The Watering Hole: Belltown Pub , 2322 1st Avenue, 448-6210, BELLTOWN

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Calm and Cool, the Belltown Pub Will Refresh You

The Watering Hole: Belltown Pub, 2322 1st Avenue, 448-6210, BELLTOWN

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The Atmosphere: Stopping to enjoy some of the last rays of sun before a long, gray autumn sets in, I glanced up at the gnarled trees on the hanging sign suspended above the sidewalk and stepped through the door into the Belltown Pub. Greeted by a few of the waitresses, I grabbed a seat at the bar and promptly downed a glass of happy hour Pinot Noir. Following that, another glass of vino, and--alcohol receptors properly lubed--I got down to business.

The crowd was small but lively for happy hour. Folks chatted eagerly over cheap food and drinks. The warm, late summer sun floated serenely in the sky before disappearing behind the buildings of 1st Avenue. Sunlight flooded in through floor-to-ceiling windows and bathed patrons in Vitamin D. It must have been 80 degrees outside. Inside, the space is lofty and woody, decorated with taxidermy, Jameson bottle light fixtures and a mounted single-barrel shotgun. The copper-colored ducting, hanging exposed from the white-washed ceiling, along with the red brick walls make for a clean, industrial space. As is so often the case, very old buildings just seem like nice places to be.

The Barkeep: Lisa Raybell has a friendly smile and easy-come laugh. She's kept bar at the Belltown Pub for two years. From down the bar, a waitress yelled, "Hey, Lisa. Do we have a potato vodka?" "Luksusowa," she yelled back, hinting that she knows her booze.

The Drink: Asked to make a concoction of her choosing, Raybell crushed, poured and mixed expertly, creating the light and bubbly Moscow Mojito. The potion, served in a sweaty copper cup, is a mix of Moscow Mule and Mojito. Its ginger beer and gin made for a refreshing combination, sweetened with a simple syrup and soured with fresh-squeezed lime. I drank mine through a straw, and little morsels of muddled mint were sucked up with every sip. I chewed the little flavor fountains. "It's crispy," said Raybell. "I like to give people a good Mojito, because they are kind of hard to find in this city of ours." Suddenly, I was whisked away to an island world of sugar sand beaches, turquoise water and classic cars. "Hey, Mr. Hemingway! You have to try this drink!"

The Verdict: The Belltown Pub is calm and cool, and you feel comfortable and happy while drinking expertly crafted libations and chatting with the friendly staff and customers. Everyone seems to have a nice time, and that can be infectious. The food is good. The drinks are delicious. Next time, Luksusowa is on the "To Try" list.

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