Seattle is a city of books; it regularly tops the lists of most book buyers per capita, has a popular library system and is home to dozens of independent and original bookstores. In 2017, the city was even designated UNESCO City of Literature. Faced with long, rainy winters, Seattle residents are big fans of the Danish notion of ‘hygge’ — seeking warmth, comfort and community during the dark months. What better way to get through these cold months than to sit down with friends, sip a glass of wine and curl up with a book?
Here’s a selection of cozy bars that aren’t too loud — even on weekends — and offer cozy places to read the latest novels from local talent like Donna Miscolta, Mathilde Bernstein SycamoreWhere Kristine Hannah. These places are all relatively well lit, have a mellow vibe, and are quiet enough to have a conversation with a friend without having to shout over the music.
The Velvet Elk
Tucked away in residential Mount Baker, this funky space with its lampposts and antique furniture looks like a cross between your great-grandmother’s living room and a hipster art gallery. Upstairs you’ll find overstuffed couches, board games, and a guitar for serenading. To sustain you as you turn the pages, sip Manhattan house made with Punt e Mes and Velvet’s homemade bitters, or munch on a variety of okazu pan, savory Japanese pastries filled with barbecue pork, lentils and more. treats. 3605 S McClellan St., Seattle; (206) 717-2902; velvet-elk.com
Venture to this cozy West Seattle bar with its creative cocktail menu. A recent concoction is Banana Bread Old Fashioned, a comforting blend of banana whiskey and nut liqueur spiked with chocolate and burnt cinnamon bitters. True to its name, there are plenty of nooks adorned with armchairs and sofas perfect for reading, munching on snacks, or hosting a book club chat. 206 California Ave SW Suite A, Seattle; (206) 420-7414; theookseattle.com
The living room
This little watering hole in lower Queen Anne has a calm and relaxed vibe and serves as a living room away from home. Curl up on a sofa with a book and sip a fig-infused old fashioned, one of the house’s many craft cocktails. The Sitting Room gets extra points for playing Keira Knightley’s adaptation Pride and Prejudice on his big screen TV during a recent visit. No Monday night football here. 108 W Roy St, Seattle; (206) 285-2830; le-salon.com
White Horse Tavern
This little English-style pub off the pedestrianized Post Alley of Pike Place Market feels like a village pub in rural Yorkshire. The bar has a selection of imported English ales – served at room temperature, of course – as well as a respectable collection of blended and single malt whiskeys. Grab a pint and sit down with your copy of “Wuthering Heights” on one of the velvet sofas or browse the tavern’s shelves filled with collectible books. 1908 Post Alley, Seattle; (206) 441-7767; white-horse-tavern-seattle.business.site
Sol Liquor Fair
At this intimate craft cocktail bar tucked away in one of Capitol Hill’s quieter corners, you’ll find a slew of craft cocktails. Tuesday Tiki nights are accompanied by scratching Mai Tais and flaming punches. The quiet corners of the bar provide perfect spots for quiet conversations or . Sol’s connection to local distiller Sun Liquor means that mixologists frequently highlight craft spirits such as Gun Club Gin and barrel-aged rum from Sun Liquor. 607 Summit Avenue East, Seattle; (206) 860-1130; solliqour.com
Blue Moon Tavern
It’s not exactly quiet or cozy, but the Blue Moon has literary references that make it a must for book-loving drinkers. Founded in 1934, the Moon has long been a favorite of local writers, who left campus due to bar bans within a one-mile radius of the University of Washington. Poet and creative writing teacher Theodore Roethke famously held court here, and other regulars included Richard Hugo, Carolyn Kizer and David Wagoner. Allen Ginsberg and Dylan Thomas once visited, so go ahead and open a book of Beat poetry or the latest issue of Northwest Poetry (founded by Blue Moon fans in 1959) sipping a big boy Rainier. 712 NE 45th St, Seattle; (206) 675-9116; thebluemoonsettle.com
The room by the fireplace / Hotel Sorrento
No list of literary bars would be complete without the Sorrento Hotel’s Fireside Room, which hosts its Silent Reading Night the first Wednesday of each month. Join fellow bookworms to sip Manhattans, munch on a plate of charcuterie, and quietly turn pages amid wood-panelled walls, leather sofas, and a roaring fireplace. Literary Anecdotes Additional Credit: Alice B. Toklas, famous for her relationship with Gertrude Stein in Paris, once spent her childhood in a house near the site of the hotel and is honored with a annual dinner in the hotel. 900 Madison Street, Seattle; (206) 622-6400; hotelsorrento.com