The Watering Hole: The Blarney Stone, 1909 Third Ave., 448-8439, DOWNTOWN
The Atmosphere: The Blarney Stone is the sort of central-casting, no-bullshit Irish pub that's found in abundance in Manhattan—as well as in Manhattan, Kansas. There are Christmas lights even though it's not Christmas, and random beer and sports flotsam. But there's no Pogues or Van Morrison on the stereo; instead, it's dominated by classic (Cars, Grateful Dead) and soft (Chicago, Player) rock.
The crowd consists mostly of regulars, many of whom are carrying on breezy, off-color conversations that never threaten obnoxiousness. There's a joke about a zebra we can't repeat.
The Barkeep: Girly-voiced, apple-cheeked Heather Sturgeon—"like the fish for very expensive caviar." With penetrating blue eyes and a penetrating blue Sounders cap, she's the type one could imagine commanding caviar from a suitor, but while working, she keeps it casual, with her hair tied back in a ponytail, a tiny stud in her right nostril, and her posterior protected by a pair of Daisy Dukes.
Sturgeon recently moved to Seattle, but she hails from Snohomish, and still pulls shifts at a wine bar there called The Repp that she describes as "an awesome date place." Prior to that, she worked at a similarly awesome place, but maybe not so much for dates: The Oxford Saloon, cutesy Snohomish's resident Bandido bar (the Bandidos are a notorious biker gang).
The Drink: Sturgeon doesn't fuck around when she drinks; her go-to is Jameson neat with a Sprite back. But pressed to get more creative, she puts a boozy spin on the standard Belgian ale with an orange slice, dropping a shot of Absolut Mandarin into a pint of Hoegaarden, a drink spontaneously dubbed "The Mandahoe."
"It will get you fucked up quickly," warns Sturgeon.
The Verdict: She's right. It will.