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Hottest Bars in Seattle to Try Right Now

By Leslie Kelly
July 7, 2014

Seattle's hottest cocktail bars, swanky lounges and massive beer halls come with the kind of energy only well-mixed drinks, good food and an inviting vibe can create. In short: they've got buzz. From brand-new hangouts like Damn the Weather to classics like Canon, all of these hangouts have one thing in common: they're almost always packed, especially on weekends. So, what are you waiting for? Sidle up to the 10 hottest bars in Seattle. 

  • Photo by: Facebook

    Damn the Weather

    Why It's Hot: This feel-good space in Pioneer Square brings together vintage brick walls and wood floors with innovative cocktails and envelope-pushing cuisine.
    Must-Drink: The aquavit-driven Svenskarna is fittingly refreshing for warm weather with its blast of cucumber and citrus. But The Lazuli, the bar's Northwest tribute to the margarita, is the can't-miss drink. It brings on the blueberries with blanco tequila and a bit of eucalyptus syrup. 
    Insider Tip: Chef Eli Dahlin's menu is a moving target. Fried chicken and bread pudding showed up last week. But you can always count on the adorable and totally delicious duck hot dog. Happy hour is between 4 and 6:30 PM, weekdays.

    116 First Ave. S.; 206-946-1283

  • Photo by: Paola Thomas

    Red Star Taco Bar

    Why It's Hot: An instant hit in Fremont, this late-night venue speaks to party-ready types who want to eat on the cheap and get their drink on. 
    Must-Drink: The Bourbon Jam Sour is brilliant, a tart sipper with a seasonal sweet note provided by housemade jam.
    Insider Tip: Don't miss the $2 tacos on Taco Tuesdays.

    513 N. 36th St.; 206-258-3087

  • Photo by: Nick Jurich

    Radiator Whiskey

    Why It's Hot: With its awesome cocktails, including barrel-aged creations, and fun menu items like cornflake-crusted chicken livers or egg-topped tater tots, this rocking spot across from Matt's in the Market feels like a party.
    Must-Drink: In the mood for something racy? Try The Showgirl. Named for the strip club across the street, it's a just-right mix of Buffalo Trace bourbon, Ramazotti amaro and house rhubarb bitters.
    Insider Tip: If you want to eat a whole pig head, you've got to order it in advance. They only make a few each day.

    94 Pike St.; 206-467-4268

  • Rhino Room

    Why It's Hot: This is the only club in the city — maybe on the planet — where you can dance all night and also order a huge plate of Hawaiian food (from Ma'ono, next door). 
    Must-Drink: Blend in by sipping a Rainier Tallboy or go tiki-style to match the food with an über-strong mai tai.
    Insider Tip: This place gets going late, so plan on arriving after 10 PM. That said, the bar opens at noon, and it's also become a popular spot for some day drinking.

    1535 11th Ave.

  • Elysian Bar

    Why It's Hot: This gorgeously updated former nightclub is the latest pad where superstar bartender Murray Stenson thrills with custom-made cocktails and engaging style.
    Must-Drink: Say oui, oui to the Parisian, made with Elysian gin, Doolin dry vermouth and a splash of cassis.
    Insider Tip: If you've got your heart set on face time with Murray, come early in the evening, because the bar stools fill up fast.

    1516 Second Ave.; 206-467-4458

  • Photo by: Claire Nelson

    Von Trapp's

    Why It's Hot: Bocce, beer and brats? Score! This way-popular place draws an eclectic crowd, though at certain times of the evening, the bros can run wild. We love the new outdoor beer garden too. 
    Must-Drink: This beer lover's paradise offers imports and local micros on tap — all served in teeny tasters, a one-liter vessel or several sizes in between.
    Insider Tip: To avoid the masses, hit up Sunday brunch.

  • Canon

    Why It's Hot: At this chill venue, barman Jamie Boudreau always keeps his lineup of clever cocktails fresh. They're so solid that the bar regularly gets national attention.
    Must-Drink: We get a huge kick out of the Long Island Iced Tea Redux, a carbonated version of that 1980s classic featuring four spirits — gin, vodka, tequila and rum — plus a little amaro to bring it all together.
    Insider Tip: Do a deep dive on your liquor of choice with a spirits flight, which includes whiskey distilled in Woodinville and Smoke Bombs for scotch geeks.

    928 12th Ave.; 206-552-9755 

  • El Borracho

    Why It's Hot: This taqueria does a smashing job on its fresh-juice-focused margaritas, making it tough to find an empty seat at its ever-busy Pike Place Market location.
    Must-Drink: It's a long way from tradition, but the coconut margarita is a blast, made with coconut-infused El Jimador blanco, coconut water, fresh lemon and lime juices, ginger simple syrup and a toasted-coconut-flake sugar rim.
    Insider Tip: Weekday happy hour feature $1 tacos between 4 and 7 PM.

    1521 First Ave.; 206-538-0440

  • Brave Horse Tavern

    Why It's Hot: Right in the heart of Amazon land, Tom Douglas' massive watering hole changes things up constantly, from the local micros on tap to the weekly burger specials.
    Must-Drink: Bring on the Boilermakers, ranging from the old-school shot of bourbon and Rainier to a very modern blast of Fireball paired with a semisweet cider.
    Insider Tip: The crazy-good corn dogs are back on the menu for summer.

    310 Terry Ave. N.; 206-971-0717

  • The Comet

    Why It's Hot: Crowds cheered the return of this landmark on Capitol Hill, where the spiffy update includes a bar menu that's built with sandwich lovers in mind.
    Must-Drink: It's tough to beat a $4 pitcher of beer at the 4 PM weekday happy hour, with a couple of dozen selections on tap, including the local favorite, Manny's Pale Ale.
    Insider Tip: The $9 wild-boar sloppy joe is a beautiful, if predictably messy, must-try. 

    922 E. Pike St.; 206-322-9272


Places Mentioned

Comet Tavern

Bar • Capitol Hill

Atmo.19 Decor14 Service18 CostI
Elysian Bar

Bar • Downtown

Atmo.- Decor- Service- CostI
Radiator Whiskey

American • Pike Place Market

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
Damn the Weather

Bar • Pioneer Square

Atmo.- Decor- Service- CostM
Brave Horse Tavern

American • South Lake Union

Food22 Decor23 Service19 Cost$23
Rhein Haus

German • Central District

Food- Decor- Service- CostI
Red Star Taco Bar

Bar • Fremont

Atmo.- Decor- Service- CostM
canon: whiskey and bitters emporium

Cocktail Bar • Central District

Atmo.- Decor- Service- CostM
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