Local Bars with Patios and Great Summer Cocktails

By: 
A.J. Rathbun
Belltown's Rob Roy is a great place to tuck in to, but in summer, take your cocktail out to the front deck

Day after day of bright yellow rays and temperatures creeping almost into hot territory are leaving me and most Seattle folks dazed and blissful. Not only are these halcyon days charming to walk around in, sit around in, ride around in, and wear less around in, they’re also wonderful for drinking outside.

While I’m not one to be sad about a good drink any time of year, there is something glowing and lazily lovely about drinking outside under the sun. On certain days, I like to sit out in my own backyard sipping a refreshing mix like the Sicilian Sling (pictured right; photo by Jerry Errico), made by shaking 1/2 ounce each of Italian amaro Averna, cherry brandy, Benedictine, and lemon juice together, then straining them over ice in a highball and topping it with chilled club soda and a couple of basil leaves. On other days, and especially when that mercury’s crept up extra high, I think hitting a bar with outside seating is the way to go. You don’t want to get too sweaty, after all. Here are five spots to seek out before summer is over:

Pacific Inn Pub
Though not a place for fancified drinks, the Pacific Inn (or Pac Inn) is a worthy neighborhood spot with a welcome deck. I tend to show up there after playing an old-man’s version of basketball with pals and no one seems to mind the sweatiness. Also, they have one of my favorite summertime libations ready to go: Strongbow hard cider poured over a glass of ice. The cider-over-ice combo is a reliable, and tasty, cool down. Fremont; 3501 Stone Way N

Little Water Cantina
With a good-sized deck stretching out behind the main restaurant, one that provides stunning views over Lake Union, this is a spot that can fill up quickly when the clouds recede. It’s worth trying to fit in though, even if you have to show up near opening hours. Once you have a Spicy Fogo (Novo Fogo cachaca, lime juice, pineapple, and a Serrano chili) in hand, the hours pass awfully pleasantly and piquantly. Eastlake, 2865 Eastlake Avenue E; littlewatercantina.com

St. John’s Bar and Eatery
While the big main room is a treat, cut through it without a second look and head on to the otherworldly back deck, where the light filters through a massive tree and the small tables echoes a European scene. To follow along the traveling vibe, order a Dublin Mule, which adds a twist to the traditional by subbing in Powers Gold Label Irish whiskey instead of vodka and then mixes it with ginger beer and lime. Capitol Hill; 719 E. Pike Street; www.saintjohnsseattle.com

Rob Roy
The front deck is, admittedly, rather small. But if you wrangle one of the outside deck tables jutting up on the 2nd avenue sidewalk, you’ll find it ideal for people watching as well as watching the sun trail slowly across the Seattle sky.  It’s also ideal for fantastic bubbly cocktails. I suggest the Amaro Spritz, whose combination of Italian stalwarts Nonino amaro, Cynar, and Fernet Branca with lemon juice and soda will cool you down without interrupting the viewing. Belltown, 2332 2nd Avenue; www.robroyseattle.com

Cornuto
One of those well-balanced eat-and-drinkeries with nice areas to hang out within both in front of the main room, in the main room, and out back on the deck, Cornuto is often thought of a pizza place first. But while the pizza is solid, and while eating outside is almost as fun as drinking, don’t forget the imbibables. Having a Cinque Terre (206 Vodka, Aperol, grapefruit juice, and soda) out at a big back table in July is so nice you might just forget that last slice. Phinney Ridge, Cornuto 7404 Greenwood Ave N; www.cornutopizzeria.com

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