The Upstairs bills itself as a cocktail destination, but if you’re the sort that forms passionate allegiances to certain brands of bitters or likes to play spirit roulette, you might want to continue on Second Avenue until you hit Bathtub Gin, Rob Roy, Spur, or, on certain nights of the week, the Trophy Room at Shorty’s.
This new bar owned by, and located upstairs from, tapas bar Pintxo, can make a solid drink. Though it’s hard to ignore the fact that the menu contains a “classy version” of the Long Island iced tea, and a drink described as “a grown up Shirley Temple with vodka.”
But all is not lost. The bar has a dimly lit hideaway vibe that’s a nice contrast to Belltown’s usual high energy. The shotgun layout resembles my first apartment in Chicago, after an olive green paint job and the addition of some chandeliers, a heavy wooden bar, a bunch of art and, naturally, some ornate wallpaper. The furniture is a tasteful hodgepodge that carries on that whole apartment feel (these rooms were most recently art gallery/social club the McLeod Residence).
The Upstairs gets busier later at night, which means the 5-to-7 happy hour is an ideal window for a low-key drink. The front room has seats aplenty and you can converse without shouting over any sort of clamor or din. Come in for happy hour and you’ll be drinking the basics. Sierra Nevada and Ren-yay are $3 and $2, house wine will run you $6 and well drinks are $4. I’ve been a few times when there’s an additional happy hour special, so be sure to ask. You’ll likely cast a longing eye at some of the fancier offerings, but you’ll also drink very cheaply. Which is why you like happy hour in the first place, correct?
Despite the cocktail-centric menu, your best bet might be the beer list. Here you’ll find cheap stuff alongside regional standouts including beers from Odin, Two Beers and Schooner Exact, and some national micro-favorites from places like Stone, Russian River, and Colorado’s Avery Brewing. The bar also has a deep bench of locally produced spirits.