Alongside presents, mistletoe, getting a few days off work, and the bottles Santa might put in your stocking, the finest part of the holidays is getting to catch up with family. And, of course, the best place to catch up is a great bar. However, it can be a challenge to pick a suitable watering hole for the right vacationing relative—which is why I’ve put together a little tailored guide to help smooth out your holiday season, matching specific relative types with specific bars.
The Literary Uncle
Rumba (Capitol Hill, 1112 Pike Street, 206.583.7177). If your uncle’s one who’ll toss off Hemingway quotes and stories as if they were his own, has more than a passing familiarity with Fitzgerald, and tends to buy you paperback classics, take him up to Capitol Hill’s new rum and rhum haven. The sea blue barstools, the massive selection of Caribbean bottles, and the multiple Daiquiri options (I suggest #3, with rum, maraschino, lime, grapefruit, and sugar) will awe him into breaking away from lecturing on today’s lack of literary lions.
The Recently Legal Cousin
Liberty (Capitol Hill, 517 15th Avenue East 206.323.9898). There’s nowhere like Liberty to start a beginner on the path to drinking well (as in, with moderation and discerning taste). Its inviting, un-threatening, fun atmosphere will keep them calm, and the bartenders are friendly and fine teachers, with dandy ideas for starter cocktails for particular tastes. Say your youngish cousin likes a little citrus and a little bitter, but doesn’t want to get too wacky. They’ll probably suggest the Antoine’s, with vodka, lemon juice, Peychaud’s bitters, pressed rosemary and lemon peel.
The International Traveling Sister
The Golden Beetle (Ballard, 1744 NW Market St., 206.706.2977). Ballard may not seem “exotic” enough for that globe-trotting sibling, the one who may just like to talk a wee bit much about her travels. When she sits down and takes a sip of one of the intriguing and intercontinental cocktails here though, such as That Sweet Nectar, which combines gin, Italian aperitif Cocchi Americano, absinthe, house-made plum bitters, and a cucumber slice, she’ll be instantly enthralled. The Mediterranean-inspired cuisine should also be a hit.
The Barely-Known Third Cousin
Vessel (Downtown, 624 Olive Way, 206.623.3325). When the holidays roll around, often you end up entertaining a relative you may not have seen for years—or ever. Naturally, you’ll want to blow their mind with your bar choice. Vessel lets you show off without seeming showy, with its rotating cast of bartenders, wild ice machine, vast array of homemade ingredients, and cocktails like Bryn Lumsden’s Phantom Cowboy: Herencia reposado tequila, dry curaçao, French aperitif Byrrh, and grapefruit juice. The fact that the bar’s in the heart of touristy downtown and maintains a welcoming stylishness makes it even more ideal.
Your Mystery-Addicted Grandmother
Rob Roy (Belltown, 2332 2nd Avenue, 206.956.8423). It’s hard to pull certain grandmothers and grandfathers away from their latest thrilling read, which tends to be from Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler, or somewhere in between (I hope to be the same way). A surefire way to bring them out is to take them to this lounge that’s straight out of a Perry Mason episode from 1954. The bar’s devotion to lesser known classic cocktails, such as Beadletown Special with Scotch, Fino sherry, and Benedictine, goes nicely alongside classic whodunits as well.