The Watering Hole: The Market Arms. 2401 N.W. Market St., 789-0470, BALLARD.
Photo by Keegan Hamilton A somewhat blurry Shalynn Flavell and her Tropical Disaster.
The Atmosphere: A classic British pub, which means imperial (20 oz.) pints of ale in hand and football (er, soccer) on the telly. In this case, since it's late on a Tuesday evening, it's Gol TV's "Oh My Gol!" highlights on repeat. The walls are plastered with beer signs and bits of English national team and Premier League flair. A half-dozen plate-glass windows look out onto Ballard's Market Street and 24th Avenue and give the spacious bar an unrestricted feel, even though it's quite crowded for a drizzly weeknight.
The Barkeep: Shalynn Flavell, formerly of the Arms' sister pub, The George & Dragon. She tended bar at The George & Dragon (owned, like the Market Arms, by John and Debbie Bayliss) for nine years before defecting to the new pub in Ballard when it opened in June 2010.
Debbie Bayliss made a few cameos behind the bar at the Market Arms during my visit, mixing up some potent-looking caipirinhas and explaining that she hails from Newcastle, England. That makes her a devotee of Newcastle United and made us fast friends, since the club's legendary player/coach Kevin Keegan shares my name.
The Drink: "I'm going to pick something that makes me think of sun," Flavell said. "I'm ready for some sun."
She muddled lemon and lime in a pint glass and poured in a few shots of Absolut Ruby Red, grapefruit juice, tonic, and simple syrup. She mixed the concoction in a shaker, strained it over ice, then topped it off with a dash of soda water and a lemon wedge.
The result, a refreshing contrast of sweet (syrup and fruit juice) and bitter (grapefruit), was the perfect, Vitamin C-heavy antidote for the cold I've been battling. "It just makes me think of sunshine," Flavell said. "I miss it." Amen to that.
Flavell explained that the drink "never really got a name, but someone I make it for a lot said if you drink too many it's a tropical disaster, so that's what we call it." She added later, "It started as a shot, then got a little bigger and a little bigger" until it was a pint-size cocktail.
The Verdict: Newcastle Brown (or really any of the dozen choice brews they have on tap) is the drink of choice while watching a soccer match on the bar's many hi-def TV's, but a Tropical Disaster was a pleasant change of pace for a dreary February Seattle night.