Seattle’s craft beer and cocktail ABVs (Alcohol by Volume) got out of control in the last decade or so. A manhattan with four ounces of rye, a double IPA that clocks in at 9 percent yet still comes in a pint glass. In the last couple years, though, some bars and breweries around the city have eased up on the ABV. Here are a few places for cutting back without teetotalling completely.
Georgetown’s Machine House stands subtly out from the slew of other breweries. They have a niche—English-style cask ales—a lovely old building, and constant quality. While brews’ range in ABV, their three signature ales—Dark Mild, Golden Ale, Best Bitter—clock in between 3.7 percent and 4.5 percent and are proof positive a flavorsome “light” beer is not an oxymoron. Machine House opened another outpost in the Central District, which was recently renamed to the Capercaillie due to slight ownership changes but remains a cask-ale pub doppelganger.
Seattle’s most hyped brewery is famous for saisons and farmhouse experiments. Sure, some of their big barrel-aged beers head up toward 11 percent, but they also consistently feature low-alcohol options, from easy going patersbiers and brisk lagers to options like their current Pale Messiah, a pale ale with only 3.8 percent ABV, but still full of character from its Amarillo, Motueka, and Citra hops.
Embrace the apertivo. Spinasse’s sibling bar offers plenty of solid cocktail options, but Artusi’s happy hour is the ideal way to lighten up: apertivi like the Aperol spritz, Cynar Collins, and Americano are $6 each—all big on flavor and easy on your liver. And while you’re at it you can snag a lamb neck pie or some daily pasta because you should only cut back on one kind of sauce at a time. You can trust me; I’m not even remotely a doctor.
If you'd rather lean French, the aperitif-forward cocktails at the Central District’s L’Oursin are a fine way to do so. Try the Basque exit—amontillado, espelette, mezcal, and basque sidra—or the rose and amaro mashup, Girlfriend in Tacoma. Even the natural wines tend to be a little lighter than the 14 percent cabernets common in Washington. And if you must mocktail, they have five “Sans Alcool” options, including a virgin Campari soda and a salted celery cordial and tonic.