Classic Manhattans, flavorful shrubs, fruity rum punches and herbaceous gins. When it comes to first-rate beverages, the Emerald City has them in spades. Why, then, does the city’s coffee scene receive all the attention? With a slew of local bartenders utilizing groundbreaking creativity and out-and-out whimsy in their approach to drink menus, the city’s cocktail scene deserves its fair share of the limelight. Whether you’re out with friends or looking for an intimate date night, discover Seattle’s long-time staples and new favorites with our insider’s guide to the best cocktail bars in the city.

Knee High Stocking Co.

Relive the Roaring Twenties with a visit to Knee High Stocking Co. Credit: Joe Holdsworth Photography

Honoring the Prohibition-age tradition of being hidden in plain sight, finding the entrance of Capitol Hill’s Knee High Stocking Co. is half the fun. One step inside the subterranean space and you’re transported to another era. Between the rich baroque wallpaper, ornate chandeliers and tufted black leather booths, this intimate spot perfectly recreates the 1920s vibe. Alongside their extensive spirit selection, you’ll find a frequently-rotating craft cocktail list.

Altitude Sky Lounge

Pair great company and unmatched scenery at Altitude Sky Lounge. Credit: Altitude Sky Lounge
Pair great company and unmatched scenery at Altitude Sky Lounge. Credit: Altitude Sky Lounge

Perched 16 stories above Seattle, Altitude Sky Lounge is a cozy and exquisite new rooftop bar, perfect to cap off your evening. Enjoy light bites while you sip a Solartini with hints of elderflower and mint by the fire and take in the stellar views of the bustling city. As a new Seattle hot spot – reservations are recommended though not required.

Plan in advance or try your luck at a spontaneous evening out with their first come, first serve seating. (Insider tip – plan your visit around sunset for an unmatched evening ambiance.)

Deep Dive 

Ambiance is the name of the game at downtown’s Deep Dive. Credit: Haris Kenjar

Helmed by local culinary superstar Renee Erickson, a visit to nautical-themed Deep Dive is an immersive experience. From the antique maritime treasures on display in every nook and cranny to the marine blue velvet coating the seats and plush booths, the space perfectly evokes an undersea vibe without tipping into “theme bar” territory. Settle into a cozy corner and sip on one of their unique cocktails like the fruit-forward Chill Pill or an effervescent Rope Climb.

Bar Director Jermaine Whitehead says of their drink menu, “We aim to pay homage to the traditions of the Manhattan and the Old Fashioned, but also incorporate the modern classics such as the Trinidad Sour or the Penicillin.”

Whitehead adds, “We also provide our guests with house originals that are inspired by the region. For example, we highlight the Nordic backgrounds of Ballard by using Aquavit as a main ingredient in our Mixtape cocktail. The spirit is infused with strawberries and includes Ancho Reyes Chipotle Liqueur, local Scrappy’s cardamom bitters, egg white and citrus.”

The George

Sip in style at The George Restaurant and Bar. Credit: Fairmont Olympic Hotel
Sip in style at The George Restaurant and Bar. Credit: Fairmont Olympic Hotel

New to the Fairmont Olympic Hotel, The George, a modern brasserie, offers more than just the perfect place to snap a new photo. With incredible interiors landing the Fairmont Seattle, the title of Interior Design of the Year from LIV Hospitality Design Awards, stay a little or stay a while.

Converse over local spirits and Northwestern winemakers and indulge in food to pair flourishing with PNW flavors.

Bathtub Gin & Co.

The inconspicuous entrance to Bathtub Gin & Co., tucked away in a Belltown alley. Credit: Kirk Yoder

With an address that includes the phrase, “look for the wooden door,” Belltown’s Bathtub Gin & Co. completely embodies their speakeasy-style concept. The ten-year-old bar serves up skillfully-executed cocktails with compelling ingredients in a cozy space that once housed a boiler room. Try the bourbon-focused Death Star, featuring fig and maple syrup, or the playfully named If It Ain’t Broke, finished with a dash of lavender bitters.


It's not every day you see a spirit collection so extensive that a ladder is in use! Credit: Canon
It’s not every day you see a spirit collection so extensive that a ladder is in use! Credit: Canon

As soon as you set foot inside Capitol Hill’s Canon, you can literally see their dedication to the craft of cocktail creation. Glimmering bottles line nearly every available inch of wall space, fitting décor for a bar that’s won the title of World’s Best Spirits Selection! Despite Canon’s lofty accolades, their menu is anything but stuffy. Sample their cocktails with whimsical presentations, such as the Transfusion for Two served in an IV bag or a Banksy Sour poured out of a cocktail shaker masquerading as a can of spray paint.

Proprietor Jamie Boudreau says of Canon’s mission, “We’re looking to give people a unique experience by offering some of the world’s more complex cocktails surrounded by one of the world’s largest collection of spirits (including the largest collection of American whiskey in the world), all in the unusual setting of a 450 square foot, six-table restaurant.”


Get your mid-winter tropical fix with a trip to Rumba. Credit: Dave Lichterman

As the name suggests, Capitol Hill’s Rumba knows its way around a mean rum cocktail. Whether you opt for a classic Daquiri (a favorite of Ernest Hemingway, whose books are on display throughout the bar) or a tiki-style Tropical Itch, you’ll feel transported out of the gray PNW and onto a breezy, sandy beach.

Amble up to the polished wood bar for a guided flight of rum or request a Rum Map to taste your way across the Caribbean through 60 rums of your choosing! A Caribbean-inspired menu, more than 700 sugar cane spirits, and 1950s-era Cuban décor round out Rumba’s Island atmosphere.

Dreamland Bar and Diner 

Be transported to dreamlike state at Dreamland Bar and Diner. Credit: Visit Carnelian Bay
Be transported to dreamlike state at Dreamland Bar and Diner. Credit: Visit Carnelian Bay

From drag brunches to DJs to disco balls and all, Dreamland Bar and Diner lands on our list as a cocktail experience to remember. Nestled in the Fremont neighborhood with a sprinkle of strangeness among the colorful interior, this fun and groovy bar pairs excellent cocktails with delicious bites and is known to have an incredible and knowledgeable staff. Savoring the season of Fall? Try out their Dreamland Apple Cider Old Fashioned.

Zig Zag Café

One of Zig Zag’s skillful bartenders shakes up his newest creation. Credit: Flickr user heelslide

A sultry, red-tinged light beckons you into Pike Place’s tucked-away treasure, Zig Zag Café. The spot that put Seattle’s cocktail scene back on the map in the early aughts hasn’t lost any steam when it comes to serving up tasty, balanced drinks. Choose from a lengthy list of beverage options (the peaty Smoking Goat is an excellent choice) or consult one of the knowledgeable bartenders to guide your selection. Grab a seat at the bar to toast your ascension up the Pike Street Hill Climb or settle into one of their candlelit tables for the perfect downtown date night.

Percy’s & Co.

Plant-lined brick walls and brass accents complete the atmosphere at Percy’s & Co. Credit: Suzi Pratt

Though there are plenty of worthy happy hour destinations in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood (which was once home to more bars than any town west of the Mississippi, per the bar’s website), you’re unlikely to find a spot with a more appealing atmosphere than Percy’s & Co.

The space itself dates back to 1893, and in the intervening years, it’s served as a dry goods store, a menswear store, and a rumored speakeasy. In 1940 it was turned into a bar, and never looked back! With lush foliage nearly everywhere you turn, it’s a fitting environment to sip on one of their herbaceous cocktails like Simone’s Love, enlivened with aromatic dill-infused vodka.

Bar Director Bode Craig adds, “All of our signature cocktails are made with infusions that I make in house, as well as a large amount of bitters and tinctures. The infusion process is not only fun for me, but really opens the guest’s eyes to what herbs/vegetables/fruits mix with different spirits and juices. It’s almost like a culinary class!”

Founders Club

Snag a reservation and step into Founders Club's intimate Lounge. Credit: Founder Club
Snag a reservation and step into Founders Club’s intimate lounge. Credit: Founders Club

Defined by deep rich wood tones and polished brass, step into this serene and secluded social club. With a 1920’s speakeasy ambiance and an exquisite spirit collection hand selected by their award-winning beverage Curator, the Founders Club is the exclusive Seattle experience. Browse an aged and limited-edition spirit menu encouraging exploration and flirt with flavors ignited by curiosity.

Geek out on a variety of flavor profiles with some of the best spirit brands in the world and let their master bartenders create a custom cocktail suited to your liking.

Whether you’re looking for a straightforward Prohibition-era classic or have your heart set on sipping a drink straight out of a pineapple, Seattle has a bar to fit the bill. Perhaps one day, cocktails will unseat coffee as the city’s reigning beverage! After a few happy hours at these spots, it isn’t so hard to imagine.



Feature image: courtesy of Canon