The speakeasy trend has had its moment, and yet cocktail aficionados still do well to duck into the alley behind Second Avenue. There, a boiler room–turned–bilevel hideout serves cocktails wrought with care and a hot toddy approaching local legend status. These days the smallest of signs out front helps guide the way.
Local barman Jamie Boudreau had long planned to open his own place, and when Canon arrived, the reality somehow exceeded the ridiculously high expectations. Since then, he’s only burnished its reputation with an ever-growing catalog of rare and vintage spirits, and cocktails whose playful delivery systems (miniature bathtubs, faux IV bags) belie their clever flavors. Canon’s interior may be all dark wood and glowing bottles, but the secluded, covered back patio is the ideal spot for a sparkling negroni.
Hazlewood’s the kind of bar that feels dark and moody, so it’s fitting that the hot toddy is in-freaking-credible. If you’re lucky it’s served to you by co-owner Keith Bartoloni, who will tell you in a heavy Boston accent that it’s “like drinking Christmas,” thanks to the pimento dram, a Jamaican liqueur Bartoloni makes with dark rum, brown sugar, and allspice berries, then ages for a month. This is a hot slug of good cheer and, if you feel a head cold coming on, more restorative than Sudafed (the good kind, with pseudoephedrine). Those glasses get mighty hot, so the toddy comes buffered with a knitted drink sleeve that might sport googly eyes, ribbon, or the name of a classic B movie.
There’s hardly a sign here, so you have to be in the know for this Olive Way speakeasy’s happy hour. Ring the bell and hope this place isn’t full up. Happy hour is every weeknight from 5 to 7pm, where you can order beers or ginger beer cocktails, like a Moscow mule or dark and stormy. The specials change frequently, but the Apriscotch with Famous Grouse scotch, apricot liqueur, honey, orange bitters, and lemon is a frequent favorite.
The speakeasy-style bar specializes in scads of pre-Prohibition and Prohibition-era drinks and a stuffed Monte Cristo of sliced pork shoulder with maple and smoked olive oil, cooked sous vide for seven hours. It’s hardly a secret, but there’s an upstairs room called Needle and Thread, where if you make the right call from the phone by the entrance, you might nab an open bar stool.
A good conversation bar is a rare and wonderful thing, especially on Belltown’s Second Ave. But one of the neighborhood’s newest wine and cocktail haunts, Mr. Darcy’s, is just that. In keeping with it’s Jane Austen moniker, a genteel literary mood gently infuses the space: gold-lettering on the windows, a decorative (presumably) phonograph and piano, an antique clock, lots of woodwork, a shelf of books.
Rob Roy is a James Bond–style bachelor pad that offers imbibers a library of unique drinks. But for the month December expect the decor to be less shaken-not-stirred martini and more spice apple cider with sherry and rye served in a Santa mug—yup, the Miracle on 2nd holiday bar popup is back.
Whiskey expert Andrew Friedman sold his little lounge on 15th Avenue to talented Liberty bar vets, but fear not, the new owners have kept the cocktail menu sharp and the sushi reliably great. The cozy drinking den serves both as a fitting place to begin the evening as it does a place to end, and in either case well-crafted drinks and fresh rolls abound.
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 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.