The Place: The Hideout, 1005 Boren Ave, 206-903-8480, FIRST HILL
The Hours: Monday through Friday, 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.
The Deal: While the Hideout is mostly unassuming, there's always a slight undercurrent of upscale -- but during happy hour, the prices are even comparable to the nearby Quarter Lounge, with $1.50 Rainiers, $3.50 wells and drafts, and $5 rotating house wine. Happy hour cocktail specials are, my barkeep assured me, forthcoming.
The Digs: The Hideout has carved out a beautiful little niche in First Hill: an art-appreciative, community bar. What they do most successfully, though, paralleled perhaps only by the likes of Hazlewood, is putting together a program that is broad enough to have something for most bar-going tastes without sacrificing a very specific and cohesive ambiance.You're the one Cosmo drinker in your group? Here it's called the Andy Warhol, and it comes with a Polaroid of you and your buds. You're a die-hard whiskey hound that only likes drinks made entirely of different kinds of alcohol? They have you covered there with the bourbon-and-amaro concoction Shot in the Dark. Wine drinker? Oh, just perch yourself on one of those plush, black couches and daintily set your glass down on their smattering of coffee tables. You just want a beer or a well? Go ahead; sit at the bar and drown your sorrows. If you want to rage but you still want to feel cultured, go ahead and get the Hemingway: a bottle of Mexican beer, a shot of tequila, and a cigarette.
Their happy hour is a testament to the versatility of the First Hill neighborhood as well as the Hideout itself. They boast two sets of regulars: daytime and nighttime. Nighttime regulars are what you might expect for the pop culture-heavy original cocktails and bar-curated art books: young, hip and sometimes even fancy. The daytime regulars, though, never show their face at night. These are the First Hill businesspeople and hospital workers. They're here for the couches and the cheap drafts, and it caters just fine for those who need an atmosphere a little more deliberate than that of the nearby Quarter Lounge. While those aforementioned cocktails aren't part of the happy hour specials, the bar's environment, both day and night, speaks to that same, meticulously groomed, yet low-pressure experience.
The Verdict: Maybe you're in a fantastic, energetic mood and want to get your Friday night started early with a group of your favorite best friends; that works, too. And you'll all find something you can drink, even if you're on opposite ends of the down-to-party spectrum.
Or maybe you're tired, and you don't have the energy to face a bright, standard bar and all the social pressure that comes with it. It's dim in there, even during the daytime. Come as you are and curl up on a couch with a glass of whiskey and stare at one of their community art books. You'll feel better in no time, and way less depressed than if you had stayed home with a bottle and some Netflix, and they even have smokes.