If you're feeling sleepless and you're in Seattle (sigh) then you're probably going to want to locate the nearest decent bar for a nightcap. There's no shortage of great pubs, clubs and bars in the Emerald City. Of course, seekers of fine cocktails will be eyeing more than a pint and a shot. Do you want a snazzy mixologist and a baffling list of exotic drinks, or would you rather a good Old Fashioned in comfy surroundings? You might be keen to know where best to sample Seattle's famous live music scene while you tipple, or where to delve head first into the city's thriving hipster scene. A great cocktail is about the atmosphere and the company, and Seattle's diverse night life means you'll have no problem finding the perfect cocktail in the perfect place. We've compiled a list of 5 of the best cocktail bars in Seattle, with a little something for every night owl.
Zig Zag cafe is a very hard to find but equally hard to pass up restaurant and cocktail bar near Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle. It's a prestigious cocktail bar, with highly trained mixologists and a creative approach to house cocktails; expect to find unexpectedly well matched combinations like absinthe alongside cognac. The place is full of old world charm from the velvet rope at the entrance to the polished mahogany bar and the impeccably dressed waiters. You'll feel like you're in an elite members-only club here, and your taste buds will be left zinging thanks to the creative drinks menu.
Rob Roy on 2nd avenue is an opulent, ‘60s style bar with just the right amount of plush leather to compel you to order a martini shaken, not stirred. But if you can avoid the clichés, you'll be rewarded by a much more adventurous cocktail list. The cocktails are a balanced menu of your old favorites and original concoctions, and the bartenders are well known mixologists so you can be confident that whichever drink you want – on or off the list – is probably within the realms of possibility. The small food menu is uninspired but nobody comes to Rob Roy for the eats. This is a classic cocktail bar through and through, with an ambience so dark and seductive that you'll be tempted to stay and sample a range of the creative drinks on offer.
Canon is an unpretentious, airy bar with an almost overwhelming array of inviting bottles lining the shelves behind the bar. It's rapidly gaining a reputation as one of the best bars in the city. The discreet drama of the bar's tastefully kitsch style makes for a novel, intimate cocktail experience (the Hanky Panky comes in a cute drinking flask). The Captain's List is one of the most exhaustive you'll ever see, and might be a little overwhelming to the less expert drinkers among us; while the cocktail list is an easier read. Bourbon, vermouth and bitters feature heavily among the perfectly balanced drinks, a testament to the bar's classic preferences. Reasonably priced, gourmet bar food makes Canon an all-round great bar experience.
Tavern Law on Capitol Hill is an endearing, speakeasy-style bar with a crew of bartenders who have gained the reputation as some of the best mixologists in America. The main bar, the Tavern, is usually bustling. If you have a reservation, though, you can use the phone on the wall to call up and gain entry to the more elite Needle and Thread. You can choose from the carefully compiled cocktail menu or, if it's not too busy, tell the bar staff your favorite flavours and watch them whip up a personalized cocktail just for you. Impressively dramatic mixology and an authentic old American vibe make the Tavern a must-try for cocktail aficionados in Seattle.
Seasonal ingredients form the basis for Knee High Stocking's eccentric cocktail list – the "Laura Palmer", for example, is an inexplicable combo of Earl Grey tea-infused Bombay dry gin with cola and lemon, while the "Love and Violets" sees Crème de Violette offset by cherry bitters and sparkling wine. With lively alternative music and a young, hip crowd Knee High Stocking Company is more of a trendy, modern take on the retro speakeasy style, and best suited for those looking for a less intimate, more laid back cocktail experience. Remember to make a reservation, as it's notoriously difficult to nab a seat here without calling in advance.