The Atmosphere: Since opening its doors in 2006, the Wilde Rover has become known as the neighborhood Irish pub in Kirkland. Nestled in the heart of downtown, the seemingly small restaurant has a surprisingly spacious interior. The bar sits in the center of a large, open area to the left, which opens onto a back deck overlooking the waterfront, and there's a separate dining section on the right for customers seeking a quieter atmosphere.
When my friend and I arrived at 10 on a Wednesday night, trivia was just wrapping up, and by the time we ordered a drink the previously packed bar was almost empty. A few groups of college students who were home for the holidays remained, but all the middle aged couples cleared out.
The Barkeep: Nick Sabin started working at the Wilde Rover after he graduated from Boise State University two years ago. He was a server for six months before being promoted to bartender, and says he likes mixing cocktails and pulling pints much better than serving food. Despite leaving BSU behind a couple years ago, Sabin's backwards hat and sneakers make him look a lot like a college bro.
The Drink: Sabin may look like he's straight out of college, but he mixes sophisticated cocktails. When told to make whatever he chooses, he opts for a French 75. Gin, muddled lemons and bitters are combined in a shaker, then strained into a martini glass and topped off with champagne. When asked if he drinks this himself, Sabin shakes his head. "This is more work than I'm willing to do for myself," he said. "Usually I drink Jameson."
The Verdict: I'm usually not a gin drinker, but the champagne and lemon masked the flavor enough to make the French 75 quite enjoyable. But I felt a little out of place sipping a sophisticated cocktail at this laid-back pub. Next time I'll get there early enough to participate in trivia night and grab a Guinness instead.