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Soberish Happy Hour: Seastar Bellevue

A must-try Eastside happy hour, featuring an inclusive bar program & amazing bites

One of the hardest things when you're trying to cut back (or out) the booze is not just the adjustment to literal sobriety, but also the change in social rituals. Consider happy hour: a wonderful time to unwind at the end of the day, reconnect with friends, enjoy a drink and a bite or two. That can be tricky to navigate without your go-to cocktail. The case for a soberish happy hour is, ultimately, the case for any happy hour, with the added benefit of being fully present and headache-free. The only problem is that many restaurants fail to offer an inclusive bar menu that welcomes the boozeless guests looking for more than a club soda with lime.

Enter my new favorite Eastside happy hour spot: Seastar Restaurant & Raw Bar in downtown Bellevue. This restaurant has one very exclusive offering that no other restaurant in Washington can compete with: their sister company, Wildwood Spirits, distills the only non-alcoholic spirit in the state, Ginnocence No Alcohol Gin. Both companies are part of John Howie's growing empire of eateries, including John Howie Steak and Beardslee Public House, which is also the location of the distillery and tasting room in Bothell, WA.

Ginnocence Non-Alcoholic  Gin at Seastar
Ginnocence Non-Alcoholic Gin is the star of the Zero Proof Cocktail menu at Seastar.

Imagine my delight when I saw a "Zero Proof Cocktail" section of their bar book (first page, no less). The bartender, Swany, led me through a tasting of Ginnocence and shared that they move a lot of the product as the demand for mocktails grows.

So how does the non-alcoholic gin actually taste? It's super bright and citrusy with strong notes of lemon, lime, and a Douglas fir pine flavor on the backend. It had a hint of replicated alcohol burn but not much bite with a very mellow finish. Luckily there was none of the weird cough-syrup aftertaste which is really common amongst non-alcohol spirits. I tried the "Rejuvenate" as my first zero proof cocktail, which mixes Ginnocence with elderflower syrup, fresh strawberries and soda. It was bright, well-balanced and the perfect way to start off the evening. If you're looking for a lower-alcohol option they also offer 4-oz pours of house wine for $5 during happy hour.

The happy hour menu is killer, offered every day from 4pm-7pm. We enjoyed the ahi poke, crispy sushi bites topped with spicy salmon tartare, and a California roll made with real Dungeness crab. Now it's no secret that Seastar is known for their incredible raw bar, but my date wasn't much of a seafood fan so she ordered the Thai Chicken dish with housemade pickles. I'm shocked to say that it actually gave the seafood dishes a run for their money.

Happy hour at Seastar
Happy hour is offered daily from 4pm-7pm.

To cap off the night I had to try the "Gina Colada," because a Pina Colada with Gin was too weird to pass up. Our bartender recommended it and I just had to know. Luckily for me, the Ginnocence is so bright and citrusy it absolutely worked with pineapple juice and coconut cream, topped with toasted coconut. It was like dessert in a cup.

If you're looking for a great spot on the Eastside to go out with colleagues, friends, or a date, this spot is for you - soberish or not. Pro tip: They validate parking in the garage below and go early - the ambiance was lively and the bar was packed by 6pm.

Check out my video review on Instagram and send me a message with your favorite restaurants with inclusive bars as well. Cheers!


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