The Whisky Bar in downtown Seattle has evolved from a dive bar into a place that offers an extensive listing of premium liquors and craft beers.

Share story

Happy Hour |

The Whisky Bar in downtown Seattle was a dive bar without the charm of a good dive bar, a Miller-and-PBR guzzling joint where Moore Theatre goers would cross the street to kill time before a show. Usually, a few would look horrified upon entering. At least that’s my recollection of people-watching at the place six years ago.

In the last two and a half years it has evolved into an excellent bar with 400 single malts, bourbons and ryes plus one of the best craft-beer lineups in town. Classic cocktails are featured now.

No other bar in Seattle has done such a major overhaul of its booze program in such a short time under the same ownership. Eight years ago, owners and brothers Brian and Colin Pickering, from England, opened the bar, hawking cheap, domestic beer, thinking that was the easy way to make a buck.

But Brian said they realize now you can’t do that in a city with such a good craft brewery scene.

They now feature a 10-page menu of bottled beers from around the world and a 10-page menu of whiskys from countries such as India.

The 12 rotating beers on tap are what most patrons come for — local brews and cult brands. They go through kegs so fast it’s pointless to single out any beer they currently feature. But you can count on at least a third of the draft beers to be IPAs. Two brews to keep an eye on: By the end of this week, they will have Pliny the Elder from Russian River Brewing Company, one of the best double IPAs in America, and during the last week of October, the pumpkin ale from Southern Tier Brewing Company.

The bar is connected to a gyro stand, Kebob, where you can order food and have it delivered to your seat. Food ranges from $5-$7.

The Whisky Bar got a little face-lift — new wood panels, better lighting and hanging art work from local artists. It may look underwhelming to first-timers. But anyone who remembers the old Whisky Bar will notice a difference.

The Whisky Bar, 2000 Second Ave., offers happy hour daily 4-7 p.m. $1 off on draft beer, $5 house wine, Manhattan and Martini (206-443-4490 or

Tan Vinh: