Tequila Tuesday at Big Mario's

Bartender Lisa Mungo's Tequila Tuesday concoction.
The Watering Hole: Big Mario's, 1009 E. Pike St., 922-3875. CAPITOL HILL

The Atmosphere: Big Mario's is equal parts pizza parlor and bar that attracts mostly students and other industry people around Capitol Hill. It's a surprisingly warm place that makes you feel the urge to hunker down and hang out. It looks like a dive bar that's been in Seattle since the 80s, but really, it's not even two-years old yet. The place really gets hopping on Friday and Saturday nights when Big Mario's serves pizza by the slice out a window until 4a.m. and during weekdays when they dole out buck beers from 3-4p.m.. The place is also home to the world's cutest dog, a Puggle named Jackson that belongs to the bar manager, Melissa. It was hanging out with a customer the entire time I was there and, just like the bartender, seemed to know everyone walking through the doors.

Big Mario's offers 40s of Olde English and Boone's Farm which Mungo says, "Is much more popular on weekends."
The Barkeep: Lisa Mungo. She's been bartending at Big Mario's for about six months. She's originally from California and before she moved to Seattle three-and-a-half years ago, she was tending bar in Portland. "One of the reasons I moved to Capitol Hill is because there are so many great venues around here for music," says Mungo, who is in a band called He Whose Ox is Gored. "It's a pretty heavy, sledgy, post-hardcore band." She refers to it as doom music. As for her role in the band: "I scream." Lisa works the 11a.m.-7p.m. shift Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. She concentrates on her music the other days. It was Melissa (Jackson's owner) who gave her a shot behind the bar. "Sometimes it's hard to break into the scene when you're new in town. I actually started here working on the kitchen side, tossing pies and doing prep and all that kind of stuff. I've done pretty much everything here. Since we opened."

The drink that needs no introduction.
The Drink: I figured a hole-in-the-wall teetering the line between the hungover and hipster would serve me something along the lines of a Jager and Red Bull, but instead, I got myself a margarita. "Today, I made a margarita and the reason why is because it's Tequila Tuesday," Mungo tells me. "A lot of people come in, a lot of students, and they'll do a little Tequila Tuesday action. It's not that we even have a particular special or anything, it's just that...it's Tequila Tuesday."

There's nothing earth-shattering about the recipe: tequila, a mix of simple syrup and lime (Big Mario's makes their own sour) topped with a splash of OJ and soda. It's a little fancier than what Mungo likes to drink. "I'm easy. [I prefer] something like whiskey. Probably Jameson. I'll do a PBR or some other cheap beer. The simpler it is, the better."

The Verdict: The drink was really good. But what I remember most was how much it made me appreciate Big Mario's, as if it were a little bit of sunshine that parted the clouds during a dark and gloomy afternoon, like when you've had a shitty day at work and your low expectations when you enter an unfamiliar bar are exceeded ten-fold. Lisa and her margarita (and her pink shirt) definitely brightened the day. I found a new favorite in a bar I didn't think I'd like. And a dog I want to steal.

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