Vinnie's Raw Bar
From the team behind Navy Strength, Vinnie's Raw Bar in Belltown is easily one of this year's most interesting wine bar openings. The list here focuses on natural wines from makers like Occhipinti (Sicily), Holden (Oregon), and Gut Oggau (Austria), presented alongside a contemporary Northwest-style take on a classic raw bar, with oysters, sashimi, crab sliders, and a "seacuterie" board. The happy hour at Vinnie's lives up to the hype, with $2 off all glass pours, and $5 off the restaurant's cheese plate. There's also a rad Saturday night special: the "Tina Turner Power Hour," featuring 50 percent off select glass pours between 9 and 10 pm. Happy Hour: 5–7 pm daily, 9–10 pm Sat; 2505 Second Ave, Suite 103, 206-420-7043.
The twinkling brass and warm wood dining room at L'Oursin is lovely, sure, but up front this is one of the city's best bars, and should be treated as such—a nightly service of smart wine and cocktails from L'Oursin's sprawling, mostly imported booze selection, overseen by wine director Kathryn Olson and owner Zac Overman. There is no traditional nightly happy hour, but on Mondays, the bar plays host to "Nuit du Boeuf," which includes a lovely (off-menu) house burger for $12 (offered until they run out), well booze for $6, and glasses of "wine roulette" ("a glass of whatever we want you to have") for just $5. They literally never serve bad wine at L'Oursin, so you're in good hands. Nuit du Boeuf: 5 pm–close Mon; 1315 E Jefferson St, 206-485-7173.
Purple Cafe and Wine Bar
I enjoy a couple of things in particular about Purple Cafe, Heavy Restaurant Group's Fourth Avenue flagship (now with locations in Bellevue and Woodinville). First, it feels impossibly sophisticated in that downtown, big-city, grown-up, twinkling-lights sort of way, which I'm forever a sucker for, no matter how much older I (unfortunately) continue to get. Second, it has a very good happy hour (in a big city, downtown sort of way), with a range of wine pours for $7.50 and a grip of food specials, including an $11 steak frites and $7 chicken liver toast. Look at you, with your discounted glass pour and your steak for less than $20. You've made it after all! Happy Hour: 2–5 pm daily; 1225 Fourth Ave, 206-829-2280.
JarrBar is a municipal treasure tucked into the base of Pike Place Market, a far older municipal treasure. The happy hour at this Spanish-style drinks and snacks bar is all-world, inspiring many happy thoughts of a day-drunk afternoon in Madrid or Barcelona or some other sunny, permissive destination. During its happy hour, JarrBar offers $5 pours of wine—red, white, or bubbly—alongside $3 Marcona almonds and $6 cured Spanish meats. There's also a $2 discount on any of the bar's many types of tinned fish, served with lemon, sea salt, and espelette. Even if you're not sure if you like any of those things, you should go anyway. Happy Hour: 4–6 pm and 10 pm–2 am daily; 1432 Western Ave, 206-209-2239.
Damn the Weather
Is Damn the Weather Seattle's most perfect modern gastropub? Do food writers use the theoretical construct ruse as a way of asserting something they believe in without having to come right out and make a definitive claim? I love this place, and am continually impressed by it on repeat visits, which includes its good-if-minimal-if-generous daily happy hour. There is a $9 glass of house wine, $1 off beer, and there are discounted pours of vermouth, which is technically wine, just aromatized. Vermouth and soda is the debauched sophisticate's day drink of choice, be it Dolin, Mancino, or Yzaguirre, all of which are available here. Happy Hour: 11 am–5 pm daily; 116 First Ave S, 206-946-1283.
Pennyroyal, located inside of the Kimpton Palladian Hotel, is unequivocally a "fancy" bar. The velvet booths and tufted bar stools are fancy; the lighting, counters, and glowing back bar are fancy; the portraits of Frasier Crane and Bill Gates in the lobby are fancy. But the bar's daily happy hour—dubbed the "Penny Pincher"—is accessible for even the most plebeian of punters. House wines are just $5, and yes, this includes a sparkling (though not capital "C" champagne, which is obviously saved for fancier times). A shot and a beer can be had for $8. A Red Stripe, cool and easy in the bottle, is just $3. There are little bar snacks starting at 4 pm, including salt-cod beignets and truffle fries, both priced under $10. Here at Pennyroyal, you can be fancy on a budget, because fanciness is merely a construct and late-stage capitalism makes deal seekers of us all. Happy Hour: 2–6 pm daily; 2000 Second Ave, #100, 206-826-1700.
It's been nearly a decade since it opened, and getting into the Walrus and the Carpenter continues to be a Sisyphean exercise in patience and humility. The world will have ended—Seattle having fallen into the sea following the Great Nuclear Quake—and your table at the joint that spawned Renee Erickson's ever-growing restaurant and cookbook empire will still be an hour-long wait. But there's always Barnacle, the Walrus's erstwhile waiting room antechamber disguised as a cocktail bar, where you can get discounted drinks and snacks during happy hour each day. House wine is $8 a glass, and there are some really good sherry and vermouth-based cocktails available for less than $10, plus boquerones (fresh cured anchovies) and shaved ham to keep you from going mad while waiting... and waiting... for your table next door. Happy Hour: 4–6 pm daily; 4743 Ballard Ave NW, 206-706-3379.
What a good little wine bar in Madrona! Bottlehouse walks a clever line between accessible and experimental, pouring comfortable mainstays (like a good DOC vinho verde) alongside more psychedelic natty wine offerings (Biodynamic Bordeaux or Hudson Valley Piquette, stay trippy). Happy hour knocks $2 off every wine by the glass, plus brings a glass of on-tap vermouth down to just $5. This means that the really lovely, utterly natural Oregon pinot noir by Art + Science on the list for $11 now sells for just $9. That, friends, is a screaming deal for a beautiful glass of wine. Whether or not you can actually afford to live in this neighborhood, you should definitely be going to Madrona for drinks. Happy Hour: 3–6 pm daily; 1416 34th Ave, 206-708-7164.