First Call: The Celtic Swell

Their strongest drink is liable to beach you.

The Watering Hole: The Celtic Swell, 2722 Alki Ave. S.W., 932-7935, ALKIThe Atmosphere: One of the best views in West Seattle. No matter where you sit at this charming Irish pub on Alki, you can watch ferries and rollerbladers go by as you sip your draft beer or $5 house wine. The staff is friendly, the seating ample, and the menu makes you wonder whether you're at an Irish pub or a TGI Fridays. When was the last time you wandered into Guinnessville and saw hot wings, nachos, and calamari on the same menu as bangers and mash? No complaints here, though. The food is good!The Bartender: Meet Jake Washburn. He's been working at The Celtic Swell for three-and-a-half years. That's Celtic with a "K" sound, by the way. "The team in Boston got it wrong," says Washburn, who has spent the past two years behind the bar. "Before that, I was a busboy." Prior to The Swell, Washburn worked as a service rep for Keebler in Vermont. He says he'd often see the Massachusetts border and the Canadian border in the same day, driving back and forth visiting accounts. But now that he's working beachfront? "My office kicks ass!" Washburn is the kind of bartender who, if you tell him your Guinness ice cream doesn't have enough booze flavor, will caramelize some bourbon and pour it over your dessert, making it 100 times better than you could ever imagine.The Drink: Pronouncing Washburn's favorite drink is half the battle. It's called "A Slow Fuzzy Comfortable Screw Against the Wall With Satin Pillows the Hard Way," and if you think that's a lot of words, take a gander at what's in it: Triple Sec, vodka, rum, gin, tequila, sloe gin, peach schnapps, amaretto, Southern Comfort, 151 Bacardi, and a splash of orange juice. "There's a lot of liquor in it," warns Washburn, "so you might just want to do a shot." Either way, the drink will cost you the same: about $8. The concoction smells delicious, like Hawaiian Punch. It's the kind of drink you can pound without realizing you're drunk until the next morning, when you wake up on someone's lawn with no socks. Believe it or not, Washburn didn't come up with this on his own. "I found it in the Bartender's Black Book," he says. It happened while he was working the bar one night. His boss came in with a couple of friends and ordered Washburn to "come up with something that will hurt us." He did.The Verdict: Washburn and his bartending skills are the reason we'll keep returning to The Celtic Swell. Now, by bartending skills, we don't mean a guy who only knows his way around a fancy cocktail, we mean a professional who can throw down a mean drink and tend to his customers' needs and wants before they even have to ask. The Celtic Swell has the view, but Washburn is the real show you don't want to miss.jperry@seattleweekly.com

 
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