The Seattle Bar Hit List: Where To Drink Right Now guide image

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The Seattle Bar Hit List: Where To Drink Right Now

The best new bars in Seattle.

In order to help you figure out which new restaurants are worth going to, we created The Hit List, our guide to recently-opened spots that are actually worth your time and money. We actually get off our asses and scope these places out—just because a place is new, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily good.

And now, we’re doing the same for bars. From hidden speakeasies to bars with really good alcoholic slushies, check out the Bar Hit List below.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Benbow Room

The Admiral Benbow Room imageoverride image

The Admiral Benbow Room

Perfect For:Big GroupsDancing

$$$$

4210 SW Admiral Way Suite A, Seattle
Earn 3X Points

The Admiral Benbow Room is the closest thing you'll get to drinking rum on a pirate ship. With a dark space covered in barrels, projectors playing murky underwater b-roll, and a giant skeleton sculpture, it's a whole mood that will probably make you want to watch the 2003 live-action Peter Pan the second you get home. As for the rum, find it in great cocktails like a slushy coco locos or frozen strawberry daiquiris, or in mixed drinks featuring other ingredients like honey, orange bitters, passionfruit, and pineapple. Things are relatively relaxed earlier in the night (or, rather, as relaxed as a pirate ship-themed bar can possibly be), but as it gets later, this place turns into a total party, complete with loud music and a spinning disco ball.

This Columbia City aperitivo bar and bottle shop is owned by next-door Italian restaurant La Medusa, and while it seems logical to grab a drink with your date here while waiting for your dinner table, we encourage you to stick around for amari and snacks. Persephone’s space is effortlessly cozy, decorated with string lights, a lot of happy green plants, and wacky labels from shelves of natural wine bottles. Grab a seat and get acquainted with a bitter red spritz you’ll choose from the huge chalkboard selection of amari and an all-star lineup of fried food like crispy fish meatballs, saffron arancini, or the incredible chickpea panelle sandwich with mayo and lemon on a toasted sesame roll. If you’re not into the bitter herbal stuff, don’t let the Campari scare you away—you can always order a glass of prosecco.


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While everyone at Phở Bắc’s newest Downtown location is slurping phở under stark fluorescent lighting, there’s a speakeasy upstairs where you should head post-soup. Phởcific Standard Time serves phenomenal cocktails with Vietnamese twists at a small four-sided counter, and you should plan your weekends around making a visit. We love every last one of these drinks, from the Dua Dừa featuring rum, absinthe, coconut milk, lime, and basil seed to our current favorite cocktail in Seattle: the Cà Phê Tini, an iced coffee-inspired martini with Mr. Black cold brew liqueur, vodka, Vietnamese coffee, condensed milk, and pandan dust. While the cocktails are PST’s clear highlight, it would be a shame to come here and not also grab bar snacks like spicy tapioca dumplings, bánh mì, or cheesy caramelized crab and prawn dip complete with oiled toasts and sesame saltines for dunking.

Tio Baby’s is a Tex-Mex bar in Fremont that serves precisely the kind of snacks you’d want while drinking beers or margaritas. We’re talking about things like waffle fries, creative hot dogs, wings, a McRib-style sandwich sticky with bourbon BBQ sauce and mustard seed aioli, and some of the best nachos in town, thanks to the application of both melted cheese and velvety queso. And on weekends, things get a little experimental, when specials pop up like cheeseburger dumplings or fried calabrian chile-marinated cheese curd rangoons. Between the cozy wooden booths, colorful murals, and framed portrait of Danny DeVito as Ongo Gablogian behind the bar, Tio Baby’s is an effortlessly fun space where you can hang out and spend a few hours.


Keep Good Voyage in your rolodex of date spots for when you want to appear impressive without trying too hard. This market and natural wine bar right next to Left Bank (and from the same team) is complete with black walls, stark white subway tile, bistro tables inside and out, dried flower buds hanging from the ceiling, and groovy music. Essentially, you really could use it for anything from a relaxed friend catch-up to a high-stakes first date. While the space is what makes the South Park spot so versatile, it also doesn't hurt that they’re an espresso counter by day. Meet up in the morning for a pastry and latte or grab a round of pét-nat at 8pm alongside baguette sandwiches or a handful of marcona almonds.


Ronette's Psychedelic Sock Hop is permanently closed

Ronette's Psychedelic Sock Hop review image
7.2

Ronette's Psychedelic Sock Hop

Ronette’s Psychedelic Sock Hop is not a space-galaxy movie musical set in the '50s. It is, however, a colorful, dog-friendly dive bar on Leary Way complete with neon lights, checkerboard tile, occasional live music or dance parties, a great natural wine list, and watermelon slushies spiked with Midori. You might expect a place like this to serve things like battered cheese curds and mushroom swiss burgers, but instead, you can order bowls of fresh pasta and miso sesame caesar salads via counter service. 


If you take a shuttered Beacon Hill travel agency, slap up some bricks and art deco bird-patterned wallpaper, and fill it with bottles of champagne, you get The Coupe & Flute. This funky little bistro is the best spot in town for sparkling wine, whether you casually enjoy bubbles or your phone’s lock screen is currently the French countryside. Come here for brunch or on a late afternoon to sip fizzy wine alongside snacks like battered prawns tossed in tamarind BBQ sauce, pomme frites with Sichuan chili mayo, and gnocchi with green pea pesto. It’s all served without any pretentiousness—the staff won’t assume you’re a total newbie, but they also won’t completely leave you on your own to navigate the world of carbonated grape juice. And with other drinks like spritzes, non-alcoholic aperitifs, and bottles of white, red, and rosé, you don’t have to be champagne-obsessed to appreciate a night out here.


If you’re looking for a serotonin rush without having to snuggle a puppy, just spend some hours out on Dreamland Bar & Diner’s balcony patio, a.k.a. Carnelian Bay. The whimsical space-galaxy-jungle-grotto surroundings make this bar feel like a hazy movie mashup of Jurassic Park, Alien, and Xanadu in the best way possible. There are $99 large-batch margaritas served in disco balls alongside salty pucker powder-rimmed glasses, frozen grasshopper slushies, and Jell-O shots that taste like homemade jam straight from the jar. To go with the drinks, you’ll find some of the best bar snacks in the city—like vegetarian chicken strip baskets, pimento cheese slathered on fried saltines, and a gooey Happy Hour steamed burger that can do no wrong. Very much like the title track of Xanadu.


This Queen Anne spot is a winner if you want to be in the middle of the action at a bar instead of in a secluded corner. The space is small, the seating is a little squishy, and yet, the energy is just right for an exciting night out, even on a weekday. Their drinks range from wine to a gin and tonic with apricot liqueur and homemade mushroom and rhubarb tonic, and they serve plates like lobster rolls, pan con tomate, and tandoori eggplant—though we endorse getting a plate of charred escabeche with toasted sourdough and really good cultured butter.


photo credit: Chona Kasinger

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Bar Sabine

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Ballard is a great neighborhood for outdoor drinking, but most of the spots on the main drag cram their patios along the sidewalk. Not Bar Sabine’s. They have an entire alleyway complete with a bunch of tables, space heaters in case the temperature drops, and a floral wall mural. The cocktails (with themed drinks based on aspects of Studio Ghibli films) are complicated yet well-balanced, featuring fun ingredients like sandalwood, rhubarb Aperol, pistachio, strawberry red wine foam, and glitter. Sit out on the patio with some tasty Mediterranean mezze and appreciate your drink’s perfectly square ice cubes and rim of togarashi salt. If you’d rather sit inside, good luck not wanting to sign a lease and live here. There are massive paintings and chandeliers juxtaposed with the occasional disco ball, and the decor matches the serious-yet-fun nature of the cocktails really well.

If you’re looking for a wine bar that feels as loungey as a subdued neighborhood bookstore, come to Rae Vino. This Green Lake spot specializes in low-intervention options by the glass and bottle, serves small bites like chips and nuts, and hosts various tastings and/or live music performances. It’s perfect for bringing a date or friend to catch up among the shelves of bottles and comfortable living room furniture.

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