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Darlene Kaiser has been serving drinks at the Ballard Smoke Shop for 23 years (5439 Ballard Ave NW, 784-6611). (She doesn't have the most seniority at the neighborhood spot; her coworker Marsha has been there for 36 years.) She's still in love with her job. "We're like a family," she says over and over about her team of mostly female bartenders. "Even when I go to Florida on vacation, I call them because I miss them." Though cocktail trends come and go—Darlene says the Dark 'n' Stormy and other cocktails with ginger beer are popular at the moment—drink orders are pretty basic. "Most of our customers are salt-of-the-earth types and order things like screwdrivers. They're not into froufrou drinks."

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