The Watering Hole: Feierabend, 422 Yale Ave. N., 340-2528, SOUTH LAKE UNION
The Atmosphere: Google Translate is at least seven-tenths useless. For example, see this gem, translating the history of Feierabend from GermanWiki: " . . . Before the clocks in all houses, even pocket watches were for individuals, this daily celebration evening began with a long time in Catholic areas still used today . . . " It could be talking about a call to prayer. Possibly about bell-ringing. Not sure.
Fortunately, my German roommate is somewhat more useful than Google, informing me that "Feierabend" is a German phrase used to indicate that one has worked enough, and that it is emphatically—as the American colloquialism would phrase it—"5 o'clock here, beginning right now."
Much like its sister businesses, Prost! in Greenwood and West Seattle and Die Bierstube in Roosevelt, the attitude "Time for a break! I've earned it!" is evident at Feierabend. Even during work hours, bratwurst and beer flow freely over business lunches. After 5 p.m., it's a party all the time.
The Barkeep: Kessler Dixon—Alaska-bred, trivia-sharing, story-topping, Journey-singing, artistically tattooed bartender extraordinaire—is probably responsible for at least half the UW students who have actually graduated in the past five years. When I moved to Seattle and started grad school, my cousin, then a recent UW grad, reassured me about life with the phrase "Meet Kessler." He was right.
The Drink: When I told Kessler to forget everything he knew about my whiskey preferences and make me his favorite drink to make, he made me three drinks—plus one for a friend. I didn't like one of them, so he handed me a glass with a tiny amount of clear liquid in it. "Here, taste this." Then, as I coughed and gagged, he added, "That's what I figured. Don't order things with Campari in them." Classic Kessler move.
The Verdict: Three out of four is a fairly solid ratio. Little tweaks to the bar menu make it just that much better: The Sudseite is made with bar ginger, the "Vodka" Sweet Tea is made with Maker's Mark, and the Old Fashioned (my favorite) incorporates rye and honey liqueur. Kessler is at his very best, however, once you get to know him. Become a regular and he'll be that bartender who has your drink on the table almost before you're there—the one who notices and correctly interprets a subtle eyebrow from across the room. Everybody needs at least one bartender like that in their life.