Seattle's Best Bars for Tourists

A quick guide for drinkers far from home.

Nightlife isn't Seattle's strong suit. Liquor laws here border on totalitarian, the weather acts like a manic depressive off his meds, and the city all but shuts down by 2 a.m. But thankfully those factors, however frustrating, fail to deter tourists from trying to have a good time. Many of us know what it's like to be approached by an inebriated group of out-of-towners who, following a few misguided hours wasted (pun intended) at their hotel bar, want to know where they should really go. (And many of us know what it feels like not to have any clue where to send them.) To make the process easier, the following listings break down our city's nightlife options so that everyone—whether they want to grab a well-crafted cocktail with a date or pound tequila shots with a coed—can find a satisfying destination. Cocktails: Zig Zag Café Despite the loss of Playboy and New York Times–profiled celebrity bartender Murray Stenson (who's moved on to the soon-to-open RN74), Zig Zag is still sexy, without pretension, and full of talented mixologists. Other options: Chapel, Hazlewood. Looking for Mr. or Ms. Right Now: Peso's Lust springs eternal at this party spot. The crowd consists of drunk and attractive 20-something singles—meaning it's a breeding ground for hookups. Sure, plenty of other bars in the city are filled with horny people. But only at Peso's are those people so unabashedly upfront about their carnal desires. Other options: Kells, Red Door. Party With Hipsters: The Unicorn Granted, you can party with hipsters in more than 1,738 separate bars in Seattle. (We counted.) But this carnival-themed joint tops them all. There are animal heads on the walls and a jukebox that plays MGMT; it even serves corn dogs, a staple of the irony-rich diet. Other options: Cha Cha Lounge, Linda's Tavern. Party With Australians: Kangaroo & Kiwi Its owners proudly claim it's the only authentic Australian pub in the Pacific Northwest, and work hard to provide expats with a home away from home. More Aussies than you ever knew lived in Seattle gather here to watch rugby, chow down on meat pies, and of course drink plenty of Foster's. (Often, stereotypes are stereotypes because they're true.) Other options: None (again, we counted). Live Music: Neumos One of the city's hippest venues (Drew Barrymore drank here! Lykke Li took her smoke break in the alleyway!), Neumos regularly books eclectic (and excellent) acts spanning all genres. The sound is impeccable, the drinks are stiff, and if you want to skip the opening act, there are several bars within stumbling distance. Other options: The Crocodile, Sunset Tavern. Boys' Night Out: The Ballroom A year-round outdoor drinking patio in Fremont with a massive fireplace, pool tables, big-screen HDTVs, and even bigger New York–style pizzas, The Ballroom is the ultimate man cave. Yet unlike most man caves, on weekends it attracts cute 20-something girls. Also: The dance floor has a cage and pole. Other options: Ballard Loft, Fuel. Girls' Night Out: Pnk Ultra Lounge Had Sex and the City been set in Seattle, Carrie Bradshaw and company would have chosen Pnk as their cosmo-swilling hot spot. Situated on the top floor of Pacific Place overlooking the city, this dance club and lounge is soaked in pretty pink lights, pop music, and patrons in sequined dresses sipping saccharine-sweet cocktails. Other options: Citrus, Twist. Gay Night Out: The Cuff Most of the gay clubs on Capitol Hill have been infiltrated by those dastardly heterosexuals, but The Cuff remains largely breeder-free and is Seattle's biggest "bear" bar. Standout features include an onsite S&M sex shop, a sizable dance floor, and conversation-starting art, e.g., "What's with the painting of the lion having sex with the dude?" Other options: Pony, R Place.

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