I love drinking in Seattle. When the rain hits the streets or the fog rolls off the mountains and wraps this emerald metropolis in a cloak, the city feels like a secret paradise. Sometimes Tawny and I get a hotel downtown, just so we can take a weekend away from home and not have to worry about driving anywhere. It feels like Seattle has more bars than stars in the sky, and a few favorites come to mind.
Pike Place Market is a beautiful part of the city, perched on the edge of the city and keeping vigil over Puget Sound. First-time Seattle visitors busy exploring the vendor stalls might overlook my favorite part of the area: Post Alley. This little brick alley is just west of the main shopping area and runs parallel to the market itself. It’s home to some of my favorite bars in the city. If you’re in the mood for something intimate, check out the White Horse. It is marked only by a wooden sign with a white horse on it. When you enter, often you are greeted by the largest Irish Wolfhound in the Pacific Northwest. You might find the barkeep pulling glasses of mead from a small oak cask and handing around the piece of cardboard on which he has written his menu. Wooden doors are laid across barrels to make tables. To sit, you pull up a leather sofa.
Just down the alley is The Kells. This rocking bar is the flip-side of the White Horse–a boot stomping bar often full of young kids. Both bars are incredible, so whether you’re feeling crazy or mellow, you’re only 30 yards away from a great night.
The Owl and Thistle
South of Pike Place Market, tucked into another alley (sensing a theme?), is a Scottish-themed bar at which I’ve spent many a night. The Owl and Thistle is an unassuming pub that offers excellent beer and incredible food. The place’s Shepard’s Pie is (in my opinion) the best in Seattle. The beer is good, too. Originally, this bar was a cafeteria for commuters and blue-collar workers in the 1930s. It kept that vibe it was revitalized in the 1990s with more modern Scottish charm. Thankfully, the bar has the same mission statement it always had: “To give a warm meal and stiff drink to the working man of Seattle.”
The Needle and Thread
Another of my faves, The Needle and Thread, is a genuine speakeasy. This bar sits on top of a restaurant called Tavern Law. To gain access, you must pick up an old rotary phone next to a bank vault door in the restaurant. If you’re lucky enough to gain access, you enter through the vault door and ascend a narrow flight of stairs. The bar itself is a maze-like strip on the upper level of the building. There is no menu here, only the special forces of bartenders. You tell them which type of liquor you prefer and they will craft you the single greatest cocktail you ever have had in your life. The prices for this magic might seem a touch high, but this special treat of a bar will set your new standard. I honestly can say that I never have had better cocktails in my life than the ones I’ve enjoyed at Needle and Thread.
Viewfinder Tip: In Bellevue, check out Lot No. 3, a Prohibition-themed bar with tasty handcrafted cocktails.
Another must-do bar in Seattle is the Whiskey Bar. This downtown watering hole once was considered a dive bar, but since has blossomed into one of the most highly regarded whiskey and scotch bars in the city. With a staggering selection of beer and more than 400 options of brown liquor, it is the drinking man’s Valhalla. I love their Old Fashioneds because they steep their cherries in bourbon. The Whiskey feels like a British version of Cheers. The charm is just as intoxicating as the Scotch.
What types of bars do you like to visit when you travel?