Craft Cocktail Bars are Shaking Things Up

A neighborhood-by-neighborhood guide to some of Seattle's best cocktail bars
A.J. Rathbun  |   August 2013   |  FROM THE PRINT EDITION
Canon seattle best cocktails in seattle seattle magazine
Canon’s Jaime Boudreau puts a modern spin on the classics

Bastille Cafe & Bar

The back bar has a certain sexiness and a lovely chandelier, but I like the more ornate front bar best, even if you are surrounded by the clatter of diners seeking French bistro fare. Sample the tangily refreshing Port Salut Buck (rum, cognac, lime, ginger, seltzer, bitters; $11) off the seasonally changing bar menu from bar manager extraordinaire Erik Carlson (former bar manager at Moshi Moshi) and watch the bustle go by. 5307 Ballard Ave. NW; 206.453.5014;

With Essex’s reputation for exemplary ingredients house-made by owner Brandon Pettit and a comfortably continental neighborhood demeanor, you’ll want to stay and try multiple drinks from the rotating menu designed by Pettit and bar manager Gary Abts (last of Licorous). Or, have a few before you head next door for Delancey’s ace pizza, under the same ownership (although there are lots of rustic noshes at Essex, you can’t order pizza). If you only have time for one drink, don’t miss the already-legendary bubbly and rich Red Medicine: rye, house-made Fernet, huckleberry liqueur and Rachel’s ginger beer ($11). 21+ only. 1421 NW 70th St.; 206.724.0471;

Golden Beetle
With adventuresome pairings, ingredients made in house and changing seasonal spotlights, the Beetle’s bar menu, created by Andy McClellan (previously of Lola and Palace Kitchen), often comes close to outshining the delicious Mediterranean food by James Beard Foundation Award winner Maria Hines. A good example is the herbal and smoke-tinged Frenchtown, which brings together rye, lesser-known French aperitif Bonal Gentiane-Quina, black walnut bitters and Laphroaig Scotch ($12). It also goes well with the muted, earth-toned atmosphere. 1744 NW Market St.; 206.706.2977;

A slightly tarnished grandeur and an eclectic décor (such as carved Indonesian cattle skulls) gives this little two-story downtown Ballard lounge a charm all its own. But go early, if possible, as it gets a little too hip-to-hip on most evenings—especially on the always packed sidewalk patio. Order up a refreshing classic, such as the Horse’s Neck (rye, ginger beer and lemon zest; $7) or something from the occasionally changing bar menu, from bar manager and co-owner Drew Church, to match the scene and keep your cool. 21+ only. 2311 NW Market St.; 206.783.0478

Moshi Moshi
It takes a particular kind of creativity to match cocktails and sushi and not end in a muddle. This colorful restaurant—with a cherry tree blooming with LED blossoms as its centerpiece—delivers via an assortment of eclectically international liquid numbers. The menu from bar manager Jeannine Kapteyn (formerly of Pintxo) includes favorites such as the Sicilian Harvest, with strawberry-infused gin, Averna amaro, Benedictine, lemon, pineapple and aged balsamic vinegar ($10), and the Kurosawa, with sake, apricot liqueur, muddled cucumber, lemon and organic cane sugar ($8). It’s nice to jump a few continents in one evening. 5324 Ballard Ave. NW; 206.971.7424;


An Eastside cocktail mecca, this darkly wooded lounge, nestled in the Chantanee Thai restaurant, has a seasonally changing assortment of drinks from bar manager Jason Saura (late of China Harbor on Westlake) that runs from the classic to the avant-garde, but hits the highest notes in the mixes contained within the Tiki menu. The well-spiced Naga Swizzle is an example that wouldn’t look out of place in 1952: blackstrap rum, Falernum, angostura bitters, Thai chile, pineapple, orange and lime ($10). It’s a swell fit within the Asian-inspired décor. 601 108th Ave. NE; 425.455.3226;