Seattle’s 18 Most Important Bars


Seattle’s 18 Most Important Bars
Seattle’s 18 Most Important Bars

Courtesy of Canon: Whiskey and Bitters Emporium

Perhaps if you’re not yet 21, or if you live someplace far away like... um, Shoreline, then you have some excuse for not knowing that the 206 is home to some of the best places to drink beer in the nation, one of the country’s best whiskey bars, some incredible dive bars, and lots more seriously sweet drinking establishments. Some of these boozers, however, have had a greater impact on Seattle’s drinking culture than others. The ones on our list of Seattle’s 18 most important bars to be exact...

Courtesy of Canon: Whiskey and Bitters Emporium


Capitol Hill
If there’s an award, Canon has won it, if there’s a list of top bars, Canon’s probably on it. On the other hand, if there’s a whiskey worth drinking, it’s probably on Canon’s list. That’s the Captain’s list, a catalogue of every bottle the bar will serve you, which clocks in at 157 pages -- and the bartenders’ skill and knowledge is equally encyclopedic.

Bradley Foster/Thrillist


Capitol Hill
Maybe it’s the heat of the summer talking, or perhaps a few too many daiquiris, but after a visit to Rumba, Seattle does seem like the perfect place to open a Caribbean-themed bar. This house of island fantasies is dead serious about their rum, though -- look beyond the cliché-free cocktail menu for rare imports and unique bottles.

Flickr/Dennis Hamilton

Beveridge Place

West Seattle
The only thing as sprawling as this multi-room pub itself, is the tap list on the wall of this dog-friendly beer bar. It keeps more than 35 taps rotating through a huge variety of beer and cider, which makes it easy to find something to sip while meeting with big groups in the open area, playing bar games in one of the back rooms, or just chilling up to the bar.

Flickr/Martin Criminale

Chuck’s Hop Shop

This former-convenience-store wasn’t designed to be a great place to drink beer -- just a place to find those great beers. But it soon became a leader in the ex-mini-mart genre of bars, because where better to drink than amidst hundreds of bottles, and an extensive, fast-changing line-up of taps? Especially since you can do so with your dog, kid, and a snack from whichever food truck is parked in front.

Chona Kasinger/Thrillist

Zig Zag Café

Pike Place Market
This dim boozer below the Pike Place Market may have earned its fame under the watchful eye of Murray Stenson and his revitalization of the Last Word cocktail, but in the years since Stenson departed, the quality has been kept up and the lines kept down -- a perfect balance.

Flickr/Mobilus In Mobili

Central Saloon

Pioneer Square
Gold miners on their way to Alaska more than a century ago would stop in at this dive bar -- already old, having opened in 1892 -- for a few drinks, and if it’s good enough for them (and Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, and Soundgarden, who have all played here) it’s good enough for you.

Bradley Foster/Thrillist

Radiator Whiskey

Pike Place Market
It has a view of a strip club, serves half a pig’s head on a wooden platter, and ages its own whiskey. Short of keeping Ron Swanson ensconced at the bar discussing all of the hand-crafted wooden features there, this place could not get any cooler.

Tavern Law

Needle and Thread

Capitol Hill
When Tavern Law first opened its doors, there wasn’t a name for the tiny upstairs place serving only bespoke cocktails -- just a phone by a door in the main room. But word of the speakeasy spread as fast as that particular trend spread around the city (and the country). Soon, you could even make a reservation at the city's worst-kept secret, where you can find some of the tastiest, custom-made drinks.



Capitol Hill
An espresso/sushi/cocktail bar sounds like a recipe for disaster -- a Jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none type of situation -- but in fact the extensive cocktail list here is one of the best in the city. And the sushi and coffee ain’t bad, either.

Courtesy of Andrea Chapman, Sun Liquor

Sun Liquor

Capitol Hill
In an era where brewpubs litter the city, far fewer distilleries are licensed as bars. Sun, one of the only in the country, in fact, takes their award-winning gins and vodka and crafts them into cocktails designed to show off the product. And it makes a badass burger to go with ‘em.

Über Tavern

Uber Tavern

Green Lake
Sure, wildly-long tap lists and absurd bottle collections have become a bit more commonplace these days, but Über -- which opened the doors to its tiny space, with its indoor fire pit and beer-geek tendencies, in 2006 -- was doing it years ago, and still does it better than most places (including many of its much larger, corporate-style imitators).

Courtesy of Thomas M. Barwick

Quinn’s Pub

Capitol Hill
Quinn’s opened to wide celebration: no longer did Seattleites have to choose between intriguing beers and high-end, quality food. The term "gastropub" would later lose some of its meaning, but Quinn’s defined it for Seattle and, in the intervening years, it has lost none of its edge.

Chona Kasinger/Thrillist

The Hideout

First Hill
In the Internet age, it might seem hard for a bar to hide in plain sight, but nobody talks about The Hideout -- for reasons that are inexplicable. Owned by a pair of artists, the small space seamlessly connects the art world with the bar world, crafting cocktails that allude to artists, while displaying (and selling... from a vending machine!) art that pairs with drinks.

Courtesy of Bottlehouse


By the time Bottlehouse opened its adorable house of a space, the wine bar trend was already starting to fade -- probably because one like this had yet to exist. A comfortable, homey space with a secret garden-style porch, Bottlehouse makes sure its staff know what they’re doing, both with wine and with helping customers find what they are looking for (even if it’s something from their small selection of delectable eats), because "snobby" is not in the vocabulary here.


Brouwer’s Cafe

Washington will always be loyal to its craft beers and IPAs, but Brouwer’s serves those while still paying homage to the classic beer styles, keeping taps and shelves stocked with Belgians, sours, and great beers from around the world, along with a wide selection of Scotch (and darn good French fries).

The 5 Point Cafe

For those moments when you are in need of both more booze and a little something greasy to soak it up, this 24-hour dive bar -- one of the 33 best in America -- has just what you need (including an early morning happy hour), and has had it since 1929.


Linda’s Tavern

Capitol Hill
There’s no explaining just how much Linda “gets” what a bar needs to be, but somehow, this spot is perfect. It’s not the biggest, or the shiniest, and it doesn’t serve the best drinks -- in fact, there are no superlatives for it. Just like the Goldilocks of bars, it’s been hitting that sweet spot in the middle that’s made everyone love it -- including Kurt Cobain, who was seen here the day he died -- for over 20 years now. (But in this fairy tale, the three bears are probably taxidermied to match the décor).

Rob Roy

Just when Belltown hit peak bro, a dark lounge serving expertly made cocktails snuck into the neighborhood. Owner Anu Apte manages to strike a perfect balance between the neighborhood’s storied scene and the needs of cocktail nerds to find great whiskey and cocktails nearby.

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1. Canon 928 12th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122 (Capitol Hill)

This snug bespoke whiskey bar and bitters emporium makes up for its cozy quarters with an astounding collection of wine and spirits (peep the 94-page menu!). If that weren't reason enough to check out this Capitol Hill spot, Canon Whiskey holds the title for having the largest selection of American whiskey in the world... score!

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2. Rumba 1112 Pike St, Seattle, WA 98101 (Capitol Hill)

If you like rum and anything Tiki-related, hit Rumba and enjoy a selection of over 250 different kinds of rum, and a small but deliciously packed menu. Inspired by '50s-era Havana drinking rooms, Rumba's boozy and fruity libations pair well with a menu of Caribbean eats like baked empanadas, jerk chicken wings, and pork belly tostones.

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3. Beveridge Place Pub 6413 California Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98136 (West Seattle)

Beveridge Place Pub has a selection of 36 taps of brews and ciders, with friendly bartenders to help you decide which ones to taste. This place is replete with comfy couches and chessboards, pool tables, shuffleboard, plus bowls of Goldfish and other salty snacks. It doesn’t have a kitchen, but encourages delivery from any of the handful of nearby restaurants, so you can enjoy whatever West Seattle food your heart desires without having to relocate.

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4. Chuck's Hop Shop 656 NW 85th St, Seattle, WA 98117 (Greenwood)

Chuck's Hop shop has over 50 rotating taps, typically divided down the middle between cider and beer, and over 1,000 bottled beers. If you find something you like, kegs and growlers are also available. Come hungry and enjoy the patio while munching from a local food truck with always changing options to choose from.

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5. Zig Zag Cafe 1501 Western Ave., Seattle, WA 98101 (Central District)

This warm, intimate cocktail haven and American eatery in Pike Place has got your next date night covered. Plush banquettes flank the hip, bistro-inspired space, and a stellar happy hour (5-7pm Monday through Friday) makes it easy to knock back a few. Meticulously crafted entrees like the 12 hour beef shank with malted barley and horseradish gremolata are savory and sophisticated.

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6. The Central Saloon 207 1st Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104

This casual saloon opened in the 19th century and serves tons of excellent American pub food.

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7. Radiator Whiskey 94 Pike St, Ste 30, Seattle, WA 98101 (Downtown)

Radiator Whiskey is a brewpub in Downtown that's dishing out barrel-aged, gravity-poured cocktails as well as American classics that may or may not include Fritos.

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8. The Needle and Thread 1406 12th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122

This Capitol Hill semi-secret spot is a posh, menuless boozy 25-seat space that specializes in Prohibition-era cocktails -- in other words there'll be drinks made with egg whites and scotch.

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9. Liberty 517 15th Ave E, Seattle, WA 98112 (Capitol Hill)

Sushi and craft cocktails make a great pair at this Capitol Hill neighborhood eatery. Run by the President of the Washington State Bartender’s Guild/Vice President of the Washington Distillers’ Guild, this spot has a lot to live up to libation wise, and it delivers with a nice selection of well-made classic cocktails, house standards, and an extensive array of whiskey, vodka, tequila, and bourbon. Comfy couches make up for limited bar seating.

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10. Sun Liquor 607 Summit Ave E, Seattle, WA 98102 (Capitol Hill)

Sun Liquor's a Capitol Hill distillery & bar that also serves New American dinner and brunch dishes (options include a Tilamook cheddar "Tiki" burger with grilled pineapple and buttermilk biscuits and gravy). This spot makes top notch cocktails (duh), the likes of which include riffs on the classics like French 75's (Sun's Oslo 75 features Aquavit and sloe gin) plus original creations, all of which are picture perfect to sip in SL's plush, speakeasy style establishment.

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11. Über Tavern 7517 Aurora Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103

Station yourself in front of the indoor fire pit with a stiff pint of beer at Über Tavern and it’s guaranteed you won’t be making any moves anytime soon. Right off Aurora, this ultimate rainy day hang highlights a hefty selection of beers on draught and bottled, as well as kegs and growlers.

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12. Quinn's Pub 1001 E Pike St, Seattle, WA 98122 (Capitol Hill)

This wood-paneled gastropub slings equally upscale and messy plates like foie gras frites, wild boar sloppy joes, and the off-menu "Ultra Burger." That last one is created on the chef’s whim and has previously included bizarre combinations like glazed donuts and whole duck eggs. But for those days when stepping outside your comfort zone just isn't going to happen, there's the juicy Painted Hills burger, made with white cheddar, bacon, and mayo on a buttery brioche bun.

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13. The Hideout 1005 Boren Ave, Seattle, WA 98102 (Capitol Hill)

With novelty artwork adorning the interior, The Hideout offers cocktails with fresh squeezed juice in their dimly lit, cozy space.

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14. Bottlehouse 1416 34th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122

Opened by two lovebirds whose resumes include interior design, event planning, and, naturally, fly-fishing, this new wine bar/shop slings a bevy of local and not-so-local vintages, small bites, and assorted wine-ware from the converted home it shares with

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15. Brouwer's Cafe 400 N 35th St, Seattle, WA 98103 (Fremont)

This beer hall serves more than 60 beers on tap and has a daily happy hour. Eats include bar bites like assorted nuts with smoked sea salt, pomme frites with guilty Belgian beer cheese sauce, and falafel fries.

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16. The 5 Point Cafe 415 Cedar St, Seattle, WA 98121 (Belltown)

It's hard to argue with this quirky's dive's tagline: "Alcoholics serving alcoholics since 1929" -- these guys have been serving boozy concoctions way under the radar since just before the end of prohibition, and it shows. The same goes for its heaping breakfasts of chicken & biscuits, plate-sized pancakes, and vegetarian hash and endless selection of classic burgers, sandwiches, and classic American comfort foods that make an ideal pair for a pint or specialty cocktail.

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17. Linda's Tavern 707 E Pine St, Seattle, WA 98122 (Capitol Hill)

A classic pub in Seattle, Linda's prides itself on being "a nice place for nice people".

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18. Rob Roy 2332 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA 98121 (Belltown)

This 50s' style cocktail lounge in Belltown serves classic libations in addition to a solid beer selection and smattering of small-plate bar dishes to soak up your booze. Besides offering all the traditional tipplers (Negronis, Manhattans, Old Fashioneds, and of course, Rob Roys), Rob Roy's rotating artisanal offerings like the Campari and pineapple soaked Jungle Bird will whet your whistle if you're seeking a more creative boozy beverage.