clock menu more-arrow no yes
A shiny wood bar, with a mirror behind it and tall racks of bottles.
The bar at Bar Sabine in Ballard.
Courtesy of Bar Sabine

18 Essential Seattle Bars

With speakeasies, rooftop bars, dives, and more

View as Map
The bar at Bar Sabine in Ballard.
| Courtesy of Bar Sabine

With the abundance and variety of bars in Seattle, there's no excuse ever to go thirsty here — but when trying to share the greatest spots with friends and visitors, where should locals even begin narrowing down the contenders?

Belltown, Ballard Ave, and the Pike-Pine corridor of Capitol Hill are amusement parks for boozehounds — on 2nd Avenue in Belltown, for example, it's easy to drink from Guadalajara to Coney Island to the South Pacific without crossing the street.This guide includes some excellent options in those areas, and also highlights diverse standouts elsewhere in the city, with an emphasis on well-established, homegrown institutions along with a few newer bars that have added something novel to the scene. This list focuses on bars that serve spirits. We have separate lists for Seattle’s many fantastic wine bars and bottleshops, natural wine bars, and breweries.

Know of a spot that should be on our radar? Send us a tip by emailing seattle@eater.com. As usual, this list is not ranked; it’s organized geographically.

For all the latest Seattle dining intel, subscribe to Eater Seattle’s newsletter.

Read More
Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Shanty Tavern

Copy Link
9002 Lake City Way NE
Seattle, WA 98115
(206) 526-9854
Visit Website

It's a pleasing contradiction that one of Seattle's most exclusive bars is also one of its least pretentious. The Shanty Tavern in Lake City is a honky-tonk throwback, open only on Friday nights, when it features live music, usually with a country twang. Affable owner John Spaccarotelli has been behind the bar for half a century.

2. Bar Sabine

Copy Link
5307 Ballard Ave NW
Seattle, WA 98107
(206) 566-0284
Visit Website

French restaurant Bastille Cafe and Bar, a longstanding Ballard favorite from Seattle restauranteurs James Weimann and Deming Maclise, was forced to shutter during the pandemic. The two bounced back by rebooting as Sabine Cafe & Market in the same location in October 2020. Over a year later, Bar Sabine opened in the former space of Bastille’s Back Bar, featuring bold cocktails — like the Born Again, made with hibiscus gin, vodka, Szechuan peppercorn, rooibos tea aperitif, and lemon oil — and a Middle East-meets-Pacific Northwest menu with excellent pita and hummus.

Grilled meat on sticks, fluffy pita, broccoli, salad, and a neon green cocktail laid out on a wooden table.
A spread of food and a cocktail at Bar Sabine.
Courtesy of Bar Sabine

3. Tractor Tavern

Copy Link
5213 Ballard Ave NW
Seattle, WA 98107
(206) 789-3599
Visit Website

Along increasingly hip Ballard Avenue, full of new restaurants and bars, this live music venue represents the best of the good old days. Listen to country, folk, rock, and blues performers while knocking back PBRs served without a hint of irony.

4. Russell's

Copy Link
4111 Stone Way N
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 547-1653
Visit Website

Russell’s is a rare phenomenon: a thoroughly modern neighborhood joint. On most nights you’ll find Joe Russel, the owner, behind the comfortably stylish bar, mixing classic cocktails and pouring a small but choice selection of beer and wine on tap. The food menu includes meatballs, a Cuban sandwich, and a house-made pretzel on weekends.

5. George & Dragon Pub

Copy Link
206 N 36th St
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 545-6864
Visit Website

This Fremont institution does a remarkable job of simulating a no-nonsense, working-class English pub, anchored by a sturdy mahogany bar with a dozen or so beers on tap. For soccer-loving lads and lasses, this is Seattle’s best sports bar.

6. Bar Miriam

Copy Link
307 W McGraw St
Seattle, WA 98119
(206) 708-1213
Visit Website

Bar Miriam, under the same ownership as Baker’s in Sunset Hill, has been impressing local food critics with its food and drink menu since it opened earlier this year. The food menu include creative snacks like Kentucky-fried soft shell crab, smoked trout churros, and tandoori eggplant with cilantro-chili chutney, yogurt, and mint. The cocktails match the food in quality, with boozy concoctions like the Talent Scout, made with bourbon, pierre ferrand dry curaco, and angostura.

7. Mecca Cafe

Copy Link
526 Queen Anne Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109
(206) 285-9728
Visit Website

Seattle’s selection of dive bars may be thinning, but some impressive old stalwarts soldier on. The Mecca is a prime example. It manages to be charming without losing its edge, and the narrow barroom creates the forced intimacy that many look for in a dive.

8. Liberty

Copy Link
517 15th Ave E
Seattle, WA 98112
(206) 323-9898
Visit Website

A soothing blond-wood interior, squeezed-to-order mixers, and friendly, fastidious bartenders combine to give Liberty its unique aura: It’s a cocktail lounge with the wholesome vibe of a juice bar.

Matthew Lombardi for Eater

9. mbar

Copy Link
400 Fairview Ave N 14th Floor
Seattle, WA 98109
(206) 457-8287
Visit Website

Sporting an epic rooftop patio with views of Lake Union, the Space Needle, and myriad cranes soaring above the booming SLU neighborhood, Mbar perhaps the best rooftop bar in Seattle. It’s made even more memorable with a robust Middle Eastern menu with dishes like smoked eggplant croquettes, muhammara, falafel, and grilled lamb chops from the same restaurant group that owns Mamnoon, as well as some potent cocktails like the Cypress Avenue, made with gin, vermouth, mastic, and orange bitters.

10. Rose Temple

Copy Link
1801 E Olive Way
Seattle, WA 98102

This Capitol Hill bar is a good spot for someone looking for an excellent drink in a colorful environment but doesn’t want to brave the traffic of the neighborhood’s main nightlife strip on a weekend. The boozy slushies are perfect for a night of partying in the summer, and rotating cocktails like the Delores — made with tequila, smoked chili, mango, lime, and a tajin rim — are always well-balanced. The food includes snacks like deviled eggs and queso fresco poutine, burritos, and a variety of sandwiches.

A bar scene with people seated at tables, a DJ, and a disco ball reflecting multi-colored lights.
Rose Temple is a colorful bar in Capitol Hill.
Courtesy of Rose Temple

11. Navy Strength

Copy Link
2505 2nd Ave #102
Seattle, WA 98121
(206) 420-7043
Visit Website

This low-key tiki-style bar on a quiet strip in Belltown was named the best new cocktail bar in America in 2018 by Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, one of the bar industry’s most important awards. Since then, the bar’s creative cocktails with wide-ranging inspirations have continued to impress. Try the Space Crush, inspired by Japanese disco culture, made with shiso-infused tepache, Japanese melon, lime, pineapple, and gin, or swing by in October for a whole list of horror-movie-inspired cocktails (in 2021, that included a Midsommar cocktail with a flowers, mushroom powder, and aquavit).

12. Linda's Tavern

Copy Link
707 E Pine St
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 325-1220
Visit Website

It’s not seedy enough to qualify as a full-fledged dive, but there’s something admirably durable and dive-like about Linda’s. It’s the wise, seen-it-all matron of Capitol Hill bars, decked out in country-western attire. Dogs are also welcomed. Check out Linda’s sister bar, King’s Hardware, in Ballard for a similar vibe and menu.

13. Phocific Standard Time

Copy Link
1923 7th Ave
Seattle, WA 98101

“Viet style tree house” Phocific Standard Time (PST) is an intimate bar right above Pho Bac’s downtown location that serves cocktails made with Vietnamese ingredients and flavors. Try the trung muoi, made with a pho fat washed Japanese whisky, cream sherry, carcavelos wine, and salted egg yolk; or nuoc mat, a cocktail with soju, Cocchi Americano, logan, and citrus and jasmine flavors. Co-owner Yenvy Pham has whipped up a playful menu with offerings like a creamy, cheesy crab dip that perfectly compliments PST’s drinks.

14. Unicorn

Copy Link
1118 E Pike St
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 325-6492
Visit Website

You're in your 20s and you want to spend a night drinking cocktails, eating corn dogs, and showing off your tattoos. For this sizable Seattle demographic, Capitol Hill's Unicorn is heaven. It has over-the-top carnival decor and food that's way better than it has to be. Expect X-rated cocktail names like “unicorn jizz,” on the drink menu, a claw machine full of dildos, and a massive phallic unicorn hat reserved for those who visit on their birthdays.

15. Inside Passage

Copy Link
1108 Pike St
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 583-7177
Visit Website

At this sibling bar to next door Rumba on Capitol Hill, there’s an over-the-top oceanic fantasy mood, with a giant tentacled sea creature hanging from the ceiling, thatched booths, and a variety of tropical-leaning cocktails in elaborate mugs made for Instagram. Check out the Ballard fog cutter, a cocktail you can drink out of a horn, or the dinglehopper, a drink inspired by The Little Mermaid. The snacks are also generally tropical, with Spam sliders, papaya salads, and yam and taro chips.

16. Jupiter Bar

Copy Link
2126 2nd Ave Suite A
Seattle, WA 98121

This wonderfully grungy Belltown haunt features a huge collection of retro pinball machines along with some other old-school arcade games. The music is also generally from the 70s and 80s, and the walls are painted with large murals of scantily clad men and women and neon signs writing words like “fuck”. The drinks and food are serviceable; the vibe is what makes this spot stand out.

17. Bathtub Gin & Co.

Copy Link
2205 2nd Ave
Seattle, WA 98121
(206) 728-6069
Visit Website

Belltown’s spin on a speakeasy is a secret within a secret. It’s a “hidden” bar on an alley between 1st and 2nd Ave, but once you get past the novelty of the location, the real discovery is the fantastic list of skillfully executed cocktails.

Matthew Lombardi for Eater

18. Canon

Copy Link
928 12th Ave
Seattle, WA 98122

The alpha dog of Seattle craft cocktail bars earns its lofty reputation with a spirits list of over 4,000 labels, which the business claims is America’s largest spirits collection. The cocktails are also delicious and inventive, including cocktails using decades-old spirits that often cost hundreds of dollars. The food includes bites like Taylor Shellfish oysters and beef tartare as well as larger portions like pork chops and steaks.

Matthew Lombardi for Eater

1. Shanty Tavern

9002 Lake City Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115

It's a pleasing contradiction that one of Seattle's most exclusive bars is also one of its least pretentious. The Shanty Tavern in Lake City is a honky-tonk throwback, open only on Friday nights, when it features live music, usually with a country twang. Affable owner John Spaccarotelli has been behind the bar for half a century.

9002 Lake City Way NE
Seattle, WA 98115

2. Bar Sabine

5307 Ballard Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107
Grilled meat on sticks, fluffy pita, broccoli, salad, and a neon green cocktail laid out on a wooden table.
A spread of food and a cocktail at Bar Sabine.
Courtesy of Bar Sabine

French restaurant Bastille Cafe and Bar, a longstanding Ballard favorite from Seattle restauranteurs James Weimann and Deming Maclise, was forced to shutter during the pandemic. The two bounced back by rebooting as Sabine Cafe & Market in the same location in October 2020. Over a year later, Bar Sabine opened in the former space of Bastille’s Back Bar, featuring bold cocktails — like the Born Again, made with hibiscus gin, vodka, Szechuan peppercorn, rooibos tea aperitif, and lemon oil — and a Middle East-meets-Pacific Northwest menu with excellent pita and hummus.

5307 Ballard Ave NW
Seattle, WA 98107

3. Tractor Tavern

5213 Ballard Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107

Along increasingly hip Ballard Avenue, full of new restaurants and bars, this live music venue represents the best of the good old days. Listen to country, folk, rock, and blues performers while knocking back PBRs served without a hint of irony.

5213 Ballard Ave NW
Seattle, WA 98107

4. Russell's

4111 Stone Way N, Seattle, WA 98103

Russell’s is a rare phenomenon: a thoroughly modern neighborhood joint. On most nights you’ll find Joe Russel, the owner, behind the comfortably stylish bar, mixing classic cocktails and pouring a small but choice selection of beer and wine on tap. The food menu includes meatballs, a Cuban sandwich, and a house-made pretzel on weekends.

4111 Stone Way N
Seattle, WA 98103

5. George & Dragon Pub

206 N 36th St, Seattle, WA 98103

This Fremont institution does a remarkable job of simulating a no-nonsense, working-class English pub, anchored by a sturdy mahogany bar with a dozen or so beers on tap. For soccer-loving lads and lasses, this is Seattle’s best sports bar.

206 N 36th St
Seattle, WA 98103

6. Bar Miriam

307 W McGraw St, Seattle, WA 98119

Bar Miriam, under the same ownership as Baker’s in Sunset Hill, has been impressing local food critics with its food and drink menu since it opened earlier this year. The food menu include creative snacks like Kentucky-fried soft shell crab, smoked trout churros, and tandoori eggplant with cilantro-chili chutney, yogurt, and mint. The cocktails match the food in quality, with boozy concoctions like the Talent Scout, made with bourbon, pierre ferrand dry curaco, and angostura.

307 W McGraw St
Seattle, WA 98119

7. Mecca Cafe

526 Queen Anne Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109

Seattle’s selection of dive bars may be thinning, but some impressive old stalwarts soldier on. The Mecca is a prime example. It manages to be charming without losing its edge, and the narrow barroom creates the forced intimacy that many look for in a dive.

526 Queen Anne Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109

8. Liberty

517 15th Ave E, Seattle, WA 98112
Matthew Lombardi for Eater

A soothing blond-wood interior, squeezed-to-order mixers, and friendly, fastidious bartenders combine to give Liberty its unique aura: It’s a cocktail lounge with the wholesome vibe of a juice bar.

517 15th Ave E
Seattle, WA 98112

9. mbar

400 Fairview Ave N 14th Floor, Seattle, WA 98109

Sporting an epic rooftop patio with views of Lake Union, the Space Needle, and myriad cranes soaring above the booming SLU neighborhood, Mbar perhaps the best rooftop bar in Seattle. It’s made even more memorable with a robust Middle Eastern menu with dishes like smoked eggplant croquettes, muhammara, falafel, and grilled lamb chops from the same restaurant group that owns Mamnoon, as well as some potent cocktails like the Cypress Avenue, made with gin, vermouth, mastic, and orange bitters.

400 Fairview Ave N 14th Floor
Seattle, WA 98109

10. Rose Temple

1801 E Olive Way, Seattle, WA 98102
A bar scene with people seated at tables, a DJ, and a disco ball reflecting multi-colored lights.
Rose Temple is a colorful bar in Capitol Hill.
Courtesy of Rose Temple

This Capitol Hill bar is a good spot for someone looking for an excellent drink in a colorful environment but doesn’t want to brave the traffic of the neighborhood’s main nightlife strip on a weekend. The boozy slushies are perfect for a night of partying in the summer, and rotating cocktails like the Delores — made with tequila, smoked chili, mango, lime, and a tajin rim — are always well-balanced. The food includes snacks like deviled eggs and queso fresco poutine, burritos, and a variety of sandwiches.

1801 E Olive Way
Seattle, WA 98102

11. Navy Strength

2505 2nd Ave #102, Seattle, WA 98121

This low-key tiki-style bar on a quiet strip in Belltown was named the best new cocktail bar in America in 2018 by Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, one of the bar industry’s most important awards. Since then, the bar’s creative cocktails with wide-ranging inspirations have continued to impress. Try the Space Crush, inspired by Japanese disco culture, made with shiso-infused tepache, Japanese melon, lime, pineapple, and gin, or swing by in October for a whole list of horror-movie-inspired cocktails (in 2021, that included a Midsommar cocktail with a flowers, mushroom powder, and aquavit).

2505 2nd Ave #102
Seattle, WA 98121

12. Linda's Tavern

707 E Pine St, Seattle, WA 98122

It’s not seedy enough to qualify as a full-fledged dive, but there’s something admirably durable and dive-like about Linda’s. It’s the wise, seen-it-all matron of Capitol Hill bars, decked out in country-western attire. Dogs are also welcomed. Check out Linda’s sister bar, King’s Hardware, in Ballard for a similar vibe and menu.

707 E Pine St
Seattle, WA 98122

13. Phocific Standard Time

1923 7th Ave, Seattle, WA 98101

“Viet style tree house” Phocific Standard Time (PST) is an intimate bar right above Pho Bac’s downtown location that serves cocktails made with Vietnamese ingredients and flavors. Try the trung muoi, made with a pho fat washed Japanese whisky, cream sherry, carcavelos wine, and salted egg yolk; or nuoc mat, a cocktail with soju, Cocchi Americano, logan, and citrus and jasmine flavors. Co-owner Yenvy Pham has whipped up a playful menu with offerings like a creamy, cheesy crab dip that perfectly compliments PST’s drinks.

1923 7th Ave
Seattle, WA 98101

14. Unicorn

1118 E Pike St, Seattle, WA 98122

You're in your 20s and you want to spend a night drinking cocktails, eating corn dogs, and showing off your tattoos. For this sizable Seattle demographic, Capitol Hill's Unicorn is heaven. It has over-the-top carnival decor and food that's way better than it has to be. Expect X-rated cocktail names like “unicorn jizz,” on the drink menu, a claw machine full of dildos, and a massive phallic unicorn hat reserved for those who visit on their birthdays.

1118 E Pike St
Seattle, WA 98122

15. Inside Passage

1108 Pike St, Seattle, WA 98101

At this sibling bar to next door Rumba on Capitol Hill, there’s an over-the-top oceanic fantasy mood, with a giant tentacled sea creature hanging from the ceiling, thatched booths, and a variety of tropical-leaning cocktails in elaborate mugs made for Instagram. Check out the Ballard fog cutter, a cocktail you can drink out of a horn, or the dinglehopper, a drink inspired by The Little Mermaid. The snacks are also generally tropical, with Spam sliders, papaya salads, and yam and taro chips.

1108 Pike St
Seattle, WA 98101

Related Maps

16. Jupiter Bar

2126 2nd Ave Suite A, Seattle, WA 98121

This wonderfully grungy Belltown haunt features a huge collection of retro pinball machines along with some other old-school arcade games. The music is also generally from the 70s and 80s, and the walls are painted with large murals of scantily clad men and women and neon signs writing words like “fuck”. The drinks and food are serviceable; the vibe is what makes this spot stand out.

2126 2nd Ave Suite A
Seattle, WA 98121

17. Bathtub Gin & Co.

2205 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA 98121
Matthew Lombardi for Eater

Belltown’s spin on a speakeasy is a secret within a secret. It’s a “hidden” bar on an alley between 1st and 2nd Ave, but once you get past the novelty of the location, the real discovery is the fantastic list of skillfully executed cocktails.

2205 2nd Ave
Seattle, WA 98121

18. Canon

928 12th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122
Matthew Lombardi for Eater

The alpha dog of Seattle craft cocktail bars earns its lofty reputation with a spirits list of over 4,000 labels, which the business claims is America’s largest spirits collection. The cocktails are also delicious and inventive, including cocktails using decades-old spirits that often cost hundreds of dollars. The food includes bites like Taylor Shellfish oysters and beef tartare as well as larger portions like pork chops and steaks.

928 12th Ave
Seattle, WA 98122

Related Maps