But if a bar moves—especially from a classic corner-bar spot to a contemporary cavern of a space—can it ever be the same?
The last time I went to the Whisky Bar*, it was 4 p.m. on a Saturday, and it was great:
The bartender at the Whisky Bar has a truly beautiful, truly terrible black eye. It's still swollen squinty, and the damage extends to cheek and ear in colors that human skin should never be, the colors of Mardi Gras. No one stands on ceremony at the Whisky Bar—it's come-as-you-are, do-as-you-please (within reason)—but in this case a code is in place: Don't stare, no matter how much you want to (which is a lot).
A question is ill-advised but cannot be contained: How does the other guy look?
"My friends took care of him," he says, grim. He's of the tough-but-not-unkind school of bartending; when a guy in a Seattle Marathon T-shirt asks if they have Hoegaarden, instead of barking, "NO, JACKASS," he says, shortly, "Hefeweizen is the closest." He's got a machine gun, among other things, tattooed on his arm. Under and around the bruises, he looks good-looking. If life were a movie, he'd be chosen to play himself—Bartender with Black Eye...