Prohibition may have ended more than 80 years ago, but the allure of the forbidden remains strong in Seattle. Today the city sports a number of speakeasy-style bars that pay homage to their 1920s predecessors with cozy atmospheres and a focus on artistic cocktails.
In Belltown, Bathtub Gin & Co. (2205 Second Ave; bathtubginseattle.com) sits tucked away in an alley. Snag a spot at the bar to order from the extensive gin menu or to watch the mixologists work their magic. Around the block, The Upstairs (2209 Second Ave;
theupstairsseattle.com) features a parlor-like ambiance with gilded mirrors and intimate seating arrangements, complemented by craft cocktails topped with perfectly curlicued zests.
To get into Knee High Stocking Co. (1356 E Olive Way; kneehighstocking.com) in Capitol Hill, text 206-979-7049 for a reservation beforehand, then ring the lighted doorbell. Amid dark blue walls and flickering candlelight, order a plate of spicy Knee High Tots and get down to the business of choosing what to imbibe from the rotating cocktail list. Also in the neighborhood, Needle & Thread (1406 12th Ave; tavernlaw.com) is hidden on top of Tavern Law (a great cocktail spot in its own right). Call in using the black rotary phone on the wall before entering through the bank vault door. At the top of the stairs, you’ll find an intimate space with no menu—you only need to give the bartender a base alcohol and an adjective to have a bespoke drink concocted.
In Pioneer Square, you’ll notice the artisan wares inside E. Smith Mercantile (208 First Ave S; esmithmercantile.com), but you might not immediately spot the small, charming bar in the back, which uses unique ingredients like fir tip tincture and black pepper vodka to delight drinkers.
For some sustenance to go along with your sipping, The Backdoor at Roxy’s (462 N 36th St; backdooratroxys.com) offers a menu of small plates to pair with its drinks, like the Hot Charlotte, made with gin, St. Germain, lemon, cucumber, and Tabasco for a biting finish. There’s no password or secret handshake, but the soaring ceilings, colorful murals, and angel statues sprinkled throughout make it feel like a hidden gem just the same.