Vermouth night. Whiskey tastings. The owners of Columbia City’s popular Lottie’s Lounge aim to make Jude’s a Rainier Beach hangout.

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The crowd was sparse, a slow start to his shift. So from behind the bar, the tattooed mixologist made small talk about the “Whiskies of the World” tasting held the previous night here, where nine patrons cozied up to sample nine spirits and three whiskey cocktails paired with nibbles for $50.

As progress goes, this was a rousing success for a bar in Rainier Beach, an area not known for fancy cocktails nor top-shelf spirits.

“I’m going to do a vermouth night next,” bar manager Mark Paschal said.

By 5 o’clock, his attention turned to the door as folks trickled in from the rain, most eyeing the “½ off appetizers!” sign on the board. Others studied the new, expanded three-page craft-cocktail menu.

The drink list looks like it could’ve been cribbed from any number of cocktail lairs in hipper neighborhoods. The microbrew lineup includes the trendy Holy Mountain on tap. A low-budget but well-curated whiskey selection takes up much real estate on the modest back bar.

Jude’s is owned by Beau and Courtney Hebert, the couple behind the corner bar Lottie’s Lounge, which has become the hangout in Columbia City, three miles up the street.

They aim to make Jude’s the Lottie’s of Rainier Beach.

It opened two years ago, and Beau admits there are still a few slow nights too many. But that was also the case at Lottie’s Lounge before that bar blew up.

He’s hoping for good karma.

Drinks at Jude’s are $2 to $4 cheaper here than on Capitol Hill, due to the cheaper real estate. After 9 p.m., Manhattans and other classics go for $6. In recent weeks, they have upped their cocktail program, from $9 daiquiri specials to an Oaxaca Old Fashioned fortified with mescal and tequila for something stiffer.

On this Taco Tuesday, the bartender made a south-of-the-border spin on a Seattle favorite, The Last Word, tweaking it with mescal along with green chartreuse, maraschino liqueur and lime.

“If there’s a drink in Seattle you can’t mess up, it’s this one, right?” said Paschal, carefully pouring in the agave spirit.

And he didn’t. It was a smoky take, though still crisp and tart and true to that pre-Prohibition-era drink. His next offering was a play on the Manhattan with some floral notes from an amaro and nuttiness from a dry sherry.

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The evening turned out to be more hectic and perhaps more hairy than he expected.

A health inspector paid a visit — surprise! — and got behind the bar to gauge the temperature of the half-and-half in his fridge before concluding, “You’re fine.”

A reporter dropped in unannounced — he found out a day later in a phone interview — to check out his bar game.

The Rainier Beach Running Club decided to meet now instead of its usual Monday meetup for a four-mile run. One member called to say he won’t run but might join them after for a beer.

“I like the way that guy thinks,” another patron said.

Jude’s Old Town, 9254 57th Ave. S. (Rainier Beach), Seattle, offers happy hour Tuesday-Saturday 4-6 p.m. with half off on all appetizers, $1 off on beer, wine and cocktails. Late night $6 drink specials from 9 p.m.-11 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday. Closed Sunday and Monday (206-420-4889 or judesoldtown.com). Information is more up to date on its Facebook page.