It’s no secret that a visit to Seattle can mean some pretty dreary weather. But that just makes the drinking establishments, whether they are dive bars or bespoke cocktail bars, seem all the more cozy and inviting.
So whether you’re stopping through on a business trip or planning to do the whole thing with the Space Needle and seeing dudes throw fishes at Pike’s Place Fish Market, here’s where you need to check out close to downtown.
This small Belltown beer bar has about 20 ultra-craft beers on tap and a chart to let you know if your pick of sour or saison is approachable or esoteric (and a very friendly staff that is happy to help). Pair your brew with a snack like a local shrimp on a pretzel roll with homemade ketchup potato chips, or fresh radishes with a parmesan custard.
After gorging yourself at Pike’s Place Market, you need something to settle your stomach. Thankfully, there’s a place that just sells more than 10 different flavors of ginger beer, including caramelized pineapple, cucumber and tarragon, and black currant. You can drink it alone, or spike any flavor with alcohol. They even have ginger beer slushie cocktails.
Walking into this red-lit space is like taking a very low dose of huyasaca and feeling the warm embrace of the womb. Not quite feeling it yet? Order a special like the Devil’s Claw, a can of White Claw with a hibiscus sugar rimmed shot of El Jimador on the side and let the playlist with post-punk and neo-psychedelic jams from bands like the Brian Jonestown Massacre wash over you.
This is a another very red-lit and cozy Seattle bar, but in the nearby First Hill neighborhood. The 1950s lounge was revamped and reopened in 2010, and the space hosts live music. There’s a dining room, but the place to be is at the circular bar where you can watch live music. Tell the bartenders what you like and they’ll mix up something custom for you, or order a classic martini and a plate of spaghetti and meatballs for a perfect retro red sauce evening.
This Capitol Hill bar has made appearances on the 50 Best Bars list, is tiny, and only accommodates seated guests so the wait for a spot can be painful. But once you get in, you have access to America’s largest spirit collection — more than 4,000 bottles — and some of the craziest cocktail presentations around. The Whole Paycheck is a bourbon drink served in a mini shopping cart and paper bag, and the Elementary is served in a smoking glass “pipe.”
Canon may have the lock on the biggest spirits collection, but Capitol Cider rolls deep with all things apple. The have 22 rotating taps of craft cider as well as more than 200 bottles with some rare and international finds. The kitchen is gluten free, and they host a bustling weekend brunch.