Capitol Hill in Seattle may be riddled with breweries galore, rough and tumble venue/bar hybrids, and trendy restaurants that encompass the diversity and individuality of Seattle, but in the middle of it all you’ll find Life On Mars: A experientially-driven drinking hole that flips the script on cocktails and delicious vegan fare...then flips the record on the phonograph.
OUR ARTICLEBY: Dakota Nate Contributing writer
As you may know, Seattle is a city that had a massive part in shaping musical culture for not only the proud state of Washington or the Pacific Northwest, but for the rest of the nation and eventually the world. Now, about 30 years since Kurt Cobain rolled around with his left-handed Fender Mustang on the floors of venues like Neumo and Re-Bar, where Nirvana was once kicked out of their own Nevermind album release party for starting a food fight, grunge still lives in the heart of Seattle–as do the many sub-genres that spawned from it. Capitol Hill, one of the city’s most happening residential districts beloved by locals and tourists alike still harnesses the raw electricity of a bygone era beneath the concrete bolstering the establishments that caused music to remain in everything, grunge or not. With a name that pays homage to the man who originally sold the world, Life On Mars gives you access to peruse decades of musical history while you imbibe, and vice versa.
Life On Mars opened last year off of Pike Street between Harvard & Boylston Avenue with an imaginative, yet straightforward cocktail menu, a plant-based food menu that could actually knock your socks off, and a wall of about 6,000 records of all genres at your disposal. Have you ever sipped on a Manhattan beside a towering wall of vinyl? Well, have you ever done so with a vegan chicken fried artichoke waffle sandwich in front of you? Maybe, maybe not, but now you definitely want to.
Life On Mars’ cozy record store vibe was carefully curated by four powerhouses whose roots run deep in Seattle’s music scene and the local hospitality industry. KEXP deejay John Richards (John in the Morning), his wife–Pair Music Collective’s Amy Richards, Steven Severin of The Runaway and joined live music venues Neumos and Barboza, and Leigh Sims of Woodchuck PR put their heads together to conjure up a space that would complement the neighborhood and fill the void of the most bitchin’ neighborhood bar sans unnecessary fluff. Although they don’t host live music, attached to the bar resides a wooden cabinet with two turntables, and during happy hour from 4pm to 6pm (and all day Sunday), guests can pick a record from the wall and leave it in a queue box for the bartenders to spin into rotation. This creates a sense of inclusion and calls for quite the playlist as you can imagine, with a room of Seattleites who have access to thousands of records AND booze.
Speaking of booze, the cocktails at LOM are appropriately out of this world. Led by Bar Director Kraig Rovensky, formerly of Tavern Law, the bar program features a rotating roster of bold, seasonal cocktails. Coined as a “refreshing herbal soda sure to make you love scotch”, Stay Golden is spun with yerba mate, ginger, and well, scotch, and tastes and feels like the kind of medicine that could cure a terminal illness. Neil from Yonkers, a spicy chai tea whisky sour is another fan favorite and is great for some light experimentation without getting too far out of your comfort zone. The Northwest-focused beer & wine selection features hoppy goodies like the KEXP Transistor IPA from Scuttlebutt Brewing and wheatier options include Holy Mountain Brewing’s Wit. On the culinary side, a menu of plant-based comfort food by Chef Aaron Doyle is comprised of heart-warming goodies meant to cure the cravings in all of us, not just those of us that are strictly vegan. Their aforementioned Chicken-Fried Artichoke Waffle Sandwich is a chart-topper alongside their Disco Fries, a plant-based poutine dish smothered in vegan cheese and gravy. It really is all gravy, baby.
Once a few drinks makes your wallet a little looser, you may even be more inclined to purchase a record or two. The selection of vinyl for sale isn’t nearly as vast of that on the wall, but you can easily find some bangers to bring home: currently including Brittany Howard’s solo album and Nirvana Live at the Paramount. Yeah, Bowie and Cobain may be long gone, but it’s okay that our heroes have traveled to another realm because they left some incredible tunes behind to be loved for centuries to come. Vinyl may not always be around, but the real heroes are local haunts like Life On Mars that are keeping record store culture alive. If feel-good fun, great tunes, and stiff drinks are what you seek, strap on your spacesuit– Life On Mars awaits you.
Cocktails and cold PNW beers aren’t the only things for sale, check out the Vinyle bar here
Thirsty and Hungry (of course you are)? Check out the Happy Hour lineup
Sunday is a major vibe, select from the wall of records and the staff will spin it for you
Music, Vinyl, Community, and Drinks is the bar’s motto, and it’s evident from the moment you step in