The Watering Hole: ToST Lounge, 513 N. 36th St., 547-0240, FREMONT
Schreck more than makes up for iffy funk/jazz fusion.
The Atmosphere: Though intentionally misspelled names usually don't bode well, there's actually something to be said for ToST, a Fremont bar that specializes in cheap happy-hour pizzas and drinks so strong you could light 'em on fire. It's got a cozy little nook in the back with a woodstove and a comfy couch, room for dancing to the funk and jazz-fusion bands that dominate the venue's eclectic music schedule, and nice blue mood lighting. Its clientele is a laid-back mix of hippies and the sort of folks who like jam bands.
The Barkeep: Cassie Schreck, who's been pouring the happy juice at ToST for about two years. Before that, she was a regular here. It's easy to see why they hired her: She's probably one of the sweetest, most approachable bartenders you're likely to encounter in Seattle. Her sweet demeanor more than makes up for the iffy funk–jazz fusion band onstage.
The Drink: A Cucumber Twist, which is, Cassie says, one of the bar's most popular shots. This time, she makes it as a drink. It's a relief that she's not making some saccharine, foofy nonsense. For the discerning boozer, fresh and light trumps sweet every time.
The Verdict: Cucumber drinks, like bars with bizarrely misspelled names, can be iffy. But this one is actually pretty tasty. It begins with muddled cucumber and gin, which complements the crisp cucumber taste. Though it's got a splash of simple syrup, sour mix, and a little 7-Up, it's not at all sweet. It's refreshing, summery, and light. It's also pretty damn strong.