Unicorn
Photograph: Christopher Eltrich

The 17 best bars in Seattle

No matter your preferred locale when imbibing, the best bars in Seattle have you covered. Thirsty? Look no further

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Yes, the weather is a little soggy here, but that just gives you more reasons to nip into a bar for a quiet pint or three. There are so many things to do in Seattle, from amazing museums to top-notch attractions, but the city’s bustling bar scene might top the lot. This is the Pacific Northwest at its very best.

The best bars in Seattle cover all the bases. Looking for a crisp craft beer brewed locally? There is no shortage of the stuff here. Interested in classy cocktail bars? Don’t forget to slip on your dancing shoes. Coffee shops might come to mind first when thinking about Seattle, but the city truly comes alive when the sun goes down.

Best bars in Seattle

One of the most respected drinking holes around town, Bathtub Gin Co. makes cocktails so delicious you will never want to go anywhere else. Fans of gin will especially love this spot, boasting a menu that includes 30 varieties on any given night.

Loretta's is the perfect toasty Pacific Northwest hideaway. The massive outdoor space is fabulous during pleasant weather, and Twin Peaks fans will adore the interior decor. The real gem is not the booze (although the selection is impeccable) but the Tavern Burgers. Single or double-patty burgers come wrapped in paper. Unbutton those pants; you’ll want to order a few.

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Percy’s and Co. is a go-to spot if you take your cocktails seriously. This artisanal bar is flush with specialty drinks that delight your tastebuds and keep you guessing. The staff grows most of the herbs used in the cocktails on-premises because, as the venue’s website claims, “it just tastes better when you grow it yourself.”

The Cha Cha has been a staple in Seattle for a long time. Upstairs is an all-ages taco joint called Bimbo’s that serves simple burritos. Walk through the downstairs space and feel part of a 1950s deranged tiki bar. Along with an old-school photo booth, patrons delight in the vending machine stacked with ashtrays, condoms, T-shirts, and other eclectic (yet useful) products.

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A sports bar that doesn’t suck, Speckled and Drake is one of the best places to catch a game if you don’t feel like being mobbed by drunken bros. The bartenders are cool, most local football and basketball games are on display, and the drinks are satisfying. What else could you wish for?

If you're looking for some live music with your drinks, the nautical-themed Sunset Tavern is for you. You can catch a band or two most nights a week (check the calendar for info) with a very reasonable cover. Betty's Room, the front bar, is a convivial spot for a pre-show drink and home to the only photo booth in the Ballard neighborhood.

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Vinyl heads, unite! Revolver Bar is home to an extensive collection of records that are played on a continuous rotation. Locals and tourists are welcome to bring in their own albums to donate—so your next EP could become this Capitol Hill bar’s favorite new thing to spin. Make sure to grab a cup of the gumbo while here.

Hattie’s Hat is a local favorite. This homey bar and restaurant is packed with large booths, small tables, vintage decor, and friendly staff. The happy hour is generous, the drinks are simple, and the vibe is quintessential Seattle.

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Bait Shop is a great place to go for good vibes, excellent people, and strong drinks. The signature Painkiller is a frozen slushie made of various juices and a generous amount of rum. Many drinks come with a tiny plastic animal or mermaid holding onto the rim of the cup. This way, you’ll never be drinking alone.

An old-school Capitol Hill haunt, Linda’s is a great spot to hang out and while away the hours. With wide booths, a giant outdoor patio, and maybe one of the most perfect bar food menus, Linda’s is masses of fun. Plus, movies are projected on a giant screen within the bar, and the staff offers patrons free popcorn.

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9lb hammer was one of the first spots to set up shop in the Georgetown neighborhood. This cavernous space is often guarded by a line of motorcycles, which gives the entire venue character, especially when paired with the shuffleboard table inside.

If you like old-school gaming with your beers, head over to Add-a-Ball, one of the most impressive pinball bars in the city (believe it or not, there are a few). Through the unassuming entrance in a Fremont parking lot, visitors enter a maze-like bar filled with all sorts of pinball and video games.

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Don’t drink before going to the Unicorn Bar; it is trippy enough in here. The circus-themed place is not really a local hangout, but, if you’re in town, it is absolutely worth a visit—if you can handle it. Everything is drenched in wild colors with an impressive collection of animal heads that watch your every move.

Orient Express is a special kind of dive bar. The bar and restaurant are housed in a system of vintage train cars connected by a labyrinth of hallways. Some cars house dining rooms, others are bar areas, and additional ones are karaoke rooms. As if that wasn’t enough, the space also offers a full Chinese food menu, so you can snack while singing your heart out.

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Nestled in the West Seattle neighborhood, The Nook is a great place to hang out if you don’t really want to leave the house, but you have to. Come inside and revel in the tufted, homey furniture and get cozy with a tasty cocktail.

Don’t let the “cafe” in the name dissuade you: this is a dive bar. 5 Point Cafe is the ideal destination after hours and throughout the day. In town on New Year’s Eve? This is one of the best places to catch the Space Needle’s fireworks show—the bar is located right underneath.

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The Pine Box is a macabre spot housed in what was once a mortuary, and we absolutely adore it. The vast space is ideal for big groups who love craft beers (the selection is truly impressive), and the menu of traditional bar foods will keep the party going.

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