BTP’s Five Essential Seattle Bars

I called Seattle home for over a decade and whenever I return it’s hard not to think about moving back. With steady access to some of the best bars and bartenders in the country, it’s where I cut my teeth as a cocktail enthusiast, and where I began writing about drinks. I’m limited here to listing only five essential bars, so it’s inevitable that some very worthy players are going to have to sit the bench, and for that I offer all apologies. With that said, here’s my starting line-up. —Brad Thomas Parsons

  • 1

    Barnacle

    Looking at a two-hour wait for a seat at the oyster bar at The Walrus and the Carpenter next door? No worries. In the narrow annex just a few steps away you'll find a copper-topped bar with just over a dozen stools where you'll be rewarded for your patience with the most extensive amari lists in the city. A small chalkboard menu offers austere, chilled and room temperature bar bites like anchovies with Calabrian chili butter and octopus terrine, making Barnacle a worthy dining destination unto itself.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • amaro
    • bar food
    • good wine
    • happy hour
  • 2

    Canon

    With the launch of his award-winning bar Canon, Jamie Boudreau set a new standard of service in Seattle's already thriving cocktail scene. Once you've secured a seat at the Angostura bitters-stained bar prepare to stick around with options like chilled Chartreuse on tap, hard-to-find whiskey, barrel-aged cocktails and carbonated and bottled boozy drinks. Still can't decide? Ask to see the 100-plus-paged Captain's List of rare and vintage spirits and take a dip into the "Hardcore Porn" section for triple-digit tastes of Chartreuse through the decades or a circa-1890 sip of Amer Picon at $950 a pour.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • lots of whiskey
    • lots of tequila / mezcal
    • lots of rum
    • Chartreuse
    • full menu
    • outdoor / patio
  • 3

    Liberty

    Tucked away on Capitol Hill, Liberty remains an industry favorite since opening in 2006 (and they haven't closed a single day since they opened their doors). Equal parts coffee bar, cocktail bar and sushi bar (yes, sushi), their spirits list runs deep with special attention to scotch and Japanese whiskey. Owner Andrew Friedman, President and VP Emeritus of the Washington State Bartender's Guild, spearheads the continuing education of Seattle bartenders and cocktail geeks by hosting master classes from visiting distillers and spirits world VIPs.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • lots of whiskey
    • lots of tequila / mezcal
    • full menu
    • happy hour
  • 4

    Palace Kitchen

    The neon sign at the Palace Kitchen, forever blinking "Cocktails" under the shadow of the passing Monorail, calls out like a beacon as powerful as the green light on Daisy Buchanan's dock. The tiled horseshoe bar (adorned with complimentary bowls of pistachios) dominates the room, stretching the length of the restaurant from the front door to the open kitchen, where the brigade, decked out in navy blue mechanic's jumpsuits, tend to the live-fire grill. Order anything that comes off the applewood grill—whole trout, rotisserie chicken, hanger steak—or make a meal of bar appetizers like crispy fried pig tails, goat ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • full menu
    • craft beer
    • happy hour
    • late night
  • 5

    Rob Roy

    It's not just the free Goldfish crackers on the bar at Happy Hour that keep the crowds coming back to Anu Apte's Rob Roy—it's the entire vibe of this bewitching Belltown bar. Attracting a mixed crowd of downtown bar crawlers, baseball-cap-sporting beer-and-shot dudes and serious cocktail geeks, it's one of the coziest, clubbiest rooms in town. Even better is that it's decked out like a late-1970s rec room, with an inspiration board of leather, stone and dark wood. The vibe even extends to the restrooms, where citrus wheels and piles of ice fill the urinals and the graffiti on the wall might include a recipe for an ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • full menu
    • happy hour
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