Washington's Top Bar Booze Buyer? It's Peso's

You spend so they can
Dan Olsby, general manager of Peso's Kitchen and Lounge for the past six years, knows his liquor orders are pretty substantial. It's his job to track every financial detail of the popular Lower Queen Anne bar and Mexican restaurant.

But Olsby didn't know this: Peso's spent more on liquor over the past 12 months than any other bar in the state, more than restaurants twice its size, more than hotels, more any other booze-slinging establishment except two large casinos, according to the Washington State Liquor Control Board.

"Well," Olsby says with a chuckle when asked about Peso's enormous liquor orders, "we do have a very popular happy hour."

No kidding. Citing privacy laws, state liquor officials declined to release actual purchase figures but instead provided a top-ten ranking minus specific dollar amounts. Outspending Peso's were Snoqulamie Casino (#1) and Spokane's Northern Quest Resort and Casino (#2).

In total, five Seattle bars and eateries made the top ten, including Earl's in the U District, Capitol Hill's The Cuff, Belltown's Amber and downtown's Wild Ginger (which combines its liquor orders with the Triple Door music venue). One SeaTac International Airport bar, The Tequileria, also ranked in the top ten, as did a hipster pool hall in Bellevue.

Olsby says that numbers don't necessarily mean that Peso's sells more booze than most other places. Rather, it just spends more. "We committed ourselves to serving premium well drinks," he explains. "We serve nothing but 100 percent agave tequila. That's not cheap."

He says the bar's extensive happy hour food menu also drives liquor sales. "We serve a quality product," he says. "People come back."

Robert McLaughlin, owner of the semi-dive Earl's on the Ave., says the bar's proximity to the University of Washington only gets partial credit for the lounge's #8 ranking statewide. "We serve all of our drinks in pint glasses," he says. "And we make a good cheap drink. People get a lot for their money here."

Liquor Sales Rankings:

1. Snoqulamie Casino

2. Northern Quest Resort and Casino (Spokane)

3. Peso's Kitchen and Lounge

4. The Parlor, Bellevue's Billiards and Spirits

5. The Tequileria (SeaTac Airport)

6. The Emerald Queen Casino (Puyallup)

7. The Cuff

8. Earl's on the Ave.

9. Wild Ginger and Triple Door

10. Amber

Source: The Washington State Liquor Control Board

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