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The Watering Hole: Hard Rock Café, 116 Pike St., 204-2233, DOWNTOWN.
"This is how we roll at the HRC, yo!"
The Atmosphere: No surprises here. The Hard Rock Café is all about memorabilia, merchandise and music. Loud music. If you go after 5 p.m., be prepared to wait for a seat at the bar. Most nights, you're lucky to score two seats for you and a friend. And believe us when we say you'll need to be sitting as close to your friend as possible, as the plasma behind the bar looping music videos plays them at a deafening decibel. Regardless of how much of a downer this may be, the bartenders are surprisingly pleasant and professional. They must make great tips.
The Bartender: Dan Good is the man! He's instantly recognizable; if he's not wearing a skull cap covering his surfer shoulder-length blond hair, he'll be the dude singing along to the music with a huge grin on his face, as if he's feeding off the energy of the thirsty crowd. Dan Good also loves high fives. He gives them often. No celebration is too small for one, in fact. It's kind of charming. He's been working "the square," as he calls it, for almost a decade, pulling bartending shifts at Tiki Bob's Cantina (which he helped open and where he still bartends part-time) and the old J&M Café in Pioneer Square. He landed at the HRC after some friends flew him to Las Vegas's Hard Rock Café for his bachelor party in August. He fell in love and aced his interview when he applied to work at the Seattle location months later. "I love my job," Dan will tell you repeatedly. He is one of the nicest guys you'll ever have the pleasure of dealing with at a bar.
The Drinks: Dan doesn't want to make you his favorite drink. He insists on making your favorite drink, so come prepared to at least tell him your favorite spirit. A request for "gin" and "a little sweet" resulted in a drink Dan calls the Nada Bomb ($7.50) which consists of a glass of Red Bull with a shot of Bombay Sapphire gin thrown in and a splash of lemon and grapefruit. As Dan explains, it's called the Nada Bomb because when you pound it, you won't taste anything -- nada. A whisky-based drink ($7.00) was a little less fratty, but hell if we know what the name of it is. Dan's excellent description of the drink was drowned out by Great White's "Once Bitten Twice Shy." It was either called "Dan's Whiskey Dilema" or "Dan's Whiskey Lemon" or maybe "Dan's Whiskey D'Lemon." We're not sure, but we did hear Dan say, "It's got four different kinds of whiskeys and bourbons in it, so it's got a little Makers, Southern, C.C., some Turkey. It's showered with lime, shaken up."
The Verdict: Remember those drinks in college that ushered you into the wonderful world of illegal drinking? Those are the drinks you can expect at the Hard Rock Cafe. They're all about the novelty of drinking, not so much about the finesse of mixing them or the balance of flavor. They are fun, though. And if you visit the HRC on your 21st birthday, you will be treated to a rousing dancing-on-the-bar-style Happy Birthday number from the bartenders ala Coyote Ugly, minus the stripper moves. Sugary drinks and charming boyish bartenders: At least one of those things is still refreshing post college.