There’s some truth to the soggy cliché that it’s always raining in Seattle. While the city’s landscape does sparkle with blues from the Puget Sound, pops with lush greenery and benefits from killer mountain views (when the “mountains are out”), those misty, overcast days add up, and often inspire locals to seek out indoor pursuits. In fact, weather is arguably a driving force behind the popularity of Seattle’s bookstores, film festivals, coffee shops, restaurants and, yes, bars.
The city is home to some of the best watering holes in the country—from dive bars to craft cocktail bars—as well as a growing number of homegrown businesses specializing in the production of everything from beer to bitters. Washington State’s wine industry continues to make its mark on the city (and the country), while the local craft-distilling scene booms with businesses like OOLA, Sound Spirits and Sun Liquor Distillery. Local breweries and craft beers also abound, from Pyramid to Hales to Manny’s. And beyond wine, beer and spirits, there’s a bubbling artisanal soda scene with Rachel’s Ginger Beer, DRY Soda and Seattle Seltzer Co. leading the way.
What makes Seattle’s drinking culture unique is its well-worn, high-low vibe—the sort that sees no conflict between a Rainier tall-boy and a barrel-aged Hanky Panky. It finds equal opportunity to love a dark, dingy dive as it does a sprightly new amari bar. This diplomatic sensibility also permeates the growing wine scene, which mixes an allegiance to the wines of Washington with a genuine hunger for the farther-flung.
The same love for all things local finds its way into kitchens and, likewise, behind bars, where the Pacific Northwest’s magnificent seasonal produce is woven into shrubs, syrups, bitters and culinary-minded cocktails that each have a special way of bringing the outdoors to Seattle’s great indoors. –Brad Thomas Parsons