Last Saturday night at the Tales of the Cocktail festival in New Orleans, one of Seattle’s most sensational cocktail sipping parlors, Navy Strength, took home a major award: Best New American Bar. And it couldn’t be more deserved. Opening in Belltown in March of 2017, Navy Strength made an instant impression on us, thanks to its creative and classical tiki- and globally-inspired cocktail menu, which is bursting with flavor like a Bird of Paradise flower bursts with color.
That may be a bit overly-poetic for cocktail talk, but the drinks at Navy Strength deserve it. From immaculately made tiki celebrities like their perfect Mai Tai (which you can read more about in our Northwest Tiki article) to the world-travelling mixes in the menu’s Travel Section, which boasts drinks highlighting the flavors of a certain region, rotating regularly, from India (check out the Kokum + Cashew Swizzle), to Peru, and onwards around the globe and the spice rack. The third section on the menu, Tropical, takes us back towards tiki, but doesn’t boast the canonical ‘50s faves; instead; you’ll encounter tiki-inspired drinks created by the bar’s crack staff. Through the whole menu you’ll discover two things: impeccably-made concoctions, and a dandy sense of humor.
Just read the description of the Fortress of Solid Dudes from the Tropical menu: “apricot, coconut, and green chile just met at a house party and bonded over their love for everything from comics to Campari. Life is weird!” In some ways, this is what sets Navy Strength apart. There are other bars—many we love—that revel in their ability to utilize delicious ingredients in traditional and unique ways. But sometimes these craft cocktail bars forget: drinking is supposed to be fun. Navy Strength leaves any pretention at the door, and instead serves their dreamy drinks with a welcoming smile.
This attitude shouldn’t really be a surprise, as it pervades other Navy Strength sibling bars owned by Chris and Anu Elford, too, including the celebrated Rob Roy, and the curiosity shop of weird beers (and tasty cocktails), No Anchor. If you haven’t been to all three, then, well, you need to make a trip to Belltown. And if Navy Strength winning Best New American Bar is a portent of more places delivering both crafty cocktails and a barrelful of fun, then we couldn’t be happier.