have surprised me if it came in a plastic cup.) The glass was chilled, and three spiked olives sat in the middle of my miniature, arctic lake of vodka. I was not amazed by the martini, but was nevertheless very pleased. CHARLES MUDEDE

COLLEGE INN PUB

4006 University Way NE

Bloody Mary, $4.50College bars have been so maligned over the years that it's easy to forget what they should really be: gathering spots for those still free from the tedious burdens of adulthood. To that end, the College Inn Pub may be Seattle's last refuge. Dark, with the atmosphere of an ancient sea vessel, it is the perfect place for long study sessions, thick pints, and wordy arguments, both pretentious and necessary.

That said, however, be wary of the bloody mary. Having just obtained their full booze license last summer, the College Inn has yet to fully master the art of the recipe, and the result resembles not so much a bloody mary, but more of a half vodka/half Tabasco concoction--a drink I have named the Vasco. One sip of the Vasco and I immediately began to choke, my eyes tearing, and was forced to sprint back to the bar for a tall glass of water.

To the bartender's credit, however, after I informed him that he nearly killed me, he dutifully apologized and offered to make me a new drink. Salut, sir! BRADLEY STEINBACHER

COOPER'S ALEHOUSE

8065 Lake City Way NE

Grape Nehi, $5.50.Clean, well-lit, and catering largely to twentysomethings with jobs, Cooper's Alehouse never has exuded much barfly appeal, and still doesn't since adding a full bar about four months ago. Actually "full bar" is pushing it, as the establishment lacks a very wide selection of booze. But the bartenders there will fear no muddle and are happy to rustle up a lemon drop or cosmo, no problem. Still, there's something to be said for experience. Yes, a grape nehi there will kick your butt, but the trick is to fool people into not realizing they're drinking an insane amount of alcohol. Mine had a dominant vodka flavor that seemed to scream, "Danger, Will Robinson, danger!" So what is to be learned here? If you like your hard licks and want a rum and Coke or Maker's Mark, by all means go for it. But leave the fancy stuff to the Capitol Clubs of the world. Cooper's was and still is a champion of unique and tasty beers (after all, it's an alehouse). Try the Arrogant Bastard Ale or dark and brooding Rasputin Stout and you may forget you ever wanted that French 75 in the first place. SCOTT McGEATH

TRACTOR TAVERN

5213 Ballard Ave NW

Manhattan, $5All right, so the Tractor's got real booze now. I'm sure that makes a lot of martini addicts happy, but is it not a bit ridiculous? Sure, they can knock out a passable Manhattan, but sitting in the echoing pre-show bar nursing a mixed drink makes one feel like a quaint visitor from another age, like an Oscar Wilde-quoting, tennis-sweater-wearing relic--not to mention a bit vulnerable in the cowboy atmosphere. I mean, part of the rock show is the entrance into the fantasy, the sanctity of the wannabe; you become the rock chick, the diffident electronica sampler, the shit-kicking heartbreaker. (I am more apt to borrow my roommate's cowboy boots to go to the Tractor than at any other time.) This is where you go to hear gritty, rootsy, sorrowful, lyric music, and for that you really want a long-neck beer bottle, you know? It's easy to carry around, and in a pinch it can be used as a weapon. EMILY HALLHONEYHOLE

703 E Pike St

Sidecar, $5Honeyhole is a very recent addition to the Seattle bar scene. The former sandwich shop got a full liquor license just six short weeks ago, and it seems the bar staff is still working out the kinks. On my first visit, one of the owners was behind the bar, winging it. I was sure that my second visit--to order a sidecar--would require a little research beforehand. I looked up the drink recipe (brandy, triple sec, and sour mix, in a sugar-rimmed glass), just in case they asked.

But the bartender didn't need to ask. I watched him pour the requirements into a tall glass, cap it with another, and shake. He then craftily poured the chilled mixture using the same two glasses, slightly separated, instead of a strainer. It looked a bit awkward, but the resulting concoction arrived at my table unharmed and ice-free. The drink was quite respectable for such a fledgling bar--though it was a bit heavy on the sour. But once the bar staff settles in, I'm sure drink quality (and mixing technique) will improve. AMY JENNIGESR PLACE

619 E Pine

Shirley Temple, $1.50I have been drinking Shirley Temples since the age of nine. Although I'm 21 years old now and can legally drink, I've never touched a drop of alcohol. To this day I drink Shirley Temples, especially when my drunken friends want to hit the bars. So, needless to say, I've come to be quite a Shirley Temple snob. R Place didn't have a bad Shirley Temple, but they didn't have a great one either. Their mix of 7 Up, grenadine, and one lonely cherry was a bit too sweet and left a slightly unpleasant aftertaste. So when I ordered another, I asked for the 7 Up to be replaced with club soda. The bartender obliged, and that took care of the aggressive sweetness, but I still only got one lousy cherry. Here's a tip for the bartender: As the non-drinker in my crowd, I'm the person who keeps my drunken friends from getting out of control while they're boozing it up in your bar (to say nothing of having to clean up after them when they vomit all over the back seat of my car). Seeing as that's the case, don't you think I deserve at least two cherries? MEGAN SELING

RE-BAR

1114 Howell St

Cadillac Margarita, $7I went to Re-bar exactly at eight (just as the club opened), assuming I would be at least a minor irritant for whatever bartender was on shift: It's no fun being asked to make a salted Cadillac margarita before you've even had the chance to set yourself up for the night. Fortunately, the perennially delightful Carla was working. She greeted me warmly, and set about making the margarita whilst chatting me up about The Stranger, etc.--in short, a pro bartender. I like the Re-bar with liquor, because I like any bar with liquor. Plus, the place is otherwise unchanged. It's relaxed, dirty, and full of excellent music and theater history. The cocktails were too weak when the place first went full-liquor, but they've gotten a bit stronger. My margarita was good. I maybe would have had a bit less sour in the mix, but I'm just a limey sort of person that way. Besides, who cares about a little extra sour when the service is so impeccably sweet? JEFF DeROCHE

BARCA

1510 11th Ave

Cosmopolitan, $6Barça may have only gone full-liquor less than six months ago, but make no mistake: There are no amateurs here. The hipster mixologists behind this bar know their way around a bottle, and drinks are made with quiet professionalism and maximum efficiency. My cosmopolitan was made by Rachel, a sweet, confident bartendress with a stylish haircut and sexy tattoos. I became an instant fan when, after I ordered my drink, she grabbed a pint glass and muddler, and started crushing ice and pulverizing fresh lime like a woman who knows how it's done. (If there's one thing I can't stand, it's a lazy bartender.)

My cosmo--vodka (preferably Absolut Citron), triple sec (preferably Cointreau), and fresh lime juice, with a splash (and only a splash: cosmos should always be a light pink) of cranberry--was delicious, and tasted of integrity. Little slivers of ice that escaped Rachel's strainer floated on top, and each sip was satisfyingly pulpy, thanks to all that mashed lime flesh. I could taste the perfect blend of sweetness, tartness, and, most importantly, vodka, which indicates a healthy pour. MIN LIAO