Hotel bars have come a long way in the past few years. Before, most seemed to either be places of refuge for weary business professionals, traveling and drinking as a partyofone, while others were pumping music like a trendy dance club. But now things are changing and even though some are still only good for serving basic gin and tonics or a whiskey on the rocks, others are creating bar programs that match the city’s cocktail culture. And hotel bars are generally open during the hours that other cocktail lounges are just prepping their ingredients. Possible day drinking opportunities ahead!
Recently in downtown Seattle, I uncovered a few new places as well as was reminded of some solid hotel cocktail bars that are absolutely worth checking out. And it you imbibe a bit too enthusiastically , you could always check in for the night!
Newest to the scene is Pennyroyal inside the just opened Kimpton Palladian Hotel. The bar has a slight European vibe with dark wood walls and ceilings, marbled table tops, and lots of pretty glassware. Some of their original cocktails use Seattle local spirits , while others are a good riff on classics. All have curious names —Dream Unicorn, Red Headed Stepchild— and are served with a bit of flourish. I couldn't help but order the Say Hi To Your Mother For Me, its blend of duck fatwashed rum, citrus, egg white, amaro , and bitters was so intriguing! And if you are like me, always running around with a dying phone battery, Pennyroyal has electrical outlets under the benches of most of their booths. So charge away and order a second!
Kimpton Hotels score again with their Bookstore Bar at the Hotel Alexis. This is the place to check in to if you are a whisk (e)y aficionado, or plan to become one. Bookstore stocks over 130 different whisk (e)ys from all around the world. Besides offering the aged brown beauties, the bar does a nice job with the classics — Manhattans, Negronis, Moscow Mules — and you can save a few bucks during their twice daily Happy Hour. Don’t drink alone, be sure to order the bar’s popcorn of the day, recent flavors were Sriracha and also Movie Theater. Other dining options are solid choices as well with the Chef being James Beard Award winner Caprial Pence.
Entering the Hotel Andre’s lobby, you notice the high ceilinged room complete with fireplace, Scandinavian inspired furniture, and stairs leading up to a little loft area . At the top of the stairs you’ll find the Andra Bar, featuring wellmade cocktails using aquavit, mezcal, gin , and the like . The menu includes original drinks such as the Phyllis Diller (local aquavit, vermouth, Chartreuse. lemon, and dill) as well as a few classic such as the Rob Roy (Scotch, sweet vermouth, and bitters). You and your drink will have a view of busy 3rd Avenue as well as the hotel living room below ; all sorts of good people watching! Food is provided by Lola, Tom Douglas’ restaurant that is connected on the ground floor. Also upstairs is the Hot Stove Society, where you can sign up for cooking classes by Douglas’ team.
Finally , Loulay Kitchen and Bar, inside the downtown Sheraton Hotel, is where to get your dose of swank. The restaurant is owned by Seattle’s famous French ‘Chef in the Hat’ Thierry Rautureau . Sitting just away from the main twotiered restaurant, the bar is a great spot for pre/post shows or just as an after work treat. The menu is a well thought out collection of original cocktails highlight interesting amari and liquors, and of course they are using French ones when they can! Expect posh bar bites here like Dungeness crab fritters, terrine of foie gras , and frites served with amazing aioli.
Written by Wendy Miller