Winter isn’t that bad in Seattle. But after a beautiful summer, all we want to do is hibernate and listen to Evanescence albums until it’s warm out again. To combat our very real seasonal depression, we gulp down vitamin D supplements and hang out at comforting bars until the sun stops setting at 4pm. These spots check all of the “cozy bar” boxes: they have the Feel Good Factor™, great drinks, friendly people, some dimly-lit moodiness, and, if we’re lucky, a living room set or a plush cushion or two. These are the best 12 cozy bars in Seattle, and they work for any time of the year - but especially when it’s rainy and cold.
White Horse Trading Company is the coziest bar we know. You’ve probably walked right past it every time you bring an out-of-towner to Pike Place and walk through Post Alley. Next time, stop in for a drink. The walls and ceiling are completely covered in old photos, paintings, umbrellas, dusty shelves, metal decals, and the occasional birdcage with a can of spam inside. After finding a red velvet sofa to lounge on, order from a menu that’s literally just sharpie written on a slab of cardboard. It lists things like Irish whiskey, lemonade, and a creation called “Bulls Blood” which is 50% port, 50% dry champagne, and 100% what you want. Stop in here on a weekend with some friends and it’ll be way more fun than anywhere on Capitol Hill.
We can all agree that drinking wine in your apartment is about as cozy as it gets, but drinking at Bottlehouse somehow feels cozier. This little house in Madrona serves an excellent lineup of wine, from Riesling slushies to a long bottle list of natural wines. If you’re interested in snacking, let their in-house cheesemonger curate a charcuterie spread for you. They also have a back garden open in the summer that has a bunch of blankets that you can use to wrap yourself into a cocoon.
If Unicorn on Cap Hill took a chill pill and grew up a little bit, the result would be The Velvet Elk - a two-story neighborhood spot in Mount Baker. This place is perfect for a low-key weeknight hang: there’s colorful black-lit wall art, excellent cocktails, comfortable living room furniture, and cans of Pringles and boxes of Cracker Jacks for snacking. They even have some decks of cards if you want to challenge your friends to a game of Egyptian Rat Screw while you have a couple of drinks.
This spot in Greenwood lives up to its name - between the smell of warm nuts, the secluded wooden booths, and general moody darkness, this is a quality spot for any winter night. And it’s not just a dive bar with beer and cashews - they serve DIY charcuterie plates including things like duck rillettes, smoked salmon, and chevre.
Picture this: you’re in a comfortable treehouse, reading a good book, and drinking a pint of beer. You’re also probably wearing your favorite sweatshirt too. This fantasy doesn’t have to be just a daydream - The Dray is a real beer bar that was designed to make you feel like you’re having IPA in a hollowed-out oak. It’s always calm in here despite how small it is, and the selection on tap includes interesting local breweries like Iron Horse and North Coast. And they make toasted sandwiches if you get hungry.
Being cozy doesn’t mean that you have to keep things casual. Needle & Thread is a fantastic, dimly-lit speakeasy with classy parlor furniture that’s romantic enough for an important date. There’s no drink menu - all you do is tell the bartender exactly what you’re in the mood for (and even more importantly, what you’re not), they jot down some notes, walk away, and return with the best cocktail you’ve had all year. Just make sure that you order the cheddar corn cracklins with serrano fondue - it’s like the upgraded version of having chips and dip in bed.
The Sitting Room is a dark Queen Anne bar where you can drink spritzes and pop olives and truffled almonds like they’re M&Ms. The bartenders are friendly, and we could subsist for weeks on potato chips and their homemade onion dip. The best part about this place is that you can have a few different types of nights here based on where you sit - there are soft sofas in the back, the bar feels like a library desk (in a good way), and a row of candlelit tables would definitely work for a date.
You can find both funky organic wine and vinyl records at Left Bank, a chill wine bar in South Park that exclusively pours natural bottles. It feels like a basement (in the best way), and we could spend hours hanging out here playing roulette with the interesting bottles sourced anywhere from Slovenia to Long Island. They don’t serve food, but you’re encouraged to bring in a burger from Loretta’s Northwesterner across the street.
Damn The Weather understands that few things are more comforting than sitting at a bar with a bowl of pasta and a cocktail while it’s raining buckets outside. This spot is for sure the coziest place in Pioneer Square, and is best experienced with a date or a couple of friends who’ll share some chicken-fat fries with you.
This bar is on a street full of old houses, and you might be sad that you’re not hanging out inside one of them. If you really want to visit one of these houses, don’t trespass - just grab a drink at The Maple. Located inside an old house on Roosevelt, this bar will make you feel right at home with a fireplace, a popcorn ceiling, and antique framed maps on the wall. Sit at the bar and get a White Russian, or some fish and chips if you want something to snack on.
A smoked Moscow mule topped with pine leaves and a torched marshmallow is enough to get The Nook on this list. But besides that delicious drink, the inside of this bar feels like a backyard shed that was recently renovated on HGTV. It’s a two-story bar covered in wood and cushioned benches, and the second floor is an attic-like situation with a fireplace and mismatched armchairs and loveseats. Sip your creme de violette cocktail on a sofa that feels like it belongs in the 1930’s and you’ll feel cozy in no time.
The long marble counter at Baker’s is usually packed like a sardine tin, and there’s a good chance if you turn your head you’ll accidentally give the stranger next to you the most awkward Eskimo kiss of all time. But that’s part of the fun. Pair the excellent cocktails here with small plates like baguettes, charcuterie, cheeses, and sweets like a nutella pot de creme.