Usually, when there is some sort of cocktail event or get-together in Seattle, Paul Clarke is there. At these events, as I gleefully intoxicate myself, blissfully unaware for the moment that I am keeper of a cocktail blog, invariably I will spot Paul with a small notepad, nodding smartly and jotting down letters, words, and sometimes even sentences, as someone speaks to him earnestly about something terribly important.
At these moments, I think to myself, "ah yes, we are writers, I should be taking mental notes and formulating ideas for what to cover in the blog, because I want to use the blog as a means to promote the local cocktail scene, and this is a perfect opportunity to...eh, Paul's on top of it. I'll just write some testicle jokes and post some photos of me harassing local religious organizations."
That is EXACTLY what goes on in my head.
But yesterday, the newly formed Washington State Bartender's Guild put on one hell of a hoop-dee-doo, and Paul Clarke was off in New York City, hob-nobbing with his new fancy pants friends because he's too good for us now.
About four hours into the event, it occurred to me that this might make me the man of the blog-house. Upon making this realization, I responded swiftly: I immediately started the process of panicking, which I then addressed with excessive drinking.
And so here is my official, journalistically impeccable report on the affair.
9 November, 2008
Seattle, WA - A gathering of many of the area's finest bartenders, bar owners, cocktail enthusiasts, culinary journalists, and distillers happened today at the Bemis Building in Seattle's SoDo neighborhood. The occasion? The launching of the Washington State Bartender's Guild.
The Guild was formed in recent months by a group of industry stalwarts, including Guild President Andrew Friedman, owner of Liberty, and Vice President Keith Waldbauer, bartender at Union. The guild was founded with the goals of...uhm...I think having awesome parties, and going to meetings on Sundays, and all getting to hang out more...wait hold on a sec...
To form a state-wide collaborative community of bartenders and supporters, advance the highest level of service standards within the bar industry, create an educational platform within Washington State through community programs, seminars, festivals and media outreach...there's more, but you know what, just go to their web site.
The event was hosted by guild members Zane Harris and Anu Apte, both of Vessel, in the same loft space that recently held the now-legendary, epic cocktail odyssey Le Mixeur Cinq – the brain child of Seattle Legend Ted Munat, or as the locals know him: The Fuggin' Guy.
All those previously mentioned (except The Fuggin' Guy) took turns behind the loft's six-stool, fully-equipped bar, along with fellow guild members Andrew Bohrer and Jim Romdall... Andrew B. cuts really incredibly long lemon twists that pretty much remove the entire skin off the lemon, twists the whole thing at once, then snips it into segments and garnishes a bunch of drinks at once with it. He also had a French press that worked perfectly with the Oxo Hawthorne strainer and was making 4 or 5 drinks at a time with it. It was totally badass....And Amy asked for tequila but they weren't serving any so Jim put a bunch of things together to mimic the flavor profile of tequila and it tasted like tequila. That's so rad. It's like, why do they even bother making tequila when there are Jims in the world? You know?
The bartenders were mixing up the Martinez, the Bobby Burns, and an original creation called a 44, which featured Bulleit Bourbon and a homemade orange tincture, among other things.
Oh Snap! Nailed the drink menu! Nailed it! No notes, no nothing – nailed it, first time out of the box. Yah baby! Yah!
Also among the crowd was Marc Bernhard, owner and master distiller of Pacific Distillery in Woodinville, WA. Pacific, one of a tiny handful of artisinal distilleries to have recently opened in Washington state, has just finished the bottling of their Voyager gin and it's set to hit the market. Voyager is a dry gin, in much the same mode as a classic London Dry, bottled at 84 proof, and is truly the product of a family-run, hand crafted process from start to finish.
Oh, I am on a roll now. Spelled Marc's name right – first and last – got his title, name of the distillery is correct, name of the city it's in, big-boy sounding line about distilleries in the state, remembered what Andrew F. told me about the style of gin it is even though I'd been drinking, remembered the proof...
On. Point. Yes I am today. Let's name the distillery one more time and slap a hyperlink on that bad boy:
Pacific Distillery, Woodinville, WA
So anyway, here's what really happened: it started at 2 but I got there at about 4:30 because I had things to take care of, and I have to take care of the things that I have to take care of. There was a bunch of people there and you could hear them all the way down the hall. They did the thing with the table cloths over the tall table tied to the table post, which automatically exudes class and professionalism.
Andrew F. is the president and so he was presiding. Keith is vice president so he was vicing – booze and smokes mostly, maybe something else, hard to tell with that guy. Andrew B. is secretary, and there is no doubt he was secreting. Casey Robison is treasurer, and golly do we treasure him.
Andrew informed the crowd, once he had inebriated them all, that they can join the guild for the low low coast of $90/year, and this can be done through the Guild web site...soon. Not yet. Any day now though. Bartenders may join as members, barbacks may join as provisional members. Bloggers, enthusiasts, distillers, and anyone else who wants to help promote the mission of the guild can also join for the same price. Their titles within the guild will be, “Stank Bitches!!”
Lots of people signed up to get on the mailing list, there was good food, and I'd swear we drank a bunch of really interesting things that tasted like certain things out of bottles with no labels, but I must have imagined that because those interesting things tasted like certain things that aren't on the market and therefore we wouldn't have been being naughty like that...
Everyone made fun of me because the day before I had stepped in a pile of human doo-doo.
I left to go to Oliver's Twist and found they were closed for “renovations.” So I got some food, called Anu, she said come back over, so I did. Lo and behold the boys from Oliver's Twist were there. Apparently they'd worked up quite a thirst working so hard on their “renovations.”
At that point the party had boiled down to the core group, also known as the officers and founding members of the guild. They had all taken to the customary manner in which the northwest's cocktail elite bask in the revelry of another successful event: huddling around Zane's computer and watching youtube videos of some guy making fart noises with his hands.
Then we all left and nobody helped Zane and Anu clean up because we're all complete bastards. I at least expressed feelings of remorse over the fact that I had no intention of helping them clean up. And they were very touched. I could tell.
And before we left, we all looked into each other's eyes in silence. We knew we needn't say anything. We were all thinking the same thing: “that...was one HELL of a hoop-dee-doo.”
OK, so there is my journalistic coverage of the WSBG kickoff party. I hope you all appreciated the consistent tone I maintained, and the clear and concise manner in which the information was presented. And I hope you noted how I came back around full circle to the hell of a hoop-dee-doo bit. It's called “skills.”
Uhm, did anyone take pictures? Shouldn't a journalistic piece of such integrity as this have some pictures?
I'll hand the responsible blogging reins back over to Paul Clarke now. My next blog post is going to be about Hellboy!