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Topic: Drink up

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July 26, 2010 at 2:48 PM

Murray Stenson named nation’s best bartender. Your call?

I still remember the first time I laid eyes on Murray Stenson, named “Best Bartender in America” Saturday at the 2010 Tales of the Cocktail festivities in New Orleans. I was young then, and carefree, and holding down the bar at il Bistro watching Murr the Blur pour it on: crafting drinks, lighting cigarettes and emptying ashtrays (remember those?), keeping a sharp eye out and an amiable patter up with his trademark effortlessness.

He’s since made a name for himself — and our fair city — at the Zig Zag Cafe on the Market Hillclimb, and when the judges crowned him king of the cocktail on Saturday, my colleague Tan Vinh reports that judge and cocktail historian David Wondrich had this to say about that: “He should be knighted, but this will have to do.”

Old-school cool: Seattle bartender Murray Stenson, “America’s Best Bartender.”

Seattle Times photo: Erika Schultz

Which leads me to wonder: When you’re out sipping a cocktail, who do you hope to find on the other side of the bar? Name names, and tell us where we’ll find them. Me? It’s been too long since I’ve been to the Zig Zag to see Murray, but to his name add Robbie McGrath’s, my main man at Matt’s in the Market.


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July 16, 2009 at 8:45 AM

Maritime Pacific Brewing Company: Jolly good move

My friend Dave, a longtime fan of Ballard’s Maritime Pacific Brewing Company and its adjoining Jolly Roger Taproom, nearly had a heart attack this week as he was driving down NW Leary Way. Here’s why:

Sign ‘o the times? Not exactly.

Is it any wonder he was preparing to cry in his beer after finding his favorite drinking-hole for lease — with an October date slapped on the side for all the world to see, no less? What with all the news of economic woes coupled with the many retail and restaurant closures we’ve seen lately, Dave was convinced the next time he drove by the Jolly Roger he’d find this:


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May 18, 2009 at 11:36 AM

Cocktail, or beverage? Your call: What’ll it be?

When I waited tables, one of my cohort, a guy named Frank, regularly approached his patons with the same routine. He’d bid them a good evening then ask (in a tone some of us likened to a mortician’s), “Cocktail, or beverage?” — a loop that plays over and over in my head whenever someone offers me a drink. These days the options are endless and the answer to that question depends, of course, on where I’m drinking.

If I’m at Poppy — as I was Thursday night — it might be the ruby-hued Papi Delicious — a mix of hornitos plata and curacao socking-it-to-me with hits of jalapeno, lime and mint, garnished with red bell pepper. If it’s Place Pigalle, the drink is inevitably the Marianna Cocktail. Pretty in pink, that lime-stoked luxury offers a measure of Campari providing a bitter blush. When I’m lunching at Matt’s in the Market on my “off” hours and Robbie McGrath’s mixing and pouring, I’ll treat myself to his outstanding Bloody Mary. At Licorous, my favorite sip is the Shiso Fine — made with shiso-infused vodka, lime and pineapple.

Shiso Fine, don’t you think? — center-stage on the bar at Licorous


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April 20, 2009 at 12:38 PM

E. & J. Gallo crows “We’ll sue!” — The Spanish Table

And now, from the you’ve-got-to-be-kidding department, this just in from Steve Winston, owner of The Spanish Table: He’s being sued in California Eastern District Court by E. & J. Gallo Winery — for selling pasta imported from a 50-year-old Spanish company named Gallo (no relation):

Steve says: the rain in Spain falls mainly in Seattle


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October 10, 2008 at 6:51 AM

Off with the corks! And your favorite wine bar is. . . ?

In case you hadn’t noticed, wine bars are doing big business everywhere these days, popping corks (or twisting them off) and serving more than just cheese and crackers. Today, in Ticket, I profiled some terrific neighborhood wine bars — friendly places where the food is also an important focus:

Among them: Verve (Columbia City), Poco Wine Room (Capitol Hill), Smash (Wallingford), Olives (Edmonds) and Twisted Cork (at O/8 in Bellevue). This isn’t the first time I’ve discussed the subject. Back in April 2006 I reviewed Bricco (Queen Anne), Portalis (Ballard) and the Vintage Lounge (at Daniel’s Broiler in Bellevue).

So, now I’m wondering: where do you go to lift a glass of grape juice?


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