Seattle has lots of different types of bars. There are spots with loud music, arcade games, and drinks that either taste like melted popsicles or gasoline. There are spots that serve beer and look like your friend’s basement. Then there are spots that might be better for a drink with your parents: busy but not too loud or crowded, with a good variety of quality things to drink (and ideally also some much-better-than-average snacks). Head to one of these spots and make the folks proud.
Want to thank your parents for all the stupid sh*t they had to sit through during your childhood, like the time you played “Young Cashew” in your kindergarten play? Make a reservation and buy them a round of meticulously-made cocktails at Canon. Even if your parents are usually beer-and-wine-only people, they deserve to drink something amazing from this place’s encyclopedic menu, because they could probably write an encyclopedic chronicle of all the things you did to annoy them as a child. You owe them this.
If wine is at all important to your parents, resist the urge to be swallowed whole by Purple Cafe and head to Bottlehouse instead. Not only is this charming bar-in-a-renovated-house our favorite place in Seattle to drink wine, but the staff is also super friendly and knowledgeable about things like grapes and terrain and malolactic fermentation without making you feel like an idiot for not being equally informed. If it’s chilly, stay inside and do some flights, but if the weather is nice, you’re going to want to hang out in the garden with a round of frozen wine cocktails. No matter where you sit, getting charcuterie and cheeses from the resident cheesemonger is necessary.
A bright little seafood and produce market that doubles as an oyster bar serving wine and beer. It doesn’t get too busy in here, so you can enjoy drinks along with snacks like smoked fish crostini and charcuterie in peace. Bonus points if you pick out some groceries and offer to cook your parents dinner.
The best beer-drinking spot in the city. This place is perfect for pretty much anyone - including your parents and even their dogs. Spread out on a picnic table with some delicious IPAs or Randalls, plus free pretzels or snacks you brought from the outside world.
Dead Line is a sleek cocktail spot in Pioneer Square with a bottle collection so extensive they need a massive ladder to get to the top-shelf stuff. The South American small plates, like braised brisket arepas, are great, and there’s even a special champagne bar you can make a reservation for. Not a terrible idea for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or another special occasion, like the 15th anniversary of that one time you actually cleaned your room without complaining.
Needle & Thread is more than a speakeasy. It’s an experience. OK, that sounds like a weak marketing slogan, but what we mean is that drinking at this place is both cool and relatively involved. First, you make a reservation online. Then, you enter through Tavern Law (another bar we like) and pick up the vintage phone in the back corner. Once you speak to the person on the other end of the line, a door will unlock. Go through it and up some stairs to an antique parlor with an expert bartender who will make you something delicious based on whatever you like - there’s no menu. Your reservation lasts one hour per cocktail (kind of like a parking meter in bar form), so assess your parents’ patience/thirst levels prior to visiting.
A very attractive little French spot with seafoam green and white chevron tile, a big marble bar, and gold accents. Plus small plates like steak tartare, fresh oysters, fried fish skins, and fries with aioli - and you’d do well to get the burger and split it. Families share, after all.
Mr. Darcy’s doesn’t get a ton of traffic, and we don’t know why - the cocktails here are incredible. There are also a few different seating arrangements in the vintage-style space, like a posh living room set next to an antique piano, and some benches with bistro tables. We particularly like the Fish House Punch with cognac and peach liqueur as well as the “Love” cocktail with gin, passionfruit, tea, lemon, sour cherry, and an aquafaba foam made from chickpea water. Sure, your mom might think aquafaba was the name of an early 2000s techno band you used to listen to on your Walkman - but to be honest, that sounds plausible enough.
A low-key spot to kill a couple of hours with a cider, beer, or glass of wine. We like it even better inside if it’s raining out - it adds to the overall allure and coziness of this place. The Noble Fir also works well if you’re trying to hang out with your friends but your parents want to join you. Camp out in a big wooden booth and laugh at the water falling from the sky (until it’s time to go back outside and deal with it).
There are plenty of fancy occasions you might want your parents around for. Celebrating an engagement. Graduation. Mom’s retirement. M Bar is a pretty great spot to have a drink for any of those things. It’s a swanky rooftop situation, so expect a big to-do with riding up an elevator, walking down a comically long hallway, and finally being seated in this beautiful space with a view of South Lake Union (plus an outdoor balcony bar with swing chairs). Any cocktail or glass of wine here will be good, and snacks range from cauliflower and fava bean hummus to polenta with mushroom ragu. Be sure to make a reservation.
Pike/Pike may not be the first place you think to bring your parents, unless you’re bringing them to Bar Ferdinand, a wine bar with string lights, specials scribbled on chalkboards, a big wood oven, and bottles available for sale. On Wednesdays they do a $5 wine tasting, and their bar snacks are always tasty, whether you go for cured meat with homemade bread or some kind of local cheese with plum jam.
If your parents are history buffs, they’ll be pleased to know that Good Bar is in the shell of an old bank - original vault door and all. Aside from that, this place has plenty of stylish tile decorations, big tables, and great drinks - like the Vanity Fair, with Aperol, local cranberry juice, and a citrusy shrub. Add some meats and cheeses for best results.
For dinner, we’d recommend Spinasse, but their sister bar next door, Artusi, works perfectly for some cocktails of the Italian persuasion or a nice glass of wine alongside small plates like meatballs, toasted hazelnuts, and artisanal cheese. Not only that, but they always have bowls of fresh pasta available - and this is some serious pasta, so it wouldn’t be weird to have a full meal here if you can’t bring yourselves to get up and go elsewhere.
Your parents had to choose between a tropical family vacation and coming to visit you in Seattle, the rain capital of the world. Buy them a drink (and some tropical small plates) at Rumba to make up for it. Grab a booth and order some tiki rum punches along with a round of empanadas and fish tacos. Cheers.