Our winters can be rough, even on seasoned locals: darkness, dampness, and nothing but bitter IPAs to drown our collective sorrows in. While we can't always afford to flit off to Hawaii whenever we're feeling vitamin D deficient, Seattle's sunniest happy hours offer temporary relief from the Pacific Northwest winter in the form of bright colors, beachfront decor, fruity drinks, and plenty of rum.
Even though the sun's already on its way down by the time happy hour begins, these bars offer double doses of beach-bum-approved drinks, tiki kitsch, and tropical tastes that will remind you of brighter days.
1501 E Olive Way, 206-284-5003
After transplanting from Lower Queen Anne to Capitol Hill, this Seattle classic has managed to preserve—even improve—its commitment to tiki life, including its famed karaoke and daily 4 to 6 p.m. happy hour. Hula Hula doesn't half-ass anything—the entire bar is thatched and tiki-ed; even the karaoke hut is decorated with Hawaiian-themed records. Furthermore, it deserves commendation for being one of the few places to dive wholeheartedly into discounted tiki drinks, which are all offered at $4 off.
On top of that good news, one of the few changes that the bar made in its transition was upgrading the drinks, and a quick sample of cocktails like the Saturn—made with gin, passion fruit, lemon juice, spices, and a house-made falernum—confirmed that they've been successful. Happy hour also brings draft beer and well drinks for $4, and a menu of $5 foods including Spam musubi, corn dogs, and a pile of french fries with a scent that perfumes the room.
2505 Second Ave, Suite 102, 206-420-7043
All too often, tiki drinks sacrifice flavor, sweetness, and quality in favor of kitsch. At this Belltown spot, Chris and Anu Elford buck that reputation like Captain Jack Sparrow commandeering a rival ship. While the place-mat-size drink menu covers a wild assortment of drinks in categories like tropical, classic tiki, and travel, the happy hour keeps it simple: From 4 to 7 p.m. each day, classic daiquiris, punch, and wine are each $8, and the barbecue duck sliders from chef Jeffrey Vance's kitchen are just $5.
But your cheap drinks buy you entrance into the sprawling, nautical-themed space. Somewhere between the mid-century modern tables and chairs and the turquoise and orange stools at the bar, it evokes a summer afternoon on a patio in 1958 more than the typical plastic and pupu platter tiki bar: elegant but fun, both tasteful and tasty.
5410 17th Ave NW, 206-453-3233
Yes, you like piña coladas, but no, not so much getting caught in the rain. So take shelter at this vegan tiki bar, where those piña coladas and other slushies go on sale for just $6 from 4 to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Friday. The piña coladas are a surprisingly good rendition, far from the low-alcohol, sugar-spiked version you find at most actual beachfront bars. Here, it's coconut rum, coconut milk, a little sugar, and a touch of pineapple juice in a floater of dark rum.
Draft beer and wine also drops by $1 and well drinks are $4, but who comes to a beach club for that? No, you're here for the frozen drinks, thatched decor, surfboards on the wall, and maybe even the vegan food—the opposite of classic tiki, but at discounted happy hour prices, there's no reason not to check out the $6 cashew-queso-covered mini nachos or jackfruit flautas.
2319 NW Market St, 206-566-6181
Like any good tiki spot, Hotel Albatross buys deep into their own mythology, spinning a legendary yarn on their website about their origins. Inside the Ballard corner bar, though, things are more real-life: Punk music plays loudly in the cavernous space, the menu proffers an eclectic mix of cuisines, and the tiki focus stays mostly at the bar. But at happy hour, from 5 to 6 p.m. on weekdays, hurricane punch and shipwreck punch get even easier to drink, priced at just $6 each. Our server had trouble describing either one—or the difference between the two—but you'll end up with a rather strong, boozy beverage either way. Thankfully the street tacos (which he warned are small, despite each being the size of an appetizer plate) are only $2 during happy hour, and the $4 tots and queso does a fine job of soaking up any extra alcohol.
1112 Pike St, 206-583-7177
This Capitol Hill bar cuts across a continent, bringing sun-starved Seattleites directly to the shores of the Caribbean Sea. The bar snakes around the room like water hugging a coastline, encouraging a melting of the Seattle freeze as patrons are forced to (gasp!) look toward each other. The bold turquoise-blue seats add pops of color rarely seen in tandem with the flannel and fleece of the local uniform. But neither the bartenders nor the patrons here are beach bums: Rumba, with one of the biggest selections of rum in the country, caters to rum nerds.
Simply listening in on the banter across the bar, you're guaranteed to pick up a little about rums, but the happy hour also allows for an affordable taste through various rum drinks. It runs from 5 to 6 p.m. daily and 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday to Thursday. Both the classic daiquiris and the punches come down $3. Drink your way through all four of each (perhaps not in one sitting), and you'll come out an expert in these drinks, in your own preferences, and in how rum works in a cocktail. Talk to your bartender to learn how the daiquiri number three became the Hemingway daiquiri, or compare the Batavia arrack of an arrack punch to the Barbados rum in the Barbados punch. Or simply sit back and let the spirit-smart conversation wash around you like the sound of waves.