Cocktail culture is thriving in large part due to a passionate contingent of exceptional bartenders and mixologists. This feature places a spotlight on the craftspeople behind the bar, and not just the structure itself. Cocktail whisperer Jamie Boudreau is based in Seattle.
Josh Lurie: Do you consider yourself a bartender or a mixologist? What’s the difference?
Jamie Boudreau: I consider myself a bartender. I feel that the main difference between barman and mixologist is that one works behind a bar, while the other creates cocktails, but no longer is behind the stick.
JL: How did you become interested in tending bar?
JB: I’ve been working behind bars since I was sixteen. After going to university for too many years I realized that the hospitality profession was one that i loved and wanted to pursue seriously.
JL: What’s your first cocktail memory?
JB: My first cocktail (as opposed to alcohol) memory was when I was sixteen and someone ordered a Caesar from me (this is essentially a Canadian twist on a Bloody Mary), and I thought that they ordered a salad. It was my very first cocktail request and I still remember the look on the face of the guest when I brought them a salad instead of a drink.
JL: What’s your current favorite spirit or liquor?
JB: For base spirits I’m loving rye whiskey and for liqueurs St Germain is fabulous and as versatile as they come.
JL: Which cocktail is past its prime?
JB: The Apple-tini. One of man’s worse creations of all time. Even worse than the Backstreet Boys.
JL: What’s the cocktail of the future?
JB: My flux capacitor is down right now…
JL: Describe one of your original cocktails. What’s it called and what was your approach?
JB: One of my originals is the Pax Sax Sarax. Scotch, Cherry Heering, Peychaud’s bitters and absinthe, stirred and served up with Griottine cherry garnish. The secret to this drink is that it uses a full 1/4 ounce of bitters, a boat-load by any standards, but one that makes this drink work.
JL: Do you have a cocktail mentor, and what did they teach you?
JB: Unfortunately I never had a mentor. I either learned on the job, or when I got serious about my profession, I learned on the road. The road was (and still is) my greatest teacher. Many years ago, I did a bar crawl between Paris, London and New York. Five days in each city, 125 bars all together. I picked up many different styles, techniques and tidbits of information which became amalgamated into what I know now.
JL: Outside of your bar, what’s your favorite bar in town and why?
JB: Zig Zag Cafe is by far my favorite bar. Excellent service, excellent atmosphere, excellent selection.
JL: Who’s another mixologist you respect and why?
JB: Colin Field at the Hemingway Bar in the Ritz in Paris. Consummate professional, extremely well spoken, and a genius with hospitality. He deals with people from all walks of life, from kings to bums like me, and yet he makes them all feel special.
JL: What’s the best simple cocktail for people to make at home, and what’s the recipe?
JB: A Manhattan: two parts rye, one part sweet vermouth, 2 dashes bitters stir with ice and strain into a glass. You don’t even need bar supplies, just a glass, spoon or chop stick and your fingers to act as a strainer. Great for when you’re camping.
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