Celtic Swell

Lucky Charm

From its perch on West Seattle's Alki Beach, the lights of the city sparkle on the horizon, and glowing green ferries drift past your view: The Celtic Swell just might be the nicest Irish pub in both towns. The Irish-built, -owned, and -operated Swell takes obvious pride in its atmosphere and its dedication to craic (fun). But you can't see getting too rowdy in the small space, where high-backed mahogany booths face an elegant and expertly stocked bar, with Guinness and Smithwick's as the premier on-tap offerings. A tall Irish root beer ($7) tastes like one, but dangerously contains coke, spiced rum, and Guinness, with a rich head floating on top of the stealthy concoction. The Blueberry Muffin ($7) is an aromatic marriage of blueberry Stoli and vanilla cognac, and a generous pour to boot. You can even get the (ever-more-ubiquitous) pomegranate cocktail, to accompany a heaping plate of bangers or nachos served late (from an employee who might call you "pumpkin"). The talented singer Erin McNamee holds court on Wednesdays, playing U2's "One" and Henry Mancini's "Moon River" on the night we were there. Eventually, her audience thinned to a group of appreciative blokes, entranced by her voice and guitar. Opposite them on the back wall, a digital sign counted down the seconds until St. Patrick's Day—51 days, four hours, and 39 minutes on our visit—but with the Swell's good music, friends, and ale (oh, and that view!), there's something to celebrate every day. RACHEL SHIMP

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