The Corner Bar’s Good-Time Girl

A Belltown reboot overcomes its debauched roots.

The Watering Hole: The Corner Bar, 2000 Second Ave., 448-3352, DOWNTOWN

The Atmosphere: Located on the, um, corner of Second and Virginia, The Corner Bar took over the space formerly occupied by The Whisky Bar, which took over the space formerly occupied by The Corner Bar. This new iteration of TCB opened last month and bears no resemblance to its infamously debauched ’90s namesake. (If those stalls could talk!) An oval-shaped bar occupies the center of the room, but the newly finished floors, fresh wainscoting, and new tables and chairs make the room feel more like a den of sophistication than of iniquity. There are a few booths, a TV playing college hoops silently on one wall, and plenty of stools for the downtown happy-hour crowd.

The Barkeep: Marisa Kaopelva moved to Seattle from Arizona in January. She was tending bar elsewhere in Belltown when this Corner Bar job opened up. While she likes mixing cocktails and stirs an exquisite Manhattan, Marisa loves the craft beers she now has access to in the Pacific Northwest. “No bars are serving these beers in Arizona,” she says. Asked about the difference between bar patrons in Phoenix and Seattle, the 24-year-old says, “People here know what they want.”

The Drink: When I ask Marisa what she recommends to drink, she first checks to make sure I drink whiskey. Above the bar are dozens of bourbons, whiskeys, and scotches, reminiscent of the Whisky Bar era. She recommends a drink on the menu called A Good Time—a combination of bourbon, Strega, and orange bitters stirred and served on the rocks with an orange twist. Marisa likes Strega, but hadn’t worked with it prior to relocating to Seattle.

The Verdict: The strong, somewhat sweet herbal Italian digestif plays well with bourbon. The orange bitters add just enough depth to spotlight the floral notes in the Strega. Our drinks are well-made and easy on the wallet, and the atmosphere is pleasant. But is the new Corner Bar too classy for this particular corner? As the evening goes on, the bar gets busier. The owners put up a Christmas tree, which definitely livens up the room. Once word gets out that they make tasty Manhattans and martinis at happy hour for just $6, The Corner Bar and Marisa are likely to get much busier.