About SeattleBars.org and "Project K-Bar"

For some reason in early 2006 I got the idea that I should try to document as many different bars as I could where I have had a drink, and to continue to document new bars until I could identify 1,000 that I had visited (hence the "K" in "Project K-Bar"). I came up with a list of 466 bars that I clearly remembered stopping in, and started counting new ones from there. Once I'd reached 1,000, and had a better idea of how many bars there were in Seattle, as well as how many opened and closed each year, it seemed within reach to have a drink at every bar in Seattle. I believe I essentially accomplished this, though it is of course a moving target, and I maintain a to-do list of recently opened Seattle bars that I have not yet been to as well as dozens of bars known to be opening in the future (information gathered primarily from various foodie blogs, augmented by information from friends, state records on liquor licenses, and just driving around). Some current goals are:

  • Maintain a record of having a drink in every bar in Seattle (this involves about 100 new bars a year)
  • Complete the list of Washington state's oldest bars
  • Create a page on the great old back bars (the physical bars) in Washington
  • Continue to build my data on past Seattle and Washington state bars
  • Visit every official town in the state of Washington between 2013-2015
  • Document 3,000 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 900 bars within the seattle city limits at any given time. (There are approximately 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.) For more significant numbers, see my stats page.

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: Most of my information comes from various foodie blogs. A fair amount comes from friends who know about my hobby. I have considered working backwards from the state's list of on-premises liquor licenses, but I've never reached that point because I always have a a to-do list of 20 to 30 newly opened bars to visit (and another 30 to 60 expected to open soon).

Q: How many new bars to go to in a year?
A:In recent years I have averaged one new bar a day, but recently my rate has slowed to about half that. I eat out virtually every night, and in the majority of stops I have one drink, so I a verage about the same consumption as a person who routinely has a glass or two of wine with dinner (which appears to be the optimal level for health and long life?). For details, see my stats page.

Q: Are you going to write a book?
A: Not for a while, but I am interested in doing that sometime in the future.

Q: What data do you have that is not on the web pages?
A: I am collecting and slowly digitizing data on Seattle and Washington bars of the past, generally with minimal data such as years in existence, address, often the owners. I plan to put my entire bar list on the web at some point, but it will probably be a few years before I feel it is in a state where I would want to do that. I get a small but steady stream of emails from people who run across my pages and have questions or information about old bars, e.g. that ancestors ran or in which they have some special memories. Usually I can tell them a little bit about the bar and they can often provide me additional information, and I quite enjoy these exchanges. I'm also indebted to a number of volunteers in historical societies across the state, who are often gracious and helpful in providing additional information about old bars in their part of the state. I enjoy these exchanges, and appreciate any historical bar data and bar stories people can provide me (contact me at the email address in the logo above).

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. I drink cocktails more often than beer or wine. 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, it does not have to be super delicately balanced, and there's a lime to help cover mistakes. So it is relatively difficult to really mess up a gin and tonic -- but it's certainly not impossible, as a small number of bartenders have proven to me. Some of my favorite standard cocktails are Sazeracs and Boulevardiers, but I like variety when the bar is in capable hands.

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