The Watering Hole: Sambar, 425 N.W. Market St., 569-5009, BALLARD
The Atmosphere: Perhaps more somber now than in its youth, Sambar remains a classy establishment in spite of its (and conjoined twin Le Gourmand's) impending closure. Dim lights, reflected by a narrow mirror along one wall and windows along another, play enticingly off the polished glass bottles behind the bar. Tables are designed for small groups and intimate conversation, and though few bars ever pull this off, the music at Sambar is almost always just loud enough to drown out the conversation next door without drowning out your own.
The Barkeep: Michael Getz has a demeanor well-suited to his surroundings. His manner is subdued, his appearance polished, and his beverage preparation meticulous. But the twinkle in his eyes hints at a wit just waiting for an opportunity to surface.
The Drink: If you want to make a bartender nervous, here's the trick: Walk up to the bar and answer the simple question "What can I get for you?" with something obnoxious like "So. If you were going to go down in history for making one cocktail, what cocktail would it be?" [Insert sound of crickets here.]
Getz, it turns out (after the crickets subside), doesn't do favorites; he does seasons: Sambar's closing cocktail list is full of smoky, floral, and fruity flavors that could make a person want to drop everything, pack a bag, and book a flight to somewhere much more tropical than Seattle. A couple of the cocktails on the list are Getz's own creations, and he directs my attention to one called La Corrida. A blend of mezcal, ruby-red grapefruit marmalade, fresh sage, and grapefruit bitters, its pale pink shade yields a rich, herbal, smoky flavor.
The Verdict: La Corrida's startling flavor is not for everyone, but if you're in the mood for summer foods and flavors at any time this dreary week, it just might be for you. But whether you order this cocktail or another, make certain to stop by Sambar before it closes at the end of June.