Oliver's Lounge offers Christmas-card-perfect views and free happy-hour food. Play nice.

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Happy Hour |

Lots of downtown spots to people-watch, but few better than Oliver’s Lounge during December.

From a barstool, you get views of the 12-story-high Christmas tree across the street and the passers-by with their Macy’s shopping bags strolling by the wreaths, red ribbons and lights along the sidewalks.

A majestic scene, too, if there are snowflakes floating and Christmas carols in the air. Makes you want to put on your coat and … actually, no. You’re not going to want to leave your warm barstool, your hot buttered rum and the free bar food that’s served during happy hour.

This stool here will do just fine.

Before classic cocktails became hip, before bartenders became “mixologists,” Oliver’s reigned as one of Seattle’s premiere cocktail lounges, especially for martinis — and it still does, especially when bartender Patrick Donnelly Jr. is mixing.

He’s still mixing (on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays), and he’s still one of Seattle’s most underrated talents.

It could be wind-blowing-beanie-off-your-head chilly. Doesn’t matter. Order a Hendricks martini here, request it with a “hard shake” to get that ice-crystal, slushylike texture — my perfect gin martini.

Those free appetizers: two bar-food dishes put out on the table, usually mozzarella-cheese sticks, chicken strips, mini beef burritos, nachos or quesadillas.

You get the picture: rich, cheesy snacks with a crunchy texture — your typical bar food.

A side note: Every time I write about a bar that offers free food, some patrons will call to complain what a madhouse it creates. Usually a few people fighting to stuff themselves. Be courteous. Play nice. And don’t cut in line.

Oliver’s Lounge, inside the Mayflower Park Hotel, 405 Olive Way, offers happy hour from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Mondays-Fridays with complimentary appetizers with paid drink. Cocktails cost about $8-$9 (206-623-8700 or www.mayflowerpark.com/olivers.asp).

Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or tvinh@seattletimes.com