If you are anything like me, the last four months of social distancing/isolation have been a nearly maddening experience. I miss people. And considering that my adulthood has been spent in the liquor industry, by extension, I miss bars. I really miss bars.

Bars, the good ones anyway, are more than just a place to grab a drink. They are a gathering place for friends, a place to get a feel for the neighborhood. Historically, they were the places where political discourse became human interaction. Where sharing a drink with a stranger might result in a new friendship, or even more interesting, perhaps a fun new rivalry.

In this era, bars can be a home away from home. They are still a place to meet new friends or, given the resurgence of cocktail culture in the last two decades, a bar can a place to sit down and try a revitalized vintage cocktail or perhaps an interesting new recipe from the particularly talented bartenders we have here in the Pacific Northwest.

In short, bars are important. The people who keep them going are important. To community, to civility, to our history and our commonality and culture.

As we enter Phase 2 here in Washington and get one step closer to “normalcy” — whatever that will mean once we reach the other end of this tunnel — I find myself reflecting on some of my favorite bars, at least the ones that I have come to really enjoy over the last few years. And once we have all collectively escaped the dark place in which we currently reside, I plan on frequenting these wonderful establishments as much as my spouse and liver will allow.

In my particularly perfect world, the Clever Dunne’s Irish House and 611 Supreme would still be there, waiting for me on the other end of quarantine, but as it is, I think these bars will do nicely. In no particular order of greatness, these are the bars I am most looking forward to fully opening.

1) Stampede Cocktail Club

Far and away one of the most original and quirky bars to open in the last few years, the staff at Fremont’s Stampede Cocktail Club is friendly, fast and knowledgeable. The team manages to consistently provide an engaging and fun experience, all without the pomp and circumstance that one might expect from a place with a cocktail menu as good as theirs. 

Current status: Open with limited capacity for Phase 2.

2) Canon

It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve been there; my breath is consistently taken away at the utter magnitude of the beautiful back bar at Canon in Capitol Hill. Few places in Washington, let alone the United States, are as creative and intentional in their design as Canon. With over 4,000 bottles of booze in stock, the bar literally has something for everybody and a staff knowledgeable enough to guide you through it.

Current status: Per the owner, take-out food, cocktails, spirits and other merchandise will begin the first week of July.

3) Roquette

Before the pandemic, I think I was at Roquette in Belltown at least once a week. The staff is knowledgeable and gregarious. The drinks are on point — when you can, try the Normandy Old Fashioned — and the selection of spirits is expertly curated.

Current status: Open Thursdays and Fridays for take-out cocktails.

4) Foreign National

Excellent cocktails. Excellent service. Food available from neighboring sister restaurant Stateside. A dark and glamorous ambience finished with a giant disco ball hanging from the ceiling. What more could anyone ask for? It will be a good day when I can visit Foreign National in Capitol Hill again.

Current status: Open Wednesday through Saturday for take-out cocktails.

5) Liberty Bar

Liberty Bar on Capitol Hill is a unicorn. On one hand, it’s a casual neighborhood watering hole. On the other, it’s a world-class cocktail bar with an excellent selection of spirits. Also, there’s sushi! The drink menu is huge, so there’s something for everyone. The staff is neighborly, the prices are reasonable and the sushi is delicious. I love Liberty and you should too.

Current status: Open daily for take-out sushi and cocktails.

6) The Doctor’s Office

Barely over a month old when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the team at Capitol Hill’s The Doctor’s Office managed to pull off a stellar opening, only to be forced to close along with the rest of Washington. Specializing in straight spirits and perfectly executed classic cocktails, the bar is poised to make its own impressive mark on the Seattle cocktail scene, once there is a scene to be marked anyway.

Current status: Open Tuesday through Sunday for take-out food and cocktails.