The Watering Hole: Pillagers Pub, 8551 Greenwood Ave. N., 706-2779, GREENWOOD
The Atmosphere: This spacious pirate-themed pub is something of a cross between a dive bar and a favorite local tap room. Some of the boozers bellied up to the bar brought with them the odor of persons not overly concerned with regular bathing, and reek of tobacco from their regular trips outside for a smoke. But as the home of Three Skulls Ales and Baron Brewing, local brew aficionados are also on the stools, enjoying pints alongside their harder-living brethren. The result is a vibe that mixes grit with a hint of snobbery. The combination might seem a little incongruous, but really it's the perfect blend for a treasure-seeking pirate.
The Barkeep: "Oh, criminy," Brandi Moery says when I ask her to make her favorite drink. She's equally comfortable using old-timey expletives or leaning into the camera cleavage-first. Like the bar, she refuses to be defined. She's got good technique, but isn't the kind of mixologist who turns her nose up at a Cosmopolitan order.
After a bit of hemming and hawing, alternating between looking at the liquor behind the bar and sizing me up, Moery comes to a decision. "All right, it's on!" she proclaims.
The Drink: She juices a lime into a tumbler and adds some honey. In goes a dash of salt, a shake of hot sauce, and tequila. My stomach flips just watching.
Slowly stirring to completely dissolve the honey, she explains that the drink doesn't have a name. It's just something she concocted to get a complete flavor palette into one small glass."It's sweet, savory, spicy, and sour," she says. "To me it's the most heavenly way to sip tequila."
She pauses. "It makes tequila bearable."
The Verdict: I don't expect much from my unnamed drink, but it's perfect. The lime, the honey, the salt, and the Tabasco all complement the tequila perfectly.
Perhaps inspired by my "Oh my God, that's great!", other patrons start to ask for the same drink. Apparently this isn't unusual. "Once I start making them, they go like crazy," Moery says.
She suggests trying it with a bit more juice and ice, essentially in margarita form—but still with the hot sauce. Without a hint of cynicism, one of my drinking companions declares it the best margarita she's had in Seattle: "We need to learn [Moery's] schedule." All swaggering Seattle pirates would do well to cast off your rum biases and do the same.