The Best Seattle Bars For Your BirthdayIt’s your party and you can cry if you want to. But if you go to one of these bars, hopefully you won’t.
Hosting a birthday celebration can be stressful, especially if it’s at your place. You’re stuck shaking cocktails, refilling the bowl of pita chips, and worrying about getting noise complaints from the neighbors. You’re supposed to enjoy your birthday. Or at least quickly get it over with. Here’s an idea: Go to a bar instead.
Whether you want some casual daytime beers with your entire social circle, a few rounds of brightly-colored drinks in close proximity to arcade games, or fancy cocktails with a small group of your very closest friends, we have the bar for every scenario.
We can help with your birthday dinners, too—check out the best Seattle restaurants for birthdays here.
Every great bar on Capitol Hill was practically designed for birthdays, so it’s no surprise that Unicorn is on this list. Make plans for a night of arcade games fueled by sugary cocktails with ingredients like bubblegum vodka, blue raspberry vodka, watermelon liqueur, and Sprite (that’s the Americorn). The best part of a birthday here is getting forced to wear the “the hat,” a.k.a. a bedazzled baseball helmet with a two-foot-long horn hot-glued to it.
For something just as fun but less rowdy than Unicorn, check out New Luck Toy in West Seattle. The dark space is full of paper lanterns and golden cat ornaments, and there’s a pinball machine, a private karaoke room that looks like a woodland sprite’s grotto, and skee-ball. The cocktails are excellent across the board, whether you go for a frozen prickly pear margarita or an on-tap mai tai. And if you’re hungry after belting out some “Total Eclipse Of The Heart,” know that the Chinese food—like General Tso’s chicken, shrimp and pork fat dumplings, and salt-and-pepper spare ribs—is f*cking delicious.
A birthday at The Octopus Bar is like the adult version of a second-grade, pirate-themed party. But instead of corny plates from Party City, mylar balloons in the shape of treasure chests, and a parrot cake that says, “Ay, it’s me matey’s birthday,” there’s a big wooden bar, a bunch of hanging ropes and fishnets, and lots of cocktails. When it’s cold, hole up around a big table with whisky mules, and during the warmer months, take advantage of their patio with a round of Octopus Bubbly (vodka, blackberry liqueur, and champagne). Food-wise, you anything involving their homemade spicy queso, be it molten cheese-coated tater tots or alongside a buttery pretzel.
Rhein Haus is the biergarten your college self would have been obsessed with, and there are plenty of reasons to make it your birthday HQ: massive tables, a patio for the warmer months, solid bar snacks (like chicken schnitzel sliders, homemade pretzels the size of your head, beer cheese, and mini brat rolls), and a bocce court where you can ruin the friendships you’ve worked so hard to nurture. Enjoy it all with drinks that range from frosé to liter-sized boots of German beer.
If you’d like your friends to acknowledge your birth by way of hollowed-out disco balls filled with pink margaritas, vegan chicken tenders with ranch, and a fountain in the shape of a lion’s head billowing with fog, Dreamland should be your place. It’s easy to make a reservation online for a bunch of your favorite people, then all that’s left to do is enjoy the feel-good playlists, replica jungle cats, boozy slushies, and steamburgers while toasting to your fleeting youth.
If you're out in Ballard, it’s hard to choose a better spot for an energy-packed night out in the neighborhood than Bar Sabine. The cocktails are complicated and well-balanced, featuring fun ingredients like sandalwood, rhubarb Aperol, pistachio, strawberry red wine foam, and glitter. The space is fun too—their patio is an entire alleyway complete with a bunch of tables, space heaters in case the temperature drops, and a floral wall mural. Inside, there are massive paintings and chandeliers juxtaposed with the occasional disco ball, and it matches the serious-yet-fun nature of the cocktails really well. Sit out here with some tasty Mediterranean mezze, like smoked eggplant dip with homemade spiced potato chips, and appreciate your drink’s perfectly square ice cubes and rim of togarashi salt.
When you want your surroundings to scream “bar” but you don’t actually want there to be any screaming, head to The Velvet Elk. This place is perfect for a low-key weeknight hang, because not all birthdays fall on a Saturday. There’s colorful black-lit wall art, excellent cocktails, comfortable living room furniture, and homemade corn dogs to go with your Old Fashioned. They even have some decks of cards if you want to challenge your friends to a game of Egyptian Rat Screw while you sip a couple of drinks.
Is it a birthday party if you’re not in a bar drinking rum-based zombie cocktails so strong there’s a limit of two per person? You can do this at Navy Strength, and if you’re not looking to actually turn into the undead, the tamer tropical cocktails (like kiwi banana sours and planter’s punch) are still great. The brightly-colored space is a perfect spot for a celebration, and little snacks like pinch buns and marinated ahi tuna go well with the drinks.
An arcade bar is always a great idea, and the best one in town is Add-A-Ball, complete with reasonably-priced beer and well cocktails that don’t taste like melted ice. We’ve had some of the best nights of our lives getting too emotionally invested in the four-player Pacman here, but there’s also a Killer Queen you should take advantage of, if you can figure out how to play it. Also important: on some Saturdays from 6-11pm, Good Shape, a pizza pop-up, is onsite serving phenomenal personal pizzas and cheeseburger pinwheels, two dishes practically designed for consumption while gaming (and during birthdays).
You’re an aging adult, and if that means that you only want to celebrate with champagne, grab a table at The Coupe & Flute. This Beacon Hill tavern is an ideal spot if you’re celebrating with family, or you want your party to involve something a little more sophisticated than arcade games and Rainier tallboys. That said, this art deco-wallpapered bubble bar is still a ton of fun, complete with cava sorbet floats and some of the best pomme frites in the city.
If hanging out while playing skee-ball, eating fried bites and burgers, and drinking watermelon vodka slushies doesn’t sound like an extremely fun birthday to you, keep scrolling. If it does, you can do all those things at King’s Hardware, one of our favorite classic Ballard bars. And if it’s nice out, you’re going to want to hit the back patio, where there’s more natural light and a separate bar.
Normally we wouldn’t send you to Rachel’s for your birthday drinking, but the Capitol Hill location is an exception. The space has a ton of plants and a colorful mural, the doors open up during the summer, and there’s plenty of seating and long tables. No matter what, go heavy on the spiked pink guava slushies or build your own mule with any of their homemade ginger beers in varieties like blood orange, passionfruit vanilla, and cucumber tarragon. Plus, friends who aren’t drinking can still have their pick of any ginger beer flavor.
Chuck’s Hop Shop is the ultimate come-and-go hangout that’s a cross between a 7-Eleven and your friend’s makeshift garage lounge. It’s a convenience store that has a great selection of beer on tap and long tables (inside and outside) to seat everyone you know. Check out the daily-rotating food truck outside, or grab a sack of kettle chips, some gummy worms, and a pint of Full Tilt ice cream to go with some beer. If you choose something from the refrigerator case, the staff will open the bottles or cans for you to drink in-house—so all you have to worry about is which board game to play.
Most of the speakeasies in town are difficult to get into if you have a group, except this one in the basement of Temple Billiards. The Pharmacy is an exciting space that looks like somebody ransacked a garage sale in the late 1970s to furnish this place with sofas, coffee tables, and mismatched decorative pillows, but it somehow all works. The cocktail menu is massive, ranging from tiki drinks to various riffs on a French 75, and the bartenders will happily make you something custom on the spot.
Maybe your idea of “partying” is gingerly sipping a glass of chenin blanc in a lush garden while sampling sopressata and tangy chevre with three of your closest pals. If so, get to Bottlehouse in Madrona. This little craftsman houses one of the best wine bars in town, with a selection that has everything from conventional and low-intervention options, global and local bottles, and slushified wine-based cocktails. Enjoy it with plenty of snacks from the resident cheesemonger.