The Watering Hole: Pnk Ultra Lounge, 600 Pine St. (fourth floor of Pacific Place), 623-2222, DOWNTOWN.
The Atmosphere: It’s not just a clever name—the place is pink! Granted, not everything is actually pink, but because of the special lighting, the entire lounge seems bathed in the color. Or maybe it was the rose-colored glasses I wore that evening, hoping I’d enjoy my inaugural visit to this downtown “where Sex and the City meets Entourage” club (read: not my scene).
As soon as you walk in, you’ll see the nucleus of Pnk: a raised circular bar. Hovering above is a large, flickering, pink-and-white fiber-optic chandelier. On the walls surrounding the bar hang plasma televisions—some showing sports, others photos of what I imagine were patrons in various stages of fun, like what you’d see on your friend’s Facebook page. If a “dislike” button had been attached, I would have pounded it until it broke.
Ironically, what prevented me from a case of the creepy-crawlies was a bartender by the name of Roach.
The Barkeep: Joseph Roach is just about the nicest bartender I’ve ever met. He must have sensed I was a bit out of place at Pnk, and quickly made me one of his favorite drinks to take the edge off. I was seated next to some guy wearing a Coach fedora, so alcohol was of the essence.
A little about Joe: He’s originally from New York. He moved to Seattle four years ago after honing his bartending skills during a 10-year stopover in Atlanta. He told me he came to Seattle because “I went to school in Arizona, grew up in New York, lived in the Southeast, and this was the last corner I hadn’t tried.” First stop on the job list? “I was at Chapel for three years. Before that, Central Saloon.” Roach tells me he left Chapel because he wanted to mix things up a bit without mixing martinis all night.
His favorite place to drink when he’s not behind the bar is his own home. “There’re no lines to the bathroom, no lines at the bar. I can make whatever drinks I want and play whatever music.” But what keeps him returning to the job are his compatriots. “I’ve never worked with a group of more skilled bartenders. Everywhere I’ve worked, there’ve always been one or two people whose rent you feel like you’re paying. Here, everybody carries their weight. It’s a very rare thing in a bar.”
The Drink: It’s called a Crème Brûlée. “I like it because I have a big sweet tooth,” Roach tells me. “I usually make it as a shot, but I made it into a cocktail for you.” The drink is not on the menu. Why? “Because it’s one of my special drinks. I like to make it for my special customers.”
The Crème Brûlée is made with whipped-cream and caramel vodkas, butterscotch schnapps, and Bailey’s. As I glance at the Bubble Gum cocktail on the menu, I ask Roach if flavored vodkas are becoming more popular. “The whipped-cream flavor has become really popular. You can make lemon drops and a multitude of drinks with it.”
The Verdict: Though I expected to be knocked into a sugar coma, the drink was pleasantly smooth. You could definitely taste the alcohol, but it was just the right strength. It really was delicious, and a nice change of pace, I’m sure, from the mango pomegranate mojitos that everyone at Pnk seems to order. Looking at his co-workers, Roach tells me, “And all these guys say they’re out of mint, so I end up making them all night!”