The Watering Hole: The Lodge Sports Grille, 107 Lake St., 425-202-7663, KIRKLAND
The Atmosphere: Mukilteo Lodge Sports Grille recently opened a second location in the heart of downtown Kirkland. The new watering hole, amid Kirkland's numerous coffee shops and fro-yo spots, ought to make professionals seeking a place to chill out in the evening rejoice. The long, narrow interior is divided in half with booths lining one side and the bar running the length of the opposite side, showcasing the 55 beers on tap behind it. Floor-to-ceiling front windows open completely, making the dark space much more inviting on a summer evening. On a Monday night the place is packed with 30-something professionals, with about half the booths taken and no open seats at the bar.
The Barkeep: Andre Noel tended bar at the Tap House Grill in Bellevue for six years before becoming manager at The Lodge. Despite his years of experience, he seemed pretty stressed-out by the surprisingly large Monday-night crowd, and firmly told me he didn't have time to chat.
The Drink: With 55 beers on tap, obviously this sports bar specializes in beer, but Noel whipped up something from their cocktail menu instead: a Dragon Fire Mojito. He muddled lime wedges and jalapeño peppers with ice, then added Dragon Berry Bacardi Rum and topped it off with a dash of Sprite, sticking in a few sprigs of mint and a lime wedge on the rim.
This cocktail has a kick; my eyes were watering and my mouth burning after the first few sips. If I enjoyed jalapeños, this drink would be delicious, but my aversion to anything spicy forced me to hand it to a friend.
The Verdict: The cocktails are well-crafted and the beer selection impressive. Judging by the large Monday-night crowd, this new establishment is well on its way to becoming a local favorite.