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Canon: the world’s sixth-best bar

Posted by Johnine Larsen on October 28, 2014
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You can find sixth-best bar in the world on 12th Ave, just south of E Spring Street. Not sixth-best in Seattle, not sixth-best in Washington. Not even sixth-best in the United States.

Sixth-best bar. In the world. Period.

To find a better one, you’d have to fly more than 2,000 miles, all the way to New York City. Or you could drive there, but that would take 2,858 miles and 43 hours (in current traffic), and to be honest, a great drink doesn’t seem worth that much trouble, no matter how perfect it is. Especially not when #6 is just a few miles and a half hour away.

So here’s our question: Have you been there?



Canon is the Library of Congress for drinks. Angostura-stained wood, ceiling-high shelves, beautifully labeled bottles. The place looks vintage in the best way—classy and formal without a hint of angsty hipster irony. Beneath the ornate ceiling, you’ll find chandeliers and dim lights with red lampshades. A phonographs sits in the corner. Your drinks appear in antique glassware, and your change comes in $2 bills and $1 coins.

It’s an intimate place; Canon only allows 48 people in the building at one time, and it only accepts groups of six or fewer. The only downside: the wait.


Canon claims the largest spirit collection in the western hemisphere. If you take a moment or twenty to study the back wall, covered with rows upon rows of bottles, you’ll find all the modern drinks of any Seattle bar: Grey Goose, Sailor Jerry. But those are the minority. Most of Canon’s spirits are obscure. Some could be museum pieces, like the Westover Maryland Rye from the 1880s (you can try a glass for $1,255).

Kilbeggan_Distillery_WhiskyCanon opened in 2011 with a 12-page menu. Now, their full menu is book-length, at 130 pages. That menu represents a million dollars worth of inventory. “The western hemisphere’s largest spirit collection.” We believe it.

Basic cocktails fall into the $11-$17 range.

Advanced cocktails fall into the $16-$22 range

Elite cocktails, like the Vintage Brandy Crusta, made with 1875 J.G. Monnet cognac, 1930 cointreau, 1960 maraschino, fresh lemon, and peychaud’s, cost more than $1,000.


The food menu is short, but succulent. You’ll find items like artichoke and fennel salad ($9), pork belly bun ($12), and confit rabbit leg ($18). You can also get “marrow” for $9, with garlic gremolata and pickled pearl onion.


“If bottles of booze had the choice, they’d rather live at Canon. Here in this Seattle grog emporium, a bottle of spirit is treated with the high reverence of a prized piece in a museum.”   ~Drinks International

“The reigning craft-cocktail joint in the Pacific Northwest. Canon is so deep in its game that it even used Angostura bitters to stain the woodwork.”   ~Esquire

“Canon boasts craft cocktails for thinking drinkers, a startling captain’s list (the deepest bench of Bourbons and whiskeys around, 36 varieties of absinthe, more chartreuse than some bars have gin, you get the idea), novelties like spirit flights and “shrouded roulette” (you name the spirit, they mix the mystery), and some of biggest celeb barkeeps in the biz.”   ~Seattle Met

We’ll leave you with one more question: When you go to Canon, or if you’ve gone already, what do you think of that rating? Do we really have the sixth best bar in the world, right here in Seattle? Let us know as a comment.