St. Patrick’s Day in Seattle is a more modern tradition; the first St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in the city in 1972, two centuries after New York City held its first parade. But Seattle and New York City St. Patrick’s Day parades have one tradition in common: a green line painted down Fifth Avenue. Seattle’s green line is thanks to one particular hard-hitting reveler, the late John Doyle Bishop. It’s been said that he dodged police to paint the green line in downtown Seattle for years before the first recognized parade, but it’s still a tradition that remains true to Seattle.
And just like the city, the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are unique to Seattle — and they’re anything but boring. You can certainly spend your holiday at a traditional Irish pub, but the city’s best bars and restaurants make for appealing alternatives should you want one. Want a traditional, no-frills bar with a whiskey-and-beer special? Want a bar where you can flirt your way through a crowd? Want a bro-free zone that’s filled with glitter and shamrocks? Seattle has it all. Here’s where to have an alternative St. Patrick’s Day, just how you want it. The only non-negotiable? A true Irish whiskey like Jameson to help ring in the day.
If You’re a Traditionalist: The Octopus Bar
Describing itself as “a love letter to the sea and all its hidden treasures,” the Octopus Bar, in Wallingford, looks like the Little Mermaid decided to set up a dive bar in her treasure grotto. Filled with nautical salvaged finds, the bar is beloved for its tasty pizzas, friendly bartenders, and delightfully named drinks. The Jackie Pearson, a whiskey buck made with Jameson, is a must for St. Patrick’s Day, though if you’re not feeling fancy, go for the classic Jameson/PBR combo, a.k.a. the Tackle Box. Settle in among the starfish and seaweed, and make a toast to the sea — sláinte, matey!
The Octopus Bar; 2109 North 45th Street, Meridian, Seattle; theoctopusbar.com
If You’re a Social Butterfly: The Runaway
Next to Nuemos is the newly revamped bar The Runaway, a spirited take on The Runaways and Joan Jett: perfect for a music-loving crowd. Take a seat and sip on an updated version of your classic cocktail, like the Runaway Old Fashioned made with banana liqueur and coconut syrup. Or, if you and your buddies are in search of like-minded people for beer, shots, and some serious singalongs on the sound system — you know you want to belt out “Livin’ on a Prayer” while wearing shamrock shades — then the Runaway is where you need to be. And once you get hungry, the whole Bok A Bok Chicken menu is at your disposal.
The Runaway; 1425 10th Avenue, First Hill, Seattle; therunawayseattle.com
If You’re a Cocktail Connoisseur: Triangle Spirits
Since taking over the old 9 Million in Unmarked Bills space in 2016, Triangle Spirits has quickly established itself as a heavy-hitter in Seattle’s cocktail scene. Whiskey is this Southern-inspired establishment’s specialty, and expertly crafted drinks like the Hibiscus Paloma or the Black Barrel Manhattan are designed to pair perfectly with the comfort food-heavy menu, which features classics like deviled eggs, fried chicken (the bar’s specialty), and meatloaf sliders.
Triangle Spirits; 3507 Fremont Place N, Fremont, Seattle
If You’re a Dancing Fiend: Queer Bar
Want to make this St. Patrick’s Day super glam? Queer Bar, which took over for Purr last year, is filled to the brim with glitz and glitter — on all its patrons, regardless of gender. People of every type from A to Z will feel at home here, and you’ll find them all on the newly installed dance floor, shaking it alongside some of the best drag performers in Seattle. Grab your most fabulous friends (or make some new ones) and celebrate Irish pride in a guaranteed bro-free zone.
Queer Bar; 1518 11th Avenue, Capitol Hill, Seattle; thequeerbar.com
If You’re an Oldie But Goodie: Cha Cha Lounge
Since 1998, Cha Cha Lounge and its sister restaurant, Bimbo’s Bitchin’ Burrito Kitchen, have been supplying Capitol Hill patrons with killer nachos, burritos, and seriously strong drinks. Underground and bathed in red light with a tiki-cum-bordello vibe, Cha Cha is the kind of place where you might not mean to end up, but somehow you always do. It’s going to be crowded, and it’s going to be sweaty — but what’s a little personal space among friends on St. Paddy’s Day, right?
Cha Cha Lounge; 1013 East Pike Street, Capitol Hill, Seattle; chachalounge.com/seattle
If You’re a Homebody: Murphy’s Pub
As Seattle’s oldest Irish bar, Murphy’s Pub is a St. Paddy’s Day bucket-list destination. Every year, they go all out with entertainment like live Irish music and dance performances, and plenty of isle-inspired food, including bangers and mash, “proper” fish and chips, and Irish whiskey bread pudding. Will it be crowded? Undoubtedly. But Murphy’s has the kind of lived-in coziness that will make you feel like you’re still at home — there just happen to be hundreds of other people there with you. Order up an Irish Coffee made with Jameson and settle in for the night.
Murphy’s Pub; 1928 North 45th Street, Wallingford, Seattle; murphysseattle.com