No one knows for certain when Irish whiskey was first distilled, but it’s purported that monks started blending barley as early as the 6th century. These days, most folks don’t stop to ponder whiskey’s early roots as they relax with a glass at the end of a long workweek, however are all whisky-lovers are thankful that since its inception, the craft of distilling whiskey has become a perfected craft form.
The Irish have certainly been doing their part for the Gaelic “water of life” for hundreds of years, bringing together water, barley and peat to create some of the finest whiskies in the world. In Seattle, there are dozens of local watering holes eager to share the tremendous varieties of whiskies with those of us on the other side of the bar. Here are a few places to get you started.
Conor Byrne’s Pub
Hours: Daily 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Tucked away in a Norwegian fishing town, whiskey-lovers will find Conor Byrne’s, one of Seattle’s most beloved Irish pubs. Conor plays host to hipsters and old timers alike, some drawn in to chew the fat with friends and neighbors and others on hand to catch or perform at the pub’s various open mic and live music nights. Additionally, Conor keeps a dozen and a half Irish whiskeys behind the bar at all times and even has a specialty cocktail dubbed the “Jameson ginger.” This drink proves to be a novel way to enjoy your whiskey any day of the week.
Mulleady’s Irish Pub
3055 21st Ave. W.
Seattle, WA 98119
Hours: Mon to Thurs—4 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., Fri—4 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., Sat—Noon to 2 a.m., Sun—Noon to 12 a.m.
Travis Stanely-Jones, owner and bar keep at Mulleady’s Irish Pub, is a major Irish whiskey enthusiast. Stanley-Jones is generous with his knowledge, and guiding patrons through a selection of nearly three dozen Irish whiskeys is all in a day’s work at his charming pub nestled at the foot of Magnolia, just minutes from Seattle’s beautiful Elliot Bay. Most patrons order these fine samplings neat in order to enjoy all the subtleties of something like a rare Green Spot, available only in Ireland until just a few short years ago. When customers are looking to shake it up a bit, Stanley-Jones is also there to help with an unexpected mix of Jameson, sherry, red currant and lemon juice—just ask for the Lady Flannery.
Owl and Thistle
806 Post Ave.
Seattle, WA 98104
Hours: Daily 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
In the space known as the Colman Lunch Counter in the early 1930s, Owl and Thistle has been wetting whistles for the last 20 years. Sandwiched between downtown, Pike Place Market, Pioneers Square and the ferry docks, this tiny but lively bar is the perfect spot to meet friends for a long chat while enjoying an Irish coffee topped with house made whipped cream or a Jameson Reserve. And if jazz is your thing, be sure to stop by for one of the weekly jazz jams.
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1190 Thomas St.
Seattle, WA 98109
Hours: Mon to Fri—11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Sat to Sun—9 a.m. to 2 a.m.
There was a time when Seattle’s tony South Lake Union neighborhood shut down at night, but not anymore. Paddy Coynes was one of the first businesses to move into the area and change all that, and the bar is still packing them in. The sleek, elegant bar plays host to regular trivia nights as well as nearby tech workers, including those from Amazon looking to let off a little steam. Paddy Coyne’s is worth a visit to savor a spot of Middleton Rare. Patrons can also try one of the colorfully-named signature drinks, like the nutty Irishman, which transforms a black coffee by adding Bailey’s, Franjelica and crème to the mix.
T.S. McHugh’s Irish Pub
21 Mercer St.
Seattle, WA 98109
Hours: Sun to Mon—11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Tues to Thurs—11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Fri to Sat—11:30 a.m. to Midnight
In the heart of Uptown, T.S. McHugh’s has just what you’d expect from a traditional Irish pub: a generous bar space and a friendly bar keep. McHugh’s is perfect for those revelers who want a central location near plenty of bus lines, easy access to Key Arena or the festivities at Seattle Center. Those who are a slave to the bean are in luck, as this bar of boasts having the best Irish coffee in Seattle. At McHugh’s, coffee and whiskey lovers will find Caffe Appassionato beans and classic Bushmills blended with just a touch of pure cane sugar. Drop by for this specialty drink or one of the dozen Irish whiskies behind the bar, including Tullamore Dew.
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Jenise Silva is a freelance writer in Seattle who has studied culinary, visual and performing arts. She penned the financial planning guide Women & Money, and has been writing about food and the arts for a number of years. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.