Bars are a dime a dozen in Seattle where as the population continues to skyrocket, so do the oft-mediocre watering holes around densely inhabited neighborhoods. But a good bar, with a unique cocktail experience, is one worth scribing about. Here are six experiential lounges that rise above the rest.
Sip barrel-aged cocktails in the sky at Smith Tower. The first skyscraper in Seattle when it opened in 1914, Smith Tower has remained a cultural landmark in the city but it wasn’t until a recent remodel and self-reinvention that it now registers as a noteworthy drinks stop. A ticket to the Observatory Deck on the 35th floor is required ($19 for adults, $12 for Washington State residents, $8 during happy hour) to wind through the floors learning about Seattle’s Prohibitionist past, the bar itself channels the speakeasy too — but with a 360-degree view of the city. Take advantage of the sites with a drink from the house barrel-aging program like the Old Fashioned, taken up a notch by aging the finished cocktail in charred oak barrels for one-two months and topped with a brandied cherry.
Brunch is better with paired libations at Heartwood Provisions. Weekends are for brunching at Heartwood Provisions, one of the nation’s first restaurant-bars to tout a fully cocktail-paired food menu. On Saturdays and Sundays from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., breakfast is served with a side of craft cocktail in this high-ceiled and open space, ideal for day-starting. Many on the low-proof scale and all built for easy-drinking, the menu also pairs with mocktail options, in case it’s just too early in the day for something hard. Match the Americano Bianco (a Negroni variation) with the smoked pork shoulder hash and consider your day made by the time brunch is over.
Two words: personalized service at Foreign National. Plenty of ink has been spilled over Foreign National and for good reason — the intimate setting might hold a line at the front door when at seating capacity, but that’s because the staff guarantees a personalized experience once you enter the door. The cocktail menu finds inspiration in Asian flavors, like its neighboring sister restaurant Stateside, so be sure to order something that is outside of your flavor comfort zone. A recent visit to the bar offered the Snap Pea Comeback, a farm-fresh market basket of a cocktail with blanco tequila, vodka, snap peas, grapefruit, lime, salt and orange bitters topped with cider.
Cocktails with a side of dumplings at Stampede Cocktail Club. One of the latest additions to the constant change of Fremont, also known as the Center of the Universe, Stampede Cocktail Club offers something that has been missing on the main drag of the neighborhood since Revel/Quion had to close its doors due to its building coming down: craft cocktails. Moody, dimly lit but not without a sense of humor — there’s a dinosaur head mounted on the wall — regularly rotating cocktails make up the menu and, maybe the most exciting detail, dumplings from Greenwood’s Little Ting’s are the sole food option. Bonus: the spacious patio welcomes guests until 2 a.m. for excellent people watching.
Rooftop vibes at The Nest at The Thompson Hotel. This is a Seattle summer experiential must. Yes, the guy in the unnecessarily tight t-shirt next to you might look more New Jersey than Emerald City, but the drinks and birds-eye view of Pike Place Market and the waterfront at The Nest‘s rooftop bar and terrace are hard to beat. Cozy corners are complemented with fire pits and lush greenery thrives throughout the open-air space outdoors, while a recently beefed up cocktail menu includes a Suntory Whisky highball machine that pops out frosty Japanese whisky-sodas that promise five times the fizz than regular soda water. Have two.
Eat your meat and drink it too at The Butcher’s Table. From the folks that have been bringing Seattleites and beyond Beecher’s Handmade Cheese for the last 15 years comes this young restaurant and bar focused on the finer, redder, meatier things in life. The Butcher’s Table has also curated a rockin’ cocktail menu both at the bars upstairs and down. Snag a seat at the sultry, subterranean lounge top downstairs and enjoy the off-menu Wagyu Beef Fat-Washed Old Fashioned. For starters, the restaurant’s chef smokes the trim of Wagyu steaks with applewood and hickory for the bar to create a fat-wash, where they heat the rum enough to render it with the fat and infuse, melding all the flavor and aroma of the fat to this rum Old Fashioned.