Libation Listicle

5 Essential Seattle Bars

Think Seattle is all Rainier and aquavit? Well, maybe—but we're home to craft beer and destination cocktails too.

By Seattle Met Staff September 21, 2018 Published in the Newcomer's Guide 2018 issue of Seattle Met

Canon’s Studio 54 cocktail combines rum, falernum, lime, cherry cola, and an “acid tab.”



Local barman Jamie Boudreau had long planned to open his own place, and when Canon arrived, the reality somehow exceeded the ridiculously high expectations. Seattle has a score of cool cocktail bars; why is this one such a damn big deal? Maybe because it encapsulates everything that’s good about our local drink scene (a crazy array of spirits, inventive bartenders) and very little of the bad (okay, it can be damn hard to get a seat sometimes).

Chuck's Hop Shop


Both Chuck’s locations became neighborhood institutions pretty much the minute they opened, magical utopias where dogs, babies, parents, and twentysomethings in crocheted beanies coexist harmoniously around mismatched tables. The source of all this bonhomie: dozens of taps of craft beer, plus a vast wall of coolers full of bottles and cans, and even a food truck parked out front.

The Pine Box


Sometimes the creepiness is more narrative than atmospheric, but if you know the story behind the Pine Box—a former mortuary, that hosted Bruce Lee’s funeral in 1973—even the chic old-world austerity here takes on a sepulchral vibe. Never fear: 33 meticulously culled taps offer plenty of beer to take the edge off even a bone-deep shudder.

Rob Roy


Spirit trends and ice preferences come and go, but local cocktail doyenne Anu Elford keeps this bachelor pad–styled bar in Belltown an understated bastion of terrific drinks. Classic cocktails are on point, the town’s most accomplished bartenders sling house creations both smart and tasty, but the secret to Rob Roy’s longevity might be its unwavering commitment to hospitality. Either that or the free goldfish crackers at happy hour.

Zig Zag Cafe


Much of the lore surrounding the cocktail bar on the Pike Hillclimb surrounds two events: Barman Murray Stenson rediscovering the Last Word, an unlikely green drink created by a vaudeville singer in Detroit in the 1920s, that helped vault our city into the national craft cocktail renaissance, and Stenson winning “Best Bartender in America” at the annual Tales of the Cocktail industry confab. Stenson has moved on, but Zig Zag is still every bit a cocktail destination in the post-Murray era, thanks to a cadre of bartenders who bring levity to the very serious business of knowing how you like your drink.

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