Between inflation, liquor taxes and Seattle rent costs–not to mention a globe’s worth of high-end spirits available–it’s no wonder cocktail prices are going up. Some ultra-premium cocktails are rising into the monetary stratosphere (or at least north of the $15 mark).
But that doesn’t mean dandy cocktails and highballs aren’t available at a fraction of the cost. These 10 tasty drinks will set you back less than a sawbuck. And these are all non-happy hour prices, too!
Teacher’s Lounge: Ed Rooney ($9)
A Greenwood favorite, Teacher’s boasts perhaps the best overall drink prices in town. Nearly every drink is under $10 and made with care, consistency and good ingredients. But if you only can have one, go with the rich and superb Ed Rooney (named for the character from Ferris Buller’s Day Off). It starts with blended Scotch–finding whiskey drinks to go on this list isn’t easy–matching it with herbal amaro Cynar, Lillet blanc, almond-y orgeat and whiskey barrel-aged bitters.
Bar Abajo: Sangria ($8)
The actual ingredients in this take on the traditional wine drink rotate with the seasons, but you can count on plenty of fresh fruit, a drier nature than many sloppy, cloying sangrias and usually some bubbly Spanish cava on top. It’s an ideal sunny afternoon sipper.
Pablo y Pablo: Fair Winds Gin and Tonic ($9)
With the G&T craze in full swing, it’s nice to have a lower-priced version without sacrificing flavor. This uses Argentinian Apostoles gin (whose botanicals include peppermint, eucalyptus, pink grapefruit skin, and yerba mate), grapefruit and East Imperial grapefruit tonic to bring a lively hit into port in Wallingford.
Rocco’s: A Drink Called Action ($9)
Set up the “Action” with a slice of the Belltown spot’s tasty pizza, which can run as low as $3, and you have a fine light pairing. With the drink’s arrangement of “spice berry” vodka, lemon, orange and ginger, I’m not sure what the ideal slice pairing would be. Cheese is safe, but where’s the fun in being safe?
Oddfellows: Ode to St. Anne ($9)
A poetic sparkling wine cocktail from the Capitol Hill stalwart, this combines bubbly, gin, crème de violette, and lemon. It’s delicate and elegant nature proves that Champagne dreams on a tighter budget are actually available, and it goes down easy after a reading at Elliot Bay next door.
Damn the Weather: Calvados and Tonic ($9)
An amazing pre-meal aperitif from the Pioneer Square cocktail stars and a perfect union, the Calvados and tonic demonstrates that sometimes simplicity is welcome and wonderful. Light, but full of flavorful undercurrents, be warned: it could easily become your favorite drink of fall (or of the whole year).
Batch Bar: Old Negroni ($8)
Italian all-star the Negroni has blasted into immense popularity over the last five or so years, with many odd variants and pricey choices. But at the Interbay bar (next to the Batch 206 Distillery), they only slightly alter the formula, using Old Tom gin instead of a classic London dry with broVo Jammy vermouth, Campari. Like a traditional Italian café, it keeps the cost low.
Alchemy: Crown Jewel ($9)
Coming off of the low-proof section of their menu (the slight wave of lower-proof options is a welcome addition to the bar scene), this shining mixture has San Francisco-based St. George Spirits’ bitter, citrus and herbal aperitif Bruto Americano, plus elderflower liqueur St-Germain and lemon, all carbonated and bottled in house.
Oliver’s Twist: Bullseye ($9)
Making swell drinks on Phinney Ridge for many years, Oliver’s Twist is an excellent neighborhood spot: comfortable, reliable and friendly. But even if you don’t live nearby, make the trip to order up this treat. Its mingling of tequila, lemon, mint, Italian citrusy and barely bitter Aperol, agave nectar and ginger beer is right on target.
Corvus and Co.: Gimlet ($9)
I’m always happy to see the classic (if a bit under-represented) Gimlet on a menu, and without the extra dollars tacked on like an excessive garnish. You can go vodka or gin here (I say gin, but follow your instincts) to accompany the lime and simple syrup, but either way the slight tang and sweetness play together flawlessly.