Originally published August 18, 2011. We understand the concerns: For some, booze and films don’t mix. No one wants to sit in front of a loud drunk who thinks he’s auditioning for Mystery Science Theater 3000. And then there’s the risk of finishing your second beer and promptly falling asleep during an $11-a-ticket screening. But we’re all adults here, and sometimes, a glass of wine is the perfect warmup to a Woody Allen flick. In order to compete with the coziness of your home theater—where the drinks are free and you can eat pad thai without getting dirty looks—several area cinemas are offering a high-end movie-going experience, including full meals, seat-side service, and craft cocktails. Even the popcorn is classy.
AMC Pacific Place
Location: Downtown Seattle
The deal: On the second level of the cineplex, a bartender pours wine and local beers in a roped off area for the 21-and-over crowd. It’s just opposite the concession stand, so you can almost make a meal out of it, if you don’t mind a dinner of hot dogs and Dreyer’s Dibs.
Locations: Belltown, Redmond
The deal: Tucked away beneath El Gaucho, Big Picture maintains a bit of the decadence of the swank upstairs, with plush armchairs, sofas, and dim lighting giving it a lounge feel—like someone pimped out your grandma's living room. The theater itself is tiny, but bartenders bring drinks to your seat; we highly recommend the sangria and Champagne popcorn.
Location: Central District
The deal: One of the the first in the area to add drinking and dining to movie-going, Central Cinema does "dinner theater" properly with tables at your seat and waitstaff taking your order. They also encourage a little rowdiness with frequent sing-along screenings. Cafe Noir lounge is open 6-10 nightly.
Location: Mountlake Terrace (6009 244th St. SW)
The deal: Regal Entertainment recently launched a line of theaters to compete with iPic Theaters (see below), where servers come to your seat and take your beer, wine, and dessert order. The menu’s slim but satisfying: Mac and Jack’s and Manny’s, nearly a dozen wines by the glass, bottles of Moet and Chandon, apple pie and milkshakes. Let me repeat: milkshakes. The breakfast menu’s even better.
iPic Theaters (formerly Gold Class Cinema)
The deal: Let’s start with the fright factor: Tickets cost anywhere from $18.50–$27. For a movie. But that allows you to choose your seat online, recline in comfy oversized leather chairs, and sample from a menu of chef-prepared meals, plus beer and wine. Premium seats include a pillow and a blanket.
Northwest Film Forum
Location: Capitol Hill
The deal: We rejoiced when the Cap Hill staple got its liquor license; now they can serve beer and wine with the best of them. A heady brew complements the heady selection of foreign, arthouse, and indie films.
Any that we missed? Let us know in the comments below.