Come evening, the scene gets hoppin’ downtown, as the locals come out to play, join friends at local restaurants, and sip on the best.

It’s not the quantity of brewers, distillers, or cocktail bars that make Edmonds a stand-out contender for best liquid arts scene in the region. No — on that count, Edmonds is modest. Look to the creativity burgeoning from every cocktail bar and maker of spirits and brews to know that Edmonds has got it going on. Come evening, the scene gets hoppin’ downtown, as the locals come out to play, join friends at local restaurants, and sip on the best.

Edmonds has one distiller, Scratch Distillery (190 Sunset Ave. S., Ste. A), focused on quality gin made from scratch and infused with botanicals. The award-winning distillery began with a pure focus on scratch-made, botanical-infused gins. Kim Karrick, Scratch’s distiller and owner, now makes seven vodkas, three gins, two aquavits, and an award-winning whiskey. An apple brandy will soon be poured from their Edmonds Own Whiskey barrels. 

Edmonds Own Whiskey won the 2018 double-gold for Sip Magazine’s “Best of the Northwest” in its first year of release — an unheard of accomplishment for a newcomer in the tasting glass. It is an 83-proof, single-barrel whiskey made with 100 percent Skagit Valley old world grains of spelt, millet, winter white wheat, and malted barley. They call it a “new-world whiskey from an old-world recipe.”

Karrick gives GINiology tastings and classes, where you can customize your own gin recipe, and distill bier schnapps from the beer of Edmonds’ Salish Sea Brewing (518 Dayton St., Ste. 104). 

Owner-operators Jeff and Erika Barnett are also expanding their operation after purchasing the American Brewing Co., which closed during the pandemic. Salish Sea will expand their own fermenting with the newly-acquired 10-barrel fermenters, with a 150 percent increase in production. And bonus for beer lovers during a pandemic, it means even more outdoor dining space for Salish Sea.

For more beer, head to Brigid’s Bottleshop (188 Sunset Ave. S.), which has 24 taps with 18 rotating beers and a rotating mix of cider, wine, and non-alcoholic options. All of this is near Scratch Distillery in the 190 Sunset Complex across from the waterfront, with plenty of outdoor seating. 

You can taste your way from Scratch and Brigid’s on the waterfront to Arista in the downtown core in “The Bowl” of Edmonds. Arista Wine Cellars (320 5th Ave. S.) will find you the wine you want and get it on a weekly delivery. Proprietor Roger Clayton’s family-owned business is focused on both great-value wines and the hard-to-find, gotta-have collectibles. Join them for a Saturday wine tasting.

Now that you’re downtown, really let your hair down, text a friend, and gather for the evening. Outdoor seating is available at the many cocktail bars creating new mixologies, with local spirits. 

Kelnero (545 Main St.), is hyper-focused on serving up a seasonal and sustainable menu, along with dressed-up cocktails. Daphne’s Bar (415½ Main St.) is tucked into a narrow joint with old-school pendant lights and plenty of wood trim. The friendly smile of Brian Taylor makes the neighborhood joint the “happy hole-in-the-wall of Edmonds [Herald, 2018]." "It's like being at a cocktail party at a stranger’s house."

Of course, any of Edmonds destination restaurants, such as Salt & Iron and Bar Dojo will serve up a fine cocktail, along with a mouth-watering meal. Filipino restaurant Barkada (622 Fifth Ave. S.) puts a Pan-Asian twist on cocktails, serving Manila Ice Slushies and the Filipino Flood, with tamarind whiskey sour.

Leftcraft (519 Main St.) brings a 60’s vibe, with heavy woodwork and dark wood platters for serving. You’ll feel like Sean Connery in an early Bond film, according to Tom B., Yelp reviewer.  And he’s right — the interior is gorgeous, and so is the gastronomical line-up. Enjoy big burgers, patty melts, and fingerlings on the sidewalk patio. Have a pour from the extensive tap list, or enjoy a cocktail or glass of wine.

ChurchKey Pub (109 4th Ave. N.) is another place the locals love. Hearty pub fare laced with PNW diversity in the menu, coupled with a tremendous selection of local craft beer, spirits, wine, and specialty cocktails make this a fave for newcomers, too.

We’d call Niles Peacock the newcomer, but really, the town is glad for his return. He was the star attraction at 190 Sunset before it closed mid-pandemic. Now he’s opening Niles Peacock Kitchen and Bar, (178 Sunset Ave. S.), promising smoke-and-mirrors for mind-blowing presentations — as entertaining as his incredibly-crafted cocktails taste. 

So, if you want to know what the hubbub is about, come see for yourself, experience a craft cocktail, meet the locals, and share in the fun.

Photos courtesy of Edmonds Downtown and Niles Peacock Kitchen and Bar