Seattle's Best Classic Cocktails

For a city enamored with microbrews and local wine, Seattle also boasts an extensive cocktail scene. Beloved local spots like Zig Zag Cafe pride themselves on artful drinks that change with the seasons, but a new generation of lounges embrace cocktails from bygone decades. Some are speakeasy-inspired, with hidden doorways and limited reservations. Others simply revel in mixing Manhattans, brandy Alexander and other classic cocktails. Here are some of Seattle's newest and best destinations for classic cocktails. (Photo: Backdoor at Roxy's Photo by John Cornicello)

Updated: September 13, 2011

Classic Cocktails in Seattle

Bathtub Gin & Co.

2205 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA 98121

A purposefully nondescript entrance in a Belltown alleyway leads to a tiny bi-level bar that used to be a boiler room. Now it's one of the best craft cocktail bars in Seattle. The list of classic cocktails is impressive, as is the library of alcohol-themed literature. However, those in the know simply state their preferences to the bartender and let themselves be surprised.

Tavern Law

1406 12th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122

Inside Capitol Hill cocktail destination Tavern Law you'll find a semi-secret bar-within-a-bar. To access Needle & Thread, arrive at Tavern Law and use an old-fashioned phone to gain passage up the narrow stairwell. This place prides itself on not having a cocktail menu; just tell the bartender what spirits and other drink elements you like, sit back, and be impressed with the tenders' old-fashioned skills.

Knee High Stocking

1356 E Olive Way, Seattle, WA 98122

Not only does this Prohibition-inspired lounge keep its entrance low-profile, but the only way to make a reservation is by text message. While the setup sounds unbearably pretentious, Knee High is as friendly and relaxed as any local watering hole. Book a seat several days in advance so you can enjoy a classic concoction like the brandy Alexander, made with brandy, creme de menthe, heavy cream and, as the menu specifies, a ?long hard shake.?

Roxy's Deli

462 N 36th St, Seattle, WA 98103

The owner of Roxy's Diner took over the former video store behind his restaurant and turned it into a speakeasy-style supper club. The drink list is filled with Prohibition-era cocktails such as the rum and pineapple juice-based Mary Pickford, inspired by the 1920s movie star. The entrance, accessed from a drab parking lot, opens up to a wildly elaborate interior, filled with statues, murals and other eye-catching elements.


928 12th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122

While the entrance certainly isn't hidden, this new cocktail bar is filled with Prohibition memorabilia, from 1920s-era ?medicinal? liquor bottles to framed newspapers from the day the law was repealed. The bar specializes in brown liquor classics, boasting a staggering menu of 100 drinks and an enormous selection of spirits. Order the ever-changing ?personal cocktail,? which comes in a glass flask bearing Canon's logo.