Seattle’s Speakeasy-Style Bars


It’s Saturday night. You’re dressed to the nines. You’ve got a whistle to wet and not just any drink will do the trick. You need something strong, something sophisticated. You need a cocktail. So, you step out into the rainy streets of Seattle, confidant that your unique know-how can take you where you need to go. You slip into an alley adorned with torn posters of by-gone burlesque acts. You stop in front of an unmarked door that looks like it hasn’t been opened in ages, glancing over your shoulder to make sure you weren’t followed. When you ring the bell, a face gazes out to assess if you’re all right. A quick nod and you’re in.

It’s just a quick jaunt down an unassuming hallway and you’ve finally arrived. A warm, cozy room with bottles on the wall, a magician of a mixologist ready to serve and the comfort of knowing that none of the riff-raff will be joining you tonight. Either it’s 1930 and you’ve just found your way to a proper speakeasy or it’s 2010 and you know how to get to one of Seattle’s best, most hidden bars.

Perhaps you’ve ventured into a quiet corner of Capitol Hill and used your foreknowledge of the esoteric method of entry to nab a seat at The Knee High Stocking Company. There’s no sign, the door was locked and the windows were all dark, but your dapper appearance and polite demeanor got you out of the rain. The only question now is whether you’d like to sip on one of the bar’s excellent Happy Hour punch concoctions (be the first to order one and you’ll get to name it) or if you’re in the mood for a classic cocktail like the stinging Widow’s Kiss or the gingery Dark & Stormy. While you’re at it you might as well indulge in a plate of Lamb Mini Burgers served with fresh pepper and dressed in mango chutney.

Of course, you may have actually ducked into Post Alley to find The Pink Door Cabaret. It’s a sophisticated joint for the literal-minded aesthete. Word has it you just look for the big, pink door recessed into an otherwise unremarkable building, follow the signs through the hallway and down the stairs to catch a stimulating stage show and a stiff drink. Enjoy some house wine or a seasonal cocktail while you dig into a Crème Brulee made fresh for you.

If you didn’t get as far as Post Alley, you were probably drawn to the vibrations under your feet at Pike Place Market where you followed the sounds to The Can-Can. While munching on a delightfully unusual Toulouse Pizzette with grapes, walnuts and caramelized onion, you no doubt caught the other patron’s whispers about that European vice called Absinthe. How were you to know you were sitting among the city’s largest collection of the stuff? Tempted, as many have been, by the Green Fairy, you indulged in its anisette spark while watching a lively performance on the nearby stage. You could see people pass above you through the glass imbedded in the sidewalk, unaware of the unique experience just below their feet.

Though you may have gone someplace else entirely. Inquiring minds want to know: Where did you disappear to on that rainy Saturday night in Seattle?

Punch and Company at The Knee High.   Photo: Michael Sarko

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