A weekly Voracious feature in which our writers walk into a bar and ask the bartender to make us his or her favorite drink.
Locale: The Knarr Shipwreck Lounge, 5633 University Way N.E., 525-3323.
I entered The Knarr, a divey sports bar at the north end of the Ave, around 8 p.m. on a Saturday night. It was surprisingly mellow and contained a crowd of equal parts friendly regulars and what looked to be recently graduated frat brothers. There were TVs showing the game, and the hollers that broke out behind me whenever something happened on the football game would continually scare the bejeezus out of me. I couldn’t tell you what was happening. I didn’t even know it was football season.
Bartender: Alena, the friendliest bartender I’ve encountered in a long while. “You don’t want my drink. It’s so boring! I can mix you up something better if you want.”
Nope, I want whatever you’d have right now. Alena pours me a shot of Absolut vodka and hands me a can of Budweiser. “I don’t know why, but I just like things out of a can,” she tells me as she hands me my drink. “Sodas, too. I think they just taste better.”
I’m with you, Alena. I’m no aluminum snob. I get ready to do the shot, and she senses my trepidation. “You want a lime wedge or something with that?”
Is that how you’d have it? “Sometimes, or sometimes I just use the beer.”
Good enough, I’ll take it. I down the shot and instantly change my mind that all vodkas taste the same. The Absolut goes down smooth and easy. I still believe all vodkas are created equal the moment they’re mixed with something, but I’ll never shoot a well vodka again. The can of Budweiser totally hits the spot.
Where you from, Alena? “Kansas. I moved here about ten months ago. I came out to visit, went to Earl’s, got trashed, and said, I’m moving here.” For those of you who aren’t familiar with the U District, Earl’s is a bar on the Ave notorious for super-strong drinks and, not surprisingly, a rowdy crowd. I have a few friends that swear by the place, but if I had been taken to Earl's my first time in Seattle, I probably would have stayed in LA.
What’s it like working at the Knarr? "It’s great. I love it. We’re like a big family. I took a date here once and I never saw him again. It’s like I have 15 older brothers."