Top Shelf Advice: Where the Bartenders Go to Drink

Where and what the bartenders drink, and how they recover

By Erika Almanza Brown October 14, 2013


This article originally appeared in the December 2013 issue of Seattle Magazine.

!–paging_filter–pstrongimg src=”/sites/default/files/newfiles/medium_1213_andrew-at-liberty-bar-final.jpg” style=”float: left; margin: 10px;” height=”120″ width=”120″Andrew Friedman, owner, a href=”http://\/\/” target=”_blank”Liberty Bar /a/strongbrstrongBest bar to visit on your night off: /stronga href=”http://\/\/” target=”_blank”Barrio on 12th/a, especially on Monday (when it’s half-price tequila and mezcal night), Canon and anywhere Jay Kuehner (formerly of Vessel) is bartending. brstrongMost popular drink at your bar right now:/strong Mezcal, the great-grandfather of tequila. It’s also one of the most rich, flavorful and complex spirits available in the world.brbrbrbrstrongimg src=”/sites/default/files/newfiles/medium_1213_nik-at-liberty-bar-final.jpg” style=”float: left; margin: 10px;” height=”120″ width=”120″Nik Virrey, bartender, a href=”http://\/\/” target=”_blank”Liberty Bar /a/strongbrstrongBest martini: /strongYou have to go to a craft-centered bar like Liberty, Canon, Vessel or a href=”http://\/\/” target=”_blank”Zig Zag/a. It should be made with quality gin, fresh and refrigerated dry vermouth and orange bitters. It is a cocktail, not chilled vodka.brstrongGuilty-pleasure drink: /strongHa! The corner-store white wine in the summer time over ice.strongbrHangover cure:/strong Water the night before and two ibuprofens before sleep. If these are unavailable: sunglasses, coconut water, muscle milk and a five-hour energy drink.brstrongWeirdest drink order you’ve ever received:/strong The ‘Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster’… vodka and soda with a dash of blue curaçao and a float of a green piece of jelly. I’ll never forget that.”brstrongbrimg src=”/sites/default/files/newfiles/medium_1213_waldenbauer.jpg” style=”float: left; margin: 10px;” height=”120″ width=”120″Keith Waldbauer, bartender at Liberty and Liquid Kitchen/strongbrstrongHangover cure:/strong Nuun (electrolyte) tablets, which I buy by the case at Amazon. I take one daily, hangover or not.brbrstrongbrbrbrbrimg src=”/sites/default/files/newfiles/medium_1213_hideki-anpo-bartender-poppy-0981-final.jpg” style=”float: left; margin: 10px;” height=”120″ width=”120″Hideki Anpo, bar manager, a href=”http://\/\/” target=”_blank”Poppy/a/strongbrstrongBest bar to visit on your night off: /strongSun Liquor. Great people to chat with; they always have the whiskey and beer I want—and warm nuts.brstrongBest Bloody Mary:/strong I do love a good michelada (the beer version, but less tomato and more spice and lime). La Carta de Oaxaca makes my fave.brstrongBest Moscow mule:/strong The Walrus and the Carpenter or Montana. Have you tried Rachel’s ginger beer? Do it. Do it now.brstrongHangover cure: /strongThai food, a can of Diet Coke and a couch.brstrongWho is the bartender you admire most and why?/strong Guinan from emStar Trek: The Next Generation/em [played by Whoopi Goldberg]. She made some really colorful and cool-looking drinks… Plus, it makes me feel good that bartenders will still have jobs in the future. Why do they need her if they have a food replicator? I guess we do more than just make drinks.brbrstrongimg src=”/sites/default/files/newfiles/medium_1213_robroybartender.jpg” style=”float: left; margin: 10px;” height=”120″ width=”120″Courtney Matzke, bartender,a href=”http://\/\/” target=”_blank” Rob Roy/a/strongbrstrongBest bar to visit on your night off:/strong If I’m in the mood for a cocktail bar, I go to a href=”http://\/\/” target=”_blank”Canon /aand Zig Zag. For a more casual time, I enjoy Montana on Capitol Hill or a href=”http://\/\/” target=”_blank”Vito’s/a.brstrongBest Bloody Mary: /strongSkillet Diner.brstrongWhat is your hangover cure?/strong Cayenne pepper mixed with lemon juice, honey and water—also makes a really good base for a cocktail!brstrongWhat is the weirdest drink order you’ve received?/strong Probably an old fashioned with a splash of Red Bull…hey, whatever makes you happy.brbrstrongbrimg src=”/sites/default/files/newfiles/medium_1213_amanda_reed_headshot-by-mandy-blouin-final.jpg” style=”float: left; margin: 10px;” height=”120″ width=”120″Amanda Reed, general manager, a href=”http://\/\/” target=”_blank”Tavern Law /a/strongbrstrongBest bar to visit on your night off: /strongVito’s is a Seattle cult classic—an old-school Italian restaurant that features live jazz and one of the best back bars in the city. brstrongBest Bloody Mary:/strong Smith. I prefer mine thick, spicy and vegetal. brI especially appreciate when pickled veggies are involved. They have it all.brstrongBest Martini:/strong Zig Zag. Although the bartenders are capable of much more, they do classics with style and grace.brstrongWhat is your guilty-pleasure drink?/strong Whenever I am on a tropical vacation, I am all about blended piña coladas.brstrongWhat is the most popular drink at your bar?/strong Old fashioneds. Donald Draper is responsible for this.brstrongWhat is the weirdest drink order you’ve received?/strong I once got a large group of college kids [at the speakeasy-style bar Needle and Thread] who wanted me to create cocktails that represented the cast of The Powerpuff Girls. brbrstrongimg src=”/sites/default/files/newfiles/medium_1213_evan-bar-code-final_0.jpg” style=”float: left; margin: 10px;” height=”120″ width=”120″Evan Martin, bar manager, Bar Code/strongbrstrongWhat is your guilty-pleasure drink? /strongAn occasional boozy Frappuccino.brstrongWhat is your hangover cure? /strongWater, Tylenol, Emerald City Smoothie, greasy breakfast, probably in that exact order. brstrongWho is the bartender you admire most?/strong Very tough to limit, but I would say Erik Hakkinen (Zig Zag) and Erik Carlson (Bastille). Both are great hosts and keep a very positive energy behind the bar.brstrongWhat is the weirdest drink order you have received?/strong Requests for drinks that make you think of Matt Damon, rainbows and unicorns, Star Trek characters, and so on.brbrstrongimg src=”/sites/default/files/newfiles/medium_1213_casey-1-final.jpg” style=”float: left; margin: 10px;” height=”120″ width=”120″Casey Robison, spirits director, Heavy Restaurant Group (Barrio, Purple, Lot No. 3) /strongbrstrongWhat is your guilty-pleasure drink? If I didn’t think I’d get sorely, judged—or diabetes—I would drink grasshoppers by the pitcher daily. Or anything served in a frozen pineapple.brWhat is the most popular drink at your bar? /strongThe margarita. And mezcal. I am currently stocking between 35 and 70 different mezcal options.brstrongbrbrbrimg src=”/sites/default/files/newfiles/medium_1213-shattuck-wildaner-mistral-1367-meryl-alcabes-final.jpg” style=”float: left; margin: 10px;” height=”120″ width=”120″Shattuck Wildaner, bartender, a href=”http://\/\/” target=”_blank”Mistral Kitchen/a and a href=”http://\/\/” target=”_blank”Artusi/abrBest Bloody Mary: /strongTaste Restaurant at SAM. They have an amazing house mix that’s the right amount of spice.brstrongBest Martini:/strong David Nelson [formerly at il Bistro] always pours it exactly to the rim.brstrongBest Moscow mule:/strong Ba Bar. They use the real copper mugs.brstrongWhat is your guilty-pleasure drink?/strong A double shot of well whiskey after a long, hard shift.brstrongWhat is your hangover cure?/strong Four aspirin with a shot of Fernet and a glass of OJ.brstrongWhat is the most popular drink at your bar?/strong Courting Rachael, created by Andrew Bohrer back when he was at Mistral. It’s a hickory-smoked old fashioned with a diamond-shaped ice cube. It takes a while to make, but guests love it.brbrstrongimg src=”/sites/default/files/newfiles/medium_1213_artusi2012-final.jpg” style=”float: left; margin: 10px;” height=”120″ width=”120″Adam Fortuna, beverage director, Artusi and Spinasse/strongbrstrongBest bar to visit on your night off: /strongThe old Sun Liquor on Summit. Great staff, great drinks, low-key atmosphere, $35 Hungry-Man dinners. Exactly what anyone could ever want.brstrongWhat is your guilty-pleasure drink? /strongA beautifully made French 75 with cognac. Or a classic daiquiri made with Ron Del Barrilito 3-star rum.brstrongWhat is your hangover cure?/strong Working on a patent for this one: a packet of Alka-Seltzer and a scoop of orange Gatorade powder, topped with mineral water. If on a beach: two piña coladas and a dip in the ocean.brstrongWhat is the most popular drink at your bar? /strongNegroni, and it has been since day one.brstrongWhat is the weirdest drink order you’ve received?/strong Too many to count—but I still can’t wrap my head around vodka and milk.brbrstrongimg src=”/sites/default/files/newfiles/medium_1213-connor-obrien-bartender-rumba-1559-meryl-alcabes.jpg” style=”float: left; margin: 10px;” height=”120″ width=”120″Connor O’Brien, bar manager, a href=”http://\/\/” target=”_blank”Rumba/a/strongbrstrongBest bar to visit on your night off:/strong Hattie’s Hat in Ballard—it’s a nice slice of the old, weird Seattle. They have friendly service with the most beautiful back bar in the city—plus beer and whiskey. Standard Brewing—great beer in a cozy space. Anywhere with pinball—Add-a-Ball in Fremont, The Unicorn. Oh, and if you know a guy, the Columbia Tower Club will afford you the most amazing view of this beautiful city.brstrongWhat is your guilty-pleasure drink?/strong I really enjoy using ingredients in cocktails that might be considered déclassé by drink geeks: Kahlúa, crème de cacao, Drambuie. I’ll defend an Irish coffee—a truly delicious thing to drink when the time is right.brstrongWhat is the most popular drink at your bar? /strong‘Scarr Power,’ named after bartender Jared Scarr. It’s got 114-proof Jamaican rum, lime and some nutmeg syrup in it. It’s pretty buff—like Jared himself.brbrstrongimg src=”/sites/default/files/newfiles/medium_1213-jana-howard-vito-1331-meryl-alcabes-final.jpg” style=”float: left; margin: 10px;” height=”120″ width=”120″Jana Howard, head bar manager,a href=”http://\/\/” target=”_blank” Vito’s /a/strongbrstrongWhat is your guilty-pleasure drink?/strong I have an affinity for the occasional Diet Coke. Soda is probably the only thing that makes me feel guilty, but I refuse to deny myself the pleasure of root beer.brstrongWhat is your hangover cure?/strong A long walk with dark shades and a giant bottle of Pellegrino. The finest biscuits money can buy. Sex.brstrongWhat is the drink of the moment at your bar?/strong Daiquiris and ’Ti Punch. brstrongWhat is the weirdest drink order you’ve received?/strong I have a customer who drinks Wild Turkey rye with a cranberry juice chaser every Thanksgiving Eve. It makes me laugh!brbrstrongimg src=”/sites/default/files/newfiles/medium_1213-kenaniah-bystrom-1402-meryl-alcabes-final.jpg” style=”float: left; margin: 10px;” height=”120″ width=”120″Kenaniah Bystrom, bar manager, a href=”http://\/\/” target=”_blank”Essex/a/strongbrstrongBest bar to visit on your night off:/strong Liberty Bar on 15th on Capitol Hill. I can always find a new bottle of something I’ve never tried before.brstrongBest Bloody Mary:/strong Stoneburner: I like their Bloody Mary mix; I order it with mezcal.brstrongBest Martini:/strong For nostalgic purposes, I go to Von’s [now on First Avenue]; it’s the first place I ever had a martini. They used to be $3 at happy hour [now $5].brstrongWhat is your guilty-pleasure drink?/strong Brass monkey, PBR and orange juice.brstrongWhat is your hangover cure? /strongA brass monkey: It’s my ‘hair of the dog.’brstrongWho is the bartender you admire most and why?/strong Robert Detchon Rowland at Oliver’s Twist. He made me the drink that made me want brto be a bartender.brstrongWhat is the drink of the moment at your bar? /strongThe Globetrotter—house-aged añejo tequila, Italian amaro, Indonesian rum, lime, house-made pineapple gomme syrup poured over hand-shaved ice cube and topped with nutmeg.brbrstrongimg src=”/sites/default/files/newfiles/medium_1213_lezinc.jpg” style=”float: left; margin: 10px;” height=”120″ width=”120″Andy McClellan, bar manager, Le Zinc/strongbrstrongBest bar to visit on your night off:/strong Smith: dark place; good ambiance with taxidermy on the walls. And Liberty: Everyone there is friendly.brstrongBest martini:/strong Liberty because they have a great list of gin. Also, Bathtub Gin Co. in Belltown: exceptional gins, and hidden away and dark—it feels super-cool to be drinking there.brWhat is your guilty pleasure drink? A long-neck bottle of Budweiser beer and a shot of Rumple Minze or a chilled shot of ouzo.brbrstrongbrimg src=”/sites/default/files/newfiles/medium_1213_zigzig.jpg” style=”float: left; margin: 10px;” height=”120″ width=”120″Ben Perri, bar manager, Zig Zag/strongbrstrongBest bar to visit aon your night off:/strong Rumba on Capitol Hill. People are fantastic; fun atmosphere; great conversation with bartenders.brstrongBest Bloody Mary: /stronga href=”http://\/\/” target=”_blank”Matt’s in the Market/a by daytime bartender, Robbie McGrath.brstrongBest Martini: /strongStraight classic martini at Sun Liquor Bar Distillery on Capitol Hill.brstrongWhat is your guilty-pleasure drink?/strong Expensive Champagne like Vilmart.brbrstrongbrimg src=”/sites/default/files/newfiles/medium_1213_feedback.jpg” style=”float: left; margin: 10px;” height=”120″ width=”120″Matt Johnson, co-owner and head bartender, a href=”http://\/\/…” target=”_blank”Feedback Lounge/a/strongbrstrongBest bar to visit on your night off:/strong Suite 410, downtown. Pizzeria 22 [Admiral District] has a kickass happy hour, amaro made from arugula, and true Napoli-style pies. Also, my 3-year-old can sit at ‘the bar.’ brstrongBest Moscow mule: /strongThe Met, because they anticipated my whiny, ‘I want a mule, but, you know, more interesting’ by adding Fernet.brstrongWhat is your guilty-pleasure drink?/strong Gin and soda, splash of Aperol. brstrongWhat is your hangover cure?/strong Bourbon, coffee liqueur (that’s not Kahlúa), soda and milk.brstrongWhat is the most popular drink at your bar? /strongRhum agricole drinks are gaining slowly. Also, the gin cocktail with the white balsamic (Sin Nombre).brstrongWhat is the weirdest drink order you’ve received?/strong There’s a local musician who I respect for his talent and, of course, his choice to not drink. But his choice to drink full shots of Tabasco is pretty f***ing gross.brbrstrongimg src=”/sites/default/files/newfiles/medium_1213_carriemashaney.jpg” style=”float: left; margin: 10px;” height=”120″ width=”120″Carrie Mashaney, chef at a href=”http://\/\/” target=”_blank”Aragona /a(a href=”http://\/\/” target=”_blank”and emTop Chef/em contestant/a) /strongbrstrongBest bar to visit on your night off: /strongI like to sit at Bar Ferd’nand and people watch. Also, Sun Liquor is a go-to spot.brBest Bloody Mary: Ma‘ono, because amongst its many garnishes is a gigantic square of mortadella, and I believe there is a big lack of drinks with meat in this city.brstrongBest Martini: /strongThe Sorrento Hotel bar, when it’s raining.brstrongWhat is the weirdest drink order you’ve received?/strong Hands down, Fernet and milk. I still can’t believe that happened.brbrstrongbrimg src=”/sites/default/files/newfiles/medium_1213_westward.jpg” style=”float: left; margin: 10px;” height=”120″ width=”120″Zoi Antonitsas, executive chef, a href=”http://\/\/” target=”_blank”Westward /a/strongbrstrongBest bar to visit on your night off:/strong Lottie’s, a straight-up neighborhood bar with stiff drinks and one of the most diverse crowds in the city. I love Liberty on 15th—especially the Negroni swizzle. And Canon—the Hanky Panky is served in a little flask bottle. Awesome.brstrongBest Bloody Mary:/strong Smith on 15th. I go there for a burger and Bloody Mary any brunch possible.brstrongBest Martini:/strong If I want to drink a martini, it usually means I want to get drunk. If I want to get drunk, I go to Marjorie—the drinks there are huge.brstrongBest Moscow mule:/strong It’s all about the ginger ale. I like Books and Bridges, by Tilson. Danny, at Madison Park Conservatory, makes a good one. brstrongWhat is your guilty-pleasure drink?/strong Lillet rosé, with Triennes rosé ice cubes.brstrongWhat is your hangover cure?/strong Pho Bac or Tacos Asadero truck on Rainier Avenue.brstrongWho is the bartender you admire most?/strong If I could, I would keep [veteran bartender and cocktail writer] Maggie Savarino in my pocket for advice on cocktails, wine and anything else really.brbrbrbrbrbrbrbrbr/p


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