The Watering Hole: Cozy Inn Tavern, 6215 Bothell Way N.E., 425-486-4321, KENMORE
The Atmosphere: The Cozy Inn Tavern sits quietly on a busy strip of Highway 522 (aka Bothell Way), all but ignored by the cars and buses streaming past on the evening commute. Its neighbors include carpet shops, travel agents, hair salons, and fast-food restaurants. The low-slung wood building doesn't promise much, but inside it's surprisingly . . . cozy. Beer signs cover every inch of wall (and ceiling), and there is a deck overlooking the Burke-Gilman trail and the North Lake Marina. The after-work crowd is laid-back—some shoot pool for 50 cents a game, others play pull tabs and pinball, others relax in the padded pleather chairs and booths that fill the room. Occasionally someone will pony up for a few songs on the jukebox, but otherwise the room is filled with the light banter among patrons, as everyone sips their drinks.
The Barkeep: Tina has been behind the bar here for 23 years. She knows most of the patrons, many of whom are regulars, and a lot about the history of Kenmore and "The Cozy," where drinks have been served since 1937. The building dates back to the early '30s, when it first housed Henry's Hamburgers. The area was popular during Prohibition, when Seattle residents could take ferries up the lake or drive up the red brick road, paved in 1913. More than 30 bars, clubs, and restaurants filled the area, many serving illegal alcohol. Authorities generally turned a blind eye to these establishments, and even if a bust was attempted, booze could be dumped in the lake or hidden if boats were seen approaching. Just down the road, below an old building, a tunnel was found that continued underneath the highway. There's even a hidden door in a compressor room underneath The Cozy, but Tina said it's too scary down there for further exploration.
The Drink: The Cozy is a tavern, so beer and wine are your only options. That isn't a bad thing, since taps include local micros like Boundary Bay IPA in addition to dive-bar favorites such as PBR. Wine is surprisingly popular, according to Tina. It's just Charles Shaw by the glass, but splits of Cava are available. I put myself in Tina's hands, but alluded to my craving for a beer. She grabbed a frosty pint glass from the chill chest and poured me a Jubelale, the annual winter beer from Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon. I asked Tina why she chose that particular beer, and she replied that it just seemed right on a dark, stormy night. "It's cozy," she said. Indeed.
The Verdict: For an after-work pint or two, The Cozy is all a girl could ask for in a tavern. Happy hour (Mon.–Fri., 3–7 p.m.) features pints for $3, and food options are limited to landjäger, beer nuts, and select sandwiches, pizzas, and snacks, most of which are warmed in the toaster oven or microwave. But pitchers are $9 to $12, which makes a trip to this bar in the former drinking capital of the Seattle area a worthwhile trip.