May 9, 2008

By Their Cocktails Ye Shall Know Them

Pisco%20sour%20at%20Sutie%20410.jpg Toronto%20cocktail%20.JPG

Fortunate we are, in Seattle, to have lounges for serious drinkers of cocktails, connoisseurs of the art (as opposed to cocktail lounges for "serious drinkers," another category entirely). The best cocktail bars, the ones that care, cluster downtown, in or close to hotels. ZigZag, for one (a cocktail called the Toronto), Suite 410 (that's their Pisco Sour), Oliver's, Vessel. They're not flashy (Milk & Honey in New York is almost anonymous.) They hire experts to run the bar; they quickly develop a devoted following.

So when Vessel parted ways with Jamie Boudreau last month, it was a scandal. Bethany Jean Clement wrote about it on Slog, Nancy Leson on All You Can Eat. Seattle's leading cocktail gurus are incensed. This from Robert Hess of Drinkboy:

Jamie is one of the most dedicated and talented bartenders I know, and was the sole reason that Vessel got on the map. To look for a silver lining in his recent departure I can only hope that he is soon able to open his own joint, AND that Vessel is able to hang on and maintain the quality standards he set. Seattle deserves more great bars.
And this from Paul Clarke, author of CocktailChronicles:
When Jamie Boudreau came to Seattle to help start up Vessel, it was a huge step forward for the city's cocktail community. While we were already very fortunate to have bartenders like Zig Zag's Murray Stenson working here, Jamie's arrival was really a breath of fresh air. Jamie's an immensely talented bartender, and he was a significant addition to Seattle's overall culinary scene--he really raised the bar for everyone. I think it's tragic in a way that he's leaving Vessel, but with any luck he'll stay in Seattle, hopefully in a capacity that will give him the room and the freedom he needs to flex his considerable mixological muscles.

Not unexpectedly, Clark Niemeyer, Vessel's owner, has his own take on the situation.

Vessel was conceived and developed prior to hiring Jamie. He was hired to develop the cocktail program, train our staff, and develop the recipes. We have a huge library of them. He did a marvelous job, and we wish him well. It was a mutual agreement for him to move on.

Complicating matters is the disappearance of Vessel's onetime finance guy, none of which makes like for Boudreau any easier. On his erudite blog, SpiritsAndCocktails he writes that he finally got a catering gig. An earlier entry was titled "Will Muddle for Food."

Posted by Ronald Holden at May 9, 2008 12:09 PM | TrackBack

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