The Watering Hole: Barrio Mexican Kitchen & Bar, 1420 12th Ave., 588-8105, CAPITOL HILL
The Atmosphere: Urban elegance goes south of the border with nary a tchotchke in site. The house music comes courtesy of Pandora and was cranking out the likes of Santigold and the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs on my visit. Barrio is daylight-drenched at noon, and walls of candles are lit in the evening to provide the city's most flattering lighting—which may explain the overabundance of revved-up ladies of a certain age who inhabit this establishment. As tired as it is to evoke the "C" word, I have to, as Barrio has such a cougar clientele it could be declared a wildlife refuge—so much so I had to assure the bartender I wanted his contact information for this piece, not a piece.
The Barkeep: Darren Archer has been working at Barrio for three years; overall, he's put in seven in the Seattle food-service industry after migrating from L.A. in his early twenties. Darren's passion for cocktails is only exceeded by his interest in brewing, and his ultimate gig would be custom-crafting beer.
The Drink: The Sexy Sadie (Reposado, fresh lemon, lillet blanc, agave nectar, sage, pineapple, jalapeno, black pepper), created by Barrio's Casey Robison won the Seattle round of the 2012 Diageo World Class Cocktail competition. It tastes overwhelmingly fresh and achieves the perfect balance of heat and sweet.
The Verdict: Seattle is lucky to have Barrio. It is a quality establishment in every sense of the word. The food is astoundingly good, they stock more than 100 tequilas, and the ambience can't be beat. While it's a little on the spendy side, one can visit on Sundays when all specialty cocktails are a mere $6, or on Mondays when their tequila selection is 50 percent off when ordered neat or by the flight—which range from $23 for three one-ounce pours of Milagro to $90 for a selection that includes Don Julio 1942, Herradura Seleccion Suprema and El Tesoro Paradiso, all served with housemade sangrita (verde or Colorado) as your chaser.