Project K-Bar: Info and FAQ
Project K-Bar was originally devised with the purpose of documenting 1,000 bars where I have had a drink. Having completed that phase, the next goal was to have a had a drink at every bar in Seattle; I believe I have accomplished this, though I maintain a to-do list of new bars opening in Seattle, and remain on the hunt for any that somehow eluded discovery so far. The next goals are to:
- Have a drink in 1,000 different bars within Seattle
- Document 2,000 bars where I have had a drink
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How long have you been doing this project?
A: I started Feb 28, 2006. However, when I started I listed every bar I could clearly recall already having a drink in. My memory is pretty terrible, so this included very few bars outside Seattle, but it did give me a starting point of 466 bars.
Q: What's your favorite bar?
A: That's hard for me to answer because it's hard to compare, say, a great dive bar to a great swanky bar. But I ranked my favorites in a few key categories for me on the K-Bar Favorites page.
Q: What kind of places count as a bar for your list?
A:Well, that is a bit arbitrary. Basically I count any place that is primarily a bar -- i.e. an establishment to drink alcoholic drinks, where minors are not allowed -- or a restaurant that has a physical bar, with at least a small section where minors are not allowed and adults go to consume alcoholic beverages. This excludes, for example, a coffee shop that may have a physical bar, and even may server wine and beer, but the bar is not used primarily for alcoholic drinks and is not restricted to adults. I do not count airport bars, but I do count hotel bars. I don't usually count private clubs, such as yacht clubs or legion halls, but I do count places like Mercury. I include musical or performance venues if they have a regular schedule of events, and sell alcholic beverages and prohibit minors in at least one dedicated area.
Q: So how many bars are there in Seattle?
A: The number is constantly changing of course, but by the definition above, there are approximately 800 bars within the seattle city limits. (There are a little under 2,000 restaurants in Seattle. About 50% of those close within the first 3 years, and about 20% of them survive at least 10 years.)
Q: Do you always take pictures of the bar? Do you always write about the bar?
A: No. I do when I feel like it, which is fairly often, but I didn't want to change this into work.
Q: How do you identify all Seattle bars?
A: Well, that's a little problematic. I started with various lists -- from phone listings, the local weeklies, yelp, etc. I maintain a to-do list that usually has about 30-some bars I have learned are opening in Seattle at some time in the future. (This information comes primarily from local foodie blogs, sometimes from liquor license applications.) At this point I am also working through the 2,000 or so on-premises liquor licenses (available here), and gradually eliminating all the restaurants with no physical bars, grocery stores, private events, etc.)
Q: What is your rate of hitting new bars?
A: In 2009, I had a drink at 217 bars for the first time. In 2010 I had a drink in 366 new bars. In 2011 I also had a drink at 366 new bars. My rate will surely slow down substantially now that I have made it every bar (or at least virtually every bar) within Seattle. I eat out pretty much daily, and will generally check my list of to-do bars while deciding where to go for dinner. On vacations, especially when I am staying somewhere with many bars in walking distance (e.g. the French Quarter, Vegas, Old Town Scottsdale), I often go at a substantially faster pace.
Q: What are the two numbers in your blog post titles?
A: The first number in the title of posts to the blog is the count of total bars I've been to and blogged. The second number (the one beginning with S#) is the count of bars within the Seattle city limits.
Q: Is there a standard drink that you order?
A: Not really. If I am in a place that I know has a reputation for good cocktails, or just a place that actually has a cocktail menu or perhaps just a bartender that seems quite knowledgeable, I'll usually ask the bartender what their favorite is. If I'm in dive bar or a bar that caters to people in their lower 20s (and thus will typically serve terrible, overly-sweet, utterly unbalanced cocktails), I'll usually have just a gin and tonic. The ingredients are right in the name and it is pretty hard to really mess up a gin and tonic (although not impossible, as a few bartenders have proven to me). And you have a lime to help cover mistakes. My favorite standard cocktail is probably a sazerac, but I like variety when the bar is in capable hands.
Q: How's your liver?
A: Still working so far, thanks. I did not want this project to lead me to have more drinks than I otherwise would; just drinks at more different places. The main exception is that now when I eat out (which is virtually every day), I generally consult my to-do list of bars I haven't yet tried. Since I will only have one drink in most cases, it's probably equivalent to having a glass or two of wine with dinner each evening.