The Fiddler's Inn's Hoppy New Year

An ex-techie takes solace behind a Wedgwood bar.

The Watering Hole: Fiddler's Inn, 9219 35th Ave. N.E., 525-0752, WEDGWOOD

The Atmosphere: One of the first bars in Seattle to secure a liquor license after Prohibition ended, Fiddler's Inn was built in 1933. It changed ownership and underwent a remodel in 1995. (The proprietors also run the Hopvine Pub on Capitol Hill and the Latona Pub near Green Lake.) There's a campground cookhouse-meets-ski lodge feel to the creaky, wooden room. Board games, broken-in crime novels, and a vintage Merriam-Webster dictionary are stacked in one corner, while dried hops hang from the rafters near the bar. It's like mistletoe, only better.

The Barkeep: Working on and off at Fiddler's for the past decade, Les Leslie has a background in the tech industry. Whenever he gets frustrated with cubicle life, he comes back to bartending. Leslie prides himself on knowing the name of almost every regular. "I'm an introvert, so bartending is more of a challenge than sitting in front of a screen all day," he says. "Every time I pour a beer, someone says, 'Thank you.' No one says, 'Thank you' in the tech world."

The Drink: The Fiddler keeps it simple, serving a rotating list of only beer and wine. When I asked Leslie to serve me a drink of his choice, he picked Anacortes IPA. In the Pacific Northwest, "more hops than you can handle" is a common beer battle cry, and this pint fits the bill.

The Verdict: With traces of grapefruit, Anacortes IPA is floral, herbal and, yes, very hoppy. A sweet, clean malt makes the pint thick enough to be comforting in winter while still managing to be refreshing. With dusk hitting a little after 4 p.m. these days, the Fiddler's Inn is the place to order nachos, drink a couple of reasonably priced rounds, and ride out a long night.

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