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The Seattle Bar Scene: A Hub for Craft Beer, Washington Wine & Cocktails Galore



When it comes to sourcing wines, beers and even cocktails, Seattle bars pride themselves on stocking options that are locally produced and an integral part of regional culture. In Seattle, even the most divey of dive bars keep at least a couple of regional beers on tap, and the city was far ahead of the curve on the craft cocktail craze, too (think hand-mixed cocktails made with fresh juices, homemade syrups and seasonal garnishes). These days, even much of the booze mixed with those fresh ingredients comes from nearby sources, thanks to a handful of artisan distilleries throughout the city and state that produce their own gins and vodkas.

Of course, this entire list of best bars could simply read as a who’s who of local microbreweries, since each has its own brewpub and/or taproom. However, there is simply too much variety in the Emerald City to keep the focus that narrow, so here you will find a cross-spectrum of watering holes devoted to drinking in style–from posh hotel lounges to giant pool hall saloons. Another plus of Seattle pub life is the food: In such a progressive and forward-thinking foodie culture, bars pride themselves on quality grub, so you don’t have to rely on typical bar burgers or deep-fried fare to soak up the alcohol. Cheers!


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This local microbrewery, with its huge interior, expansive windows and copper-topped bar, is eminently cool and is a great place to hang out with friends and sample house-brewed beers. Many brews bear mythological names, in keeping with the brewery's name, and you'll find everything from lagers and stouts to pilsners and ales. A good menu of pub fare includes pastas, sandwiches, stews, fish and chips and other tasty dishes. As the brewery's original location, Elysian-Capitol Hill offers a 220-seat beer hall and full-service bar and restaurant constructed inside a 1919-era Packard storage building. As the website states, "This location is not only the birthplace of our company; it is where many of our events and festivals began."




Located between Fremont's Palentine and Greenwood streets, many regard the George & Dragon Pub as the UK's Seattle embassy, and it does attract its share of expats. Indeed, when "football's on the telly," you can expect to see this authentic English pub packed to the hilt with folks clamoring to see Arsenal, Man-United and the like. All the usual suspects are present and accounted for at the taps, whether it's John Courage, Bass or Newcastle you crave. In addition, the menu features classic pub fare like bangers & mash and shepherd's pie. This venue's no-nonsense ambiance and neighborhood feel has been attracting loyal fans sine 1995 and we're hoping it's around for a long time to come.


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Downtown
mbar
Photo courtesy of Mbar


Looking for a hot venue from which to take in some of Seattle's most breathtaking views? Although this place can be a bit of a scene, mbar, a socially-driven bar and restaurant, wows guests with its dazzling location and provides an elevated oasis looking over all of the South Lake Union action. Guests choose between Intimate indoor spaces and incredible rooftop dining options that provide sweeping views that simply can't be beat. Check out seasonal cocktails and dishes served on the open-patio, like the Scandinavian Spritz "Aquavit, rose liqueur, grapefruit bitters, sparkling rose, soda) or the Cascade Sunset (Tequila, Aperol, lime, mint, cucumber, firewater bitters).


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Quinn's Pub


Dark wood accents, floor-to-ceiling windows and a comfortable bar distinguish the interior of this striking two-level space. The pub delivers interesting beers and scrumptious gourmet cooking (with an ever-evolving menu) in a casual atmosphere. For example, sink your teeth into scallops, Cornish game hen, beet salads, burgers and wild boar sloppy Joes. While offering a full-bar selection of spirits, cocktails, beer and wine, Quinn's specializes in specialty import brew, along with a fine selection of whiskeys and bourbons. Among the coterie of many beers on tap, you will always find several Trappist ales, those brewed in European monasteries by devoted Trappist monks who survive on their brew while fasting.




Lively, casual, welcoming. Wrought iron fixtures, poured concrete floors and old-brick walls. More than 70 wines available by the pour or in flights. It's an excellent downtown destination whether you're on a date, meeting with friends or holding a business function. There are four locations in the Seattle metro area, and you can reserve your table at their web site - so no matter where you're closest to, you're close to an excellent afternoon or evening with wonderful food and amazing wines. Every day from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Bellevue, Kirkland and Woodinville locations (not downtown), the happy hour menu means $2 off drinks. Yet, more exciting news? Diners can snack on discounted, deletable dishes like gorgonzola-stuffed dates, calamari and steamed Manila clams.


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Pioneer Square
Good Bar
Photo courtesy of Suzi Pratt


This inviting Pioneer Square oasis welcomes visitors and locals to its soaring space, located on the corner of 2nd Avenue S and Main. Inside the recently renovated Pacific Commercial Building (originally built in 1900), find a neighborhood hangout that opened "with the intention of establishing a new gathering place for good food, good drink and good company that feels like it has always been there." The concept of Josh Kelly and his wife Nancy, this venue features classic cocktails, an extensive beer list, a thoughtful wine program and friendly service. The food proves straightforward, delicious and high-quality. Delight in dishes like the sloppy joe, mushroom tart, Waldorf salad and roasted mussels.




This small, revamped, hipster music venue proves a favorite among locals for the comfortable atmosphere, ample seating, decently priced covers and quality of shows by up-and-coming but still obscure rock bands. The stage here is low for a face-to-face experience. Early birds hang out in the sectioned-off bar area up front (called Betty's Room) to enjoy drinks before or after the set begins. Though Ballard has several options for catching live music, this is one of the more intimate and cozy, in our opinion. Come along to people watch and enjoy the bar scene, even if you're not attending a show.


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Downtown


A popular restaurant by day, the Alibi Room really comes alive at night. Owned by a group of filmmakers, the club works to support independent films and their creators, by fostering an artistic dialogue among patrons and making scripts available for public perusal. If that's a bit heavy for you, just come and dance to the mixed rhythms of rotating DJs or enjoy one of their specialty vodka drinks. You'll also find live music from time to time, along with a great wine list and tasty appetizers. A real local favorite, Alibi plays host to everyone from the eccentric to the street smart.




You're in the beery Pacific Northwest, where microbreweries pop up on every street corner. If you're interested in a tried-and-true neighborhood joint in which to sample suds from a wide variety of those breweries, Brouwer's Cafe in Fremont is pure beervana. Obviously run by hop heads and beer geeks, Brouwer's staff is amazingly knowledgeable about lagers and ales. They had better be. This casual and understated pub offers no fewer than 64 rotating draft selections, along with more than 300 bottled brews and 60-something types of Scotch. And to help soak up some of that beer in your belly, the cafe features a Eurocentric menu of exceptional eats like mussels and frites.


Redhook Brewlab
Photo courtesy of Redhook Brewlab


Redhook Brewlab's popular, spacious concept (great for large groups) is described as "an intersection of Seattle history and culture – a place where the city's eclectic influences mix – art, science, brewing, food and music." Housed within Capitol Hill's historic Pike Motorworks Building, the bright and airy space offers a friendly, modern brewery and pub that's a perfect gathering destination before or after sports games (in any season). The Brewlab features 16 taps of rotating small-batch beers (brewed on site by Redhook Head Brewer Nick Crandall), and an alluring food menu centers around a stone-hearth oven from Bellingham. Think tasty snacks and share plates that range from sliders to oysters.


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Meet Corinne Whiting

Corinne hails from the other Washington, where she caught the travel bug early on. Corinne studied abroad in Strasbourg, France (undergrad) and in Edinburgh, Scotland (graduate school). She's...  More About Corinne

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