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 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. Some current goals are:

  • Maintain a record of having a drink in every bar in Seattle
  • 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 800 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.) The amount of new bars opening in Seattle started to boom in 2010, with around 100 new bars opening each year between 2010 and 2013. Approximately 50-60 have closed each of these years. (These numbers are, of course, by my personal definition of "bar" -- see above.)

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: How many new bars to go to in a year?
A: A lot. I eat out pretty much daily, and will generally check my list of to-do bars while deciding where to go for dinner, so I hit a new bar in this way probably about every other day. Then I take various vacations, and especially there are a lot of bars in walking distance (e.g. the French Quarter, Vegas, Old Town Scottsdale) or there is good mass transit, I often go at a substantially faster pace. I usually have one drink in each new bar, so I average about the same consumption as a person who routinely has a glass or two of wine with dinner. Below are some counts of the number of new bars I hit over the past several years. Over the last couple years just over 100 of the totals were be in Seattle:

YearNew Bars

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.

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