Dandy Outdoor Cocktailing Spots

A.J. Rathbun
Order up a rummy concoction at Belltown's Innkeeper

As we bask in a nearly unprecedented stretch of amazing weather (it feels like we’ve had pretty swell temps since May and that we missed “June-uaray” altogether), it’s best to have a good handle on some fine outdoor cocktail spots. While the backyard is nice, sometimes you want to get out and let someone else do the shaking. Also, these are great spots to take out-of-town visitors who must experience Seattle’s wonderful summer.

The Zig Zag Café: Because it has such a downtown vibe, hiding below the market, people sometimes overlook the fact that the Zig Zag (1501 Western Ave #202) is one of the premier cocktail spots in town and has a deck for sipping under the sunlight. The happy hour prices for cocktails can’t be beat ($6 or $7 in most cases), and while you won’t get to watch the bartenders in action, they’ll still be making your drinks with care. I like to go old school when at Zig Zag for some reason (probably because I know they do old school right), and order a Manhattan or an Old Fashioned. Ask the bartender to pick the whiskey. They never steer you wrong.

La Isla: There are two of these, a new one in Redmond and one in Ballard (2320 NW Market Street). The latter is an ideal place to order up a mighty Mojito ($8) or another rummy favorite and people watch because the deck is right on the middle of Market Street. After a while I’d suggest ordering up some Papa Empandillas (garlicky mashed potatoes with mozz done turnover style, $7) to go with the drinks--all the people watching works up an appetite.

The Innkeeper: A hidden gem in Belltown, you’ll need to cut through the main restaurant to discover the back patio of the Innkeeper (2510 1st Avenue). It’s a welcome, bright and fairly secluded respite from the bustle outside, and a fine spot to hit after work or on a Saturday afternoon. To keep in line with the slightly Latin personality of the place, order yourself a refreshing classic from Barbados: the Corn n’ Oil ($9). Its combination of Black Strap rum, Falernum (a lime and gingery liqueur) and fresh lime will have you dreaming of the islands. 

The Gainsborough: The outdoor seating here (8550 Greenwood Avenue North) may not be expansive, and you may not get exactly the same French-esque feel outside as inside, but there’s something lovely about the small outdoor seating space cordoned off by a short wrought-iron railing. It’s a one-of-a-kind ambiance in downtown Greenwood, and one that’s accented nicely by a Versailles #2 ($10), which mingles Cognac, grapefruit juice, Lillet, Aperol and orange bitters.