The Watering Hole: The Skylark Cafe & Club, 3803 Delridge Way S.W., 935-2111, WEST SEATTLE
Sister and brother, behind the bar.
The Atmosphere: Though by day it's your stereotypical dark bar, you never escape the feeling this place was made for nightlife. Beer signs, random knickknacks, and the small stage remind you that the Skylark serves some of the best times in West Seattle to be had after 9 p.m. The harsh light of morning reveals the Skylark to be clean enough that you needn't fear their food service.
The Barkeep: Matthew Pleasant is an East Coast transplant who's been in the Northwest only a few months. You can find him pouring in the a.m. on weekends at the Skylark, where his server sister Laura—also new to the Northwest—will be happy to take your breakfast order. (You can also find Mr. Pleasant, whose name is more than fitting, tending during the week at the Springhill Suites in South Lake Union.)
The Drink: Though the Bloody Empress (Absolut Peppar or 1800 Reposado; muddled olives, lemons, and limes; and housemade Bloody Mary mix) is the most popular drink among early risers, the Morning Mariachi (Kahlua, tequila, coffee, whipped cream, and cinnamon) provides a jolt of caffeine, and is surprisingly less sweet and definitely more fun than some Starbucks concoction.
The Verdict: Even though the exterior would never let you in on it, this is a top-notch cocktail joint. With drinks like the Bearskin Reynolds (Jim Beam, muddled cucumber, Aperol bitter-orange liqueur, and Drambuie), which have been thoughtfully crafted with care and humor, the Skylark is completely worthy of a pilgrimage west.