Despite being an East Coast transplant who lives and breathes New York City, I still find myself missing the West Coast at the most unexpected times. Sometimes, it’s those San Diego beach photos I see on Instagram during an especially vicious blizzard. Other times, it’s the thought of open spaces and towering California redwoods when I look up at silver Manhattan skyscrapers. But lately, I’ve been missing another West Coast city: Seattle.
Seattle has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. It may have had something to do with watching that particular Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks movie as a teen (I used to daydream about spending Valentine’s Day dining at the Space Needle). Or maybe it was because my sister-in-law, Rachel, had lived there for years, and her verdant, tranquil photos of the Pacific Northwest were giving me a major case of FOMO.
But whatever the reason, I finally made it over to the Emerald City back in September 2016. What I found was not only those amazing open spaces, but a bar scene that’s a cut above elsewhere.
Here’s a round up of my favorite places to drink in Seattle right now.
1. Pike Brewing Co.
1415 1st Avenue, Seattle, WA
Open daily, 11:00 AM to midnight
Almost immediately after dropping my bags off at my Airbnb (which was amazing, by the way), my growling stomach led me outside and smack dab into this spot in Pike Place Market. Pike Brewing, which opened in 1989, was already on my to-do list from a historical standpoint, as co-founder Charles Finkel is pretty legendary in the American beer scene.
I arrived during “hoppy hour,” which runs Monday to Friday from 4-6 PM, so I ordered the Southern grilled rockfish tacos for $7 (normally $16). When in the Pacific Northwest, order seafood, am I right?
But we’re not really here to talk about the food, now, are we? Let’s get to the beer.
Despite being a huge IPA fan, I couldn’t decide on what to order, so I wound up choosing a tasting flight instead. I find flights to be a great way to sample a little bit of everything that’s going on at a particular place, and this flight was no exception.
Of the six beers I tried, I liked the Pike IPA (surprise!) and the Pike Pale Ale the best. The Pike Kilt Lifter, which was brewed with a small amount of peated Scotch whiskey malt, also had some interesting flavors that I hadn’t seen much of before.
Perhaps the best part of my experience at Pike Brewing was sitting at the counter with like-minded beer aficionados. Everyone present was friendly, talkative, and passionate about which Pike beers they loved (go Pike IPA!), which made for a great time for all.
928 12th Ave, Seattle, WA
Open daily from 5:00 PM to 2:00 AM
Canon is a serious holy grail for cocktail connoisseurs, and it definitely didn’t disappoint when Marissa from Postcards to Seattle and I met up there for drinks in September.
I was absolutely blown away by the presentation and care that staff took to create each and every cocktail. The last time I’d seen something of this caliber was about two years ago, when Mr. Five O’Clock and I visited The Aviary in Chicago. Both cocktail bars held my rapt attention from the moment I walked in to the moment I walked out.
For our initial round of drinks, we ordered the first two that caught our eye. The aptly-named Bright Idea cocktail was served in a lightbulb and contained a refreshing mix of tequila, watermelon, pomegranate, fresh lemon, and Racer 5 IPA. It was perfect for the final days of summer weather in Seattle.
The Khaleesi Cocktail, on the other hand, involved a whole show (I won’t spoil it for you, but suffice it to say that there’s a skull involved). This was more my jam, with Canon High West Rye, bourbon, Punt e Mes, strawberry, tonka bean, and “dragon’s blood smoke.”
After waffling back and forth on what else to order, I finally caved and went with the Magic: The Gathering cocktail. Not only did it contain gin, Dimmi Italian liqueur, orange, cava, and butterfly pea flower, but the menu actually listed “magic” as an ingredient. No joke.
And it did seem like magic was involved somehow, because as I watched our mixologist turn our drink upside down, nothing. spilled. out. What the @#$!?? What is this sorcery?
Alas, like those long-running, irritating Tootsie pop commercials, the world may never know. For now, I’m happy to just sip my drink, thank you very much.
3. Rachel’s Ginger Beer
1530 Post Alley, Seattle, WA (see website for other locations)
Open Sundays to Thursdays from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM and Fridays & Saturdays from 10:00 AM to 10 PM
Rachel’s Ginger Beer was originally recommended to me by–you guessed it–former Seattleite Rachel. It was easy enough to swing by this place, since I was already in Pike Place Market for lunch, so I decided to give it a go.
They had me at “Storm Clouds.” As you can tell from the menu pictured below, Rachel’s Ginger Beer (RGB) serves some cocktails that feature their ginger beer, in addition to non-alcoholic drinks and soft serve ice cream. Given that the Dark ‘n’ Stormy is one of my favorite drinks of all time, I was in complete and utter heaven here.
RGB’s riff on the Dark ‘n’ Stormy featured their own ginger beer, which give the drink an extra kick. There was something sublime about their ginger beer–it tasted fresher and stronger than other ginger beers I’ve had. RGB produces a whole host of flavors, like white peach and cucumber tarragon, so you can get creative when you mix your own cocktails at home, too!
4. Cloudburst Brewing
2116 Western Avenue, Seattle, WA
Open Wednesdays to Fridays from 2:00 PM to 10:00 PM; Saturdays from noon to 10:00 PM; Sundays from noon to 8:00 PM. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
Finding Cloudburst Brewing turned out to be a happy accident. Having finished lunch at Piroshky Piroshky, I decided to kill some time by walking around Pike Place Market. I opened my trusty Yelp app to search for things to do close to me, and up popped Cloudburst Brewing. It opens in 5 minutes, I thought. Why not?
Sidling up to the counter, I struggled with what to order. Fortunately, some of the locals took pity on me and, upon finding out that I was a travel blogger, insisted that I try some of their beer flight to get a more “well-rounded” picture of what Cloudburst was all about. (They were especially incredulous that I had stumbled upon the place by accident, since I didn’t realize that Cloudburst was the most anticipated brewery opening in Seattle of 2016.)
I love hoppy beers, so the Glitter Pop IPA was right up my alley. I also loved the Wet Hop Indian Summer beer and, surprisingly, Happy Little Clouds, a dry-hopped pilsner. At the time I was there in September, a 10-ounce pour was $5 and most 16-ounce pours were going for $6. I walked out of Cloudburst agreeing that, for once, the hype surrounding a place was actually warranted.
5. Fremont Brewing
1050 N 34th St, Seattle, WA (Urban Beer Garden; see website for other locations)
Open daily from 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM
Prior to my Seattle trip, nearly every friend I asked for tips said two words: Fremont Brewing. Founded in 2009, Fremont Brewing focuses on local ingredients and sustainability. In fact, they’re serious about reducing their carbon footprint; they’ve even won awards that back up their claims.
I decided to order a tasting flight, which, of course, turned out to be delicious. As I sat down and sipped my porter, however, I couldn’t help overhearing that the couple across from me was on their first date. Turns out it didn’t go so well, because she left without warning after making an uncomfortable face, and he left five minutes later.
But me? I was more concerned about the sheer amount of craft beer they left behind. I mean, look at this. If this isn’t a beer-mergency, then I don’t know what is.
Spoiler alert: I didn’t drink it. Because even I’m not that desperate. But suffice it to say that everyone else in the near vicinity was gulping down their beer, murmuring things like “Mmmmm” and “I need to get another.” Enough said.
Honorable Mention: Perhaps unsurprisingly, this post turned out to be slanted toward craft beer. If you’re looking for additional breweries to check out in Seattle, the people I spoke to at these breweries suggested Elysian Brewing Company, Stoup Brewing, and Reuben’s Brews. If you’re more into craft cocktails, check out Zig Zag Cafe, Rob Roy, Knee High Stocking Company, and Liberty.
Did you like this post? Pin it! ↓↓
(As usual, all costs were paid by me, and all opinions are my own.)
Where do you like to drink in Seattle? Sound off in the comments below!