Three Drinks In: Seattle, Washington

Cocktails expert Paul Clarke shares his favorite places to imbibe in the Emerald City.

Courtesy Canon

Paul Clarke is a drinks geek from way back. In 2005, he launched a blog, The Cocktail Chronicles, to document the new mixological renaissance, his own beverage experiments and his efforts to rediscover lost classic cocktails and ingredients. The site built an audience of like-minded enthusiasts and launched a new career for Clarke as a booze writer.

In the subsequent decade, Clarke became a leading voice in the cocktail community, publishing a Cocktail Chronicles book in 2015, and picking up drinks-writing awards from both Tales of the Cocktail and the International Association of Culinary Professionals.

Today, Clarke is the executive editor at Imbibe and continues to chronicle the latest happenings in the liquor world from his home in Seattle. Here are his favorite drinks to enjoy in that Pacific Northwest metropolis.

The Tramp at Canon

One big advantage of living in Seattle is being near Canon, which boasts the best spirits selection in the Western Hemisphere. Clarke says he tries to stop in at least once a week for a “quality check” at this spot that carries well in excess of 3,000 different bottles, which are stacked floor-to-ceiling everywhere, including in the bathroom. Proprietor Jamie Boudreau’s cocktails generally lean toward mad science, utilizing centrifuges and liquid nitrogen and other high-tech techniques, but Clarke’s choice here is fairly simple: It’s a mix of sloe gin, apricot liqueur and lime juice, topped with sparkling wine. Appropriately to Clarke’s tastes, it’s actually a twist on an obscure Prohibition-era classic called the Charlie Chaplin.

Agricole Swizzle at Rumba

As you might infer from the name, Rumba, is a rum bar. And quite a rum bar it is, with more than 400 varieties of the liquor. It “scratches Seattle’s itch for sugar-cane spirits,” says Clarke. While “the Daiquiri and its descendants are the stock-in-trade here,” he instead goes for the refreshing Agricole Swizzle that calls for the funky rhum agricole, vermouth, pineapple syrup, lime and lots of ice. The bar has more of a relaxed island vibe than a kitschy tiki one, and you shouldn’t miss the Caribbean-inflected food like pepperpot chicken and a Cuban sandwich.

West Coast IPA at Standard Brewing

There must be something about being close to the Pacific Ocean that breeds a love for super-hoppy beers. The West Coast from San Diego to Seattle produces lots of great IPAs, but this one is Clarke’s favorite, coming from a brewery with a tiny taproom that just happens to be in his own neighborhood. “You can’t go wrong picking at random from Standard’s constantly changing beer menu,” he says. “but when in doubt, opt for Standard’s best-seller, which delivers a satisfying hops-driven punch and has a mild, bittersweet balance.”

Check out our complete Three Drinks travel guide to cocktails.