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September 4, 2013 at 9:22 PM

“Seattle’s Most Imaginative Bartender” vies for national title

Canon's Sean Michael Johnson, Seattle's Most Imaginative Bartender

Canon’s Sean Michael Johnson,Seattle’s Most Imaginative Bartender, and perhaps someday the world’s.

If you are out and about on Capitol Hill this Thursday or Friday looking for a libation, head to Canon and ask Sean Michael Johnson– a.k.a. Seattle’s “Most Imaginative Bartender”– to make you a Julius Henry. He can use the practice.


It’s the cocktail that made him a finalist in “Bombay Sapphire’s Search for the Most Imaginative Bartender.” This Sunday he’s competing in the national contest at the U.S. Bartender’s Guild Summit in Las Vegas, where he will share the stage with 51 of the country’s top mixologists. The winner heads to the 3rd annual global finals.


His strategy for the timed competition in Vegas is to make the drink as much as possible beforehand, “so it becomes muscle memory,” that way he can concentrate on charming the judges.


The contest rules required the use of at least one ounce of Bombay Sapphire in the drink, but left the rest up to each bartender’s imagination. Johnson says when he creates a drink he usually starts by thinking of a person. “I wanted something low-brow but high-falutin, something with a sense of humor, but sharp.” Groucho came to mind. When he looked him up, he learned the mustachioed Marx brother was born Julius Henry.


The Julius Henry cocktail is crisp, with a  creamy head that leaves you with a mustache. That’s because an inch of whipped cream (flavored with coriander-infused cognac) floats above the blend of gin, Aperol and lime bitters.


At Canon Johnson hand whips the cream before he starts his shift and makes each drink to order. He’s hoping to mix several this Thursday and Friday, because on Saturday he’s off to Vegas.


Here’s the recipe he hopes will make him famous:


Is this the drink that will make Sean Michael Johnson famous?

Sean Michael Johnson’s Julius Henry

Sean Michael Johnson’s

Julius Henry

1 1/2 ounce Bombay Sapphire Gin

1/2 ounce Aperol

2 dashes lime bitters

Cognac/Coriander Whip Cream Float*


Combine Bombay, Aperol and lime bitters in a mixing glass, add ice and stir until cold. Strain into a cocktail/couple glass and top with Cognac/Coriander Whip Cream


*Cognac/Coriander Whip Cream

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1/3 cup powered sugar

3 ounces coriander infused cognac**

-Hand whip to desired consistency


**Coriander Infused Cognac

2 ounce (1/4 cup) – whole coriander seeds, lightly crushed

10 ounces cognac

-Let sit together in a mason jar for approximately two days

Comments | Topics: Canon, Providence Cicero, Sean Michael Johnson


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