Inside Passage review image

Inside Passage


1108 Pike St, Seattle
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Inside Passage is a bar-within-a-bar, a.k.a. a speakeasy accessible through a sneaky side door inside Rumba. The hype surrounding this underwater adventure-themed cocktail establishment is intense, and if you’d like to check it out on a Friday or Saturday, you probably can’t since they’ll be booked. Weeknights are usually fair game, and you can make an online reservation to secure your 90 minutes—just barely enough time for a snack and two rounds of drinks.

When you enter, it’s immediately clear what kind of bar this is. Like walking into a queue for a top-tier amusement park’s pirate ride, there are neon lights blasting everywhere, “sea monster” tentacles adhered to the ceiling, and lots of tropical accoutrements. With all of the theatrics, you’d expect Inside Passage to be rowdy and loud, but it’s actually a relaxed, kind-of-quiet place to drink. That makes the whole experience fun, and something you should do once. But really, only once, and that’s because the drinks, while tasty, are overpriced.

Inside Passage review image

photo credit: Nate Watters

The menu has classics like hurricanes and blue Hawaiis, drinks that pay homage to influential mixologists (like “The Four Boys,” which is an ube and rice milk-spiked rum drink named for the quartet of Filipino bartenders who invented the original “Rhum Rapsodies” at Don The Beachcomber) and drinks that poke fun at a certain large tech company (the “Amazombie” is served on top of a replica Prime shipping box). For starters, they’re all really expensive. We’re talking Canon-level prices, around $20 and up. But unfortunately, these aren’t mind-melting works of liquor-based art like the drinks at Canon. Many of the cocktails here have a ton of ice, and/or taste like soccer practice juice boxes despite containing three types of rum, champagne syrup, yellow chartreuse, rhum agricole, marionberry, lime, and passionfruit. A refreshing juice box nonetheless, but you get the idea.

Small plates like coconut shrimp and spam sliders are good enough if you need a nibble, but we’ve had much better bar snacks in the neighborhood for lower prices. But if you’re curious about the hype and need somewhere different to entertain out-of-towners or to host a low-stakes date, then consider coming here to bask under the neon glow and faux squid legs.

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