Despite the fact that most people think Seattle is like the monsoon scene from Jumanji, tourists continue rotating in like sushi on an all-you-can-eat conveyor belt. And whether they show up during the warmer sunny months and are proven wrong, or during the rest of the year when the rain is more like a constant mist, they’re going to be thirsty. From chill lakeside patios to total sensory overloads, here are 11 bars where you should drink with your visitors.
By now, you probably already know (at least you should) that Canon is the leader of the pack when it comes to cocktail bars in Seattle. This place is for the friends who have a tricked out bar cart in their apartment with 17 different types of bitters. Everything in here is complex, delicious, and might be served in a lightbulb, soup can, or miniature ceramic bathtub. Just remember to make a reservation a couple weeks in advance.
Maybe your cousins just spent a lot of money on the flight here from Augusta, so you need somewhere that’s not too expensive but also not boring. Add-A-Ball is an arcade bar with reasonably-priced beer and well cocktails that don’t taste like ethanol and 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.
Capitol Cider feels like time traveling to your friend’s basement in high school, only with alcohol you obtained legally. There are couches, a fireplace, hand shuffleboard, and a bookcase full of other games. The lineup of ciders here is pretty massive - grab a pint of something semi-dry if you’re feeling safe, or an apple mead if you’re feeling medieval.
Chances are, your friends are a healthy mix of a) exhausted from the road trip over and b) down to party. When this happens, you should find yourselves at Woodsky’s, a calm spot that works for all energy levels. Drink alcoholic Hawaiian punch “avalanche” slushies, watch snowboarding on TV, and shoot whiskey together on a massive shotski. If it wasn’t clear, this bar is snow-lodge themed, so you get bonus friend points if anyone in the group dabbles in winter sports.
The Brewlab combines two Seattle constants in one spot - small-batch beer, and new apartment developments. The modern inside has brewing tanks on display, wood-fired pizza smells, and a largely unused back room with hand shuffleboard. Redhook beer has been around for a while, but this brewlab is for special experiments like caramel macchiato stouts and peach-mango IPAs. Self-proclaimed “beer people” will probably not shut up about this place.
Wine tasting for hours in Woodinville is all fun and games until you have an empty bottle of Cabernet Franc in one hand, a French baguette in the other, and your sunglasses are on upside-down. Don’t do that. Just go to Bottlehouse with your friends instead. It’s a charming renovated house where you can get the full Pacific Northwest wine experience without having to spend the day outside of the city. Order some flights or a wine slushie, and don’t forget some charcuterie, too.
Unicorn is a carnival-themed sensory overload where you eat corn dogs, play arcade games, and drink cocktails that have names like “Americorn” and contain ingredients like bubblegum vodka and high fructose corn syrup. It’s a pretty ridiculous scene, but it’s such an institution that you should just pop in for a glass of unicorn jizz and call it a night. You will likely encounter the rowdiest skee-ball tournament of your life and someone falling face-first into a pinball machine.
Drinking at Bait Shop is a fantastic way to show visitors around Capitol Hill without anyone getting shoved by a bride-to-be wearing an inner tube shaped like a dragon. Grab a booth in the very nautical space for a chill night of frozen painkillers, board games, and some of the best fish and chips in the city.
The Chinese food at New Luck Toy is great - but the drinks are why you should bring your friends from out of town here. Also, paper lanterns and waving lucky cats in the dark space are a nice touch. There is no wrong way to do a night here, whether you sing karaoke in the private room that looks like a woodland creature’s grotto or just play skee-ball with a round of frozen hurricanes.
Since Seattle is surrounded by water, we’re surprised there aren’t more spots like Octopus Bar. It’s basically a pirate-themed party with a big wooden bar, hanging ropes and fishnets, and great cocktails garnished with Swedish Fish. You should order some snacks involving homemade spicy queso to enjoy while you drink.
Your friends heard that Seattle was the birthplace of grunge music, and naturally, they want to see grunge in action. Take them to Linda’s, where Kurt Cobain used to hang out and the bartenders will never be described as “sweet.” There are a couple of arcade games, a huge patio, shot-and-a-beer specials, and a fun crowd at all times. Whoever Linda is, we like her.