The Watering Hole: Royal Booze and Burritos, 5211 University Way N.E., 659-0244, UNIVERSITY DISTRICT
The Atmosphere: For the first nine hours of its day, Royal Booze and Burritos is a mellow watering hole where industry people around the Ave come to catch a game. The sizable back deck is the perfect place to relax with a margarita and a massive burrito when the sun is out. But come back around 11 p.m., and the place will be so crammed with hammered college kids you won't even be able to get to the bar unless you're willing to push your way through a pack of sorority girls doing vodka shots.
The Barkeep: Tattooed, bearded Garrett Nelson is a little hipper than the bros who typically hang out at Royal Booze, but with his chatty, easygoing nature, he probably gets along just fine with them. He is a UW junior, but must be at least 23, as he has been bartending for two years. He also pulls shifts at A Pizza Mart down the street, which is owned by the same guys. Nelson says the joint ownership is how Royal Booze got its nickname, B-Mart. "People realized that all the bartenders are the same. So they're like, 'Oh, there's the A place or the B place—we get the same people at both.' " Prior to joining the Royal Booze crew, he worked at Earl's on the Ave.
The Drink: Despite his tattoos, Nelson makes a pretty girly cocktail, whipping up a Key Lime Pie Martini with Pinnacle Whipped Vodka, pineapple juice, and crushed limes. He tops it off with a sugar-coated rim, then adds three lime slices, instructing me to bite a lime after I take a sip. When I ask if he really drinks this, he admits he usually drinks beer, but says this is his go-to cocktail, insisting "It's girly, but it's good."
The Verdict: Despite the tart aftertaste, this martini is still overwhelmingly sweet. Drink more than one and you'll have a raging, sugar-induced hangover in the morning. But most 20-something college girls would love this sweet treat, and Royal Booze is, after all, a college bar.