Wednesday, July 6, 2011

FoodTrek: Eastside Love for Eastside Bartenders Association

I've got a cocktail glass in my hand and I'm announcing in a slightly buzzed, but ever-jovial manner, "This one's for my Eastside Bartenders Association homies." And no, I'm not spilling some onto the ground as a ceremonial gesture because the EBA would be like, "Don't waste that, you moron, that's good booze."

Calling the first meeting of Eastside Bartenders Association to order, in a totally rad way - Photo by Wasabi Prime

There's a new social group on the horizon, pard'ners, and it's one you should acquaint yourself with, if you spend any amount of time east of Seattle, which is quite a large group of people if you think about it. Seattle is a fantastic place to live and play, but the truth is a lot of jobs are located "Eastside" of the 520 Bridge. Plenty of folks have to make the trek every day across Lake Washington and do their cubicle duty, and the spreadsheets and TPS reports trail as far as the day is long. But where to go and what to drink while waiting for that unholy traffic to die down? You don't want to spend your hard-earned Benjamins on anything short of top-shelf, as you need some quality decompression time. Well, now there's a new group of cocktail-smart experts to help guide your way towards spending that time with a quality frosty beverage -- get to know the folks associated with the Eastside Bartenders Association (EBA) and let them guide your way to libation liberation. *cheers!*

Raise a glass to the talented folks behind the bar -- liquid happiness, yo - Photos by Wasabi Prime

News Flash: I'm not a bartender, and Duvall is so east of Eastside, I hesitate to even say I live in the area, given our BFE status, but that doesn't mean I can't be a big ol' cocktail groupie and support cool new associations put together by incredibly passionate, talented people. I was very pleased to attend the inaugural EBA event over at Lot No. 3 in Bellevue. It was a combination of too many things I dig the most -- amazingly talented bartenders, a bar/restaurant I love to bits and the opportunity to meet and chat with half a dozen distillers who make some rock-your-socks-off craft spirits.

You don't necessarily have to be a bartender to be a part of the EBA, just the basic requirements of: appreciate a quality cocktail (if you ask for a Lemon Drop, I'm gonna have to smack you), respect the skill and talent of a bartender who knows their craft, and an enthusiasm and willingness to appreciate all the amazing things distilleries are doing in this wild and crazy world. Do you fit these basic requirements and live within the area? Then sign up here, on EBA's "Join" page to be on the mailling list for future events.

Lot No. 3, you had me at "maple bacon." - Photo by Wasabi Prime 

Does it bring a little tear of joy to your eye? The sweet and savory bacon offerings, along with creamy deviled eggs and other salty goodies graciously put together by the lovely folks at Lot No. 3 were an excellent pairing to the gauntlet of tasty samplings from a gaggle, nay, a parliament of local distillers presenting samples of their craftily-made spirits. I was, as always, very pleased to see some of my favorite folks like Orlin Sorensen from Woodinville Whiskey Company, as well as Evan Martin with Novo Fogo, and equally pleased to meet so many new people.

Whew... getting a buzz just looking at these pictures - Photos by Wasabi Prime

I finally got to meet and chat with Steven Stone of Sound Spirits in Seattle, who created the Ebb + Flow vodka and gin. My Graphic Design-Self had been drawn to them from the get-go, as I think everything about their brand is incredibly well-designed and clever, so extra super-duper props that the product is pretty darn tasty! Pacific Distillery was also there, one of the early craft distillers to set up shop in Woodinville and help rally the call to cocktail arms, showing quality small-batch liquor is market worth supporting.Their Voyager Dry Gin is one of my absolute favorites -- pick up a bottle or seven. I had the pleasure of meeting the folks at Woodinvlle-based Project V Distillery, who make a really clean, grain-sweet vodka called Single Silo; reminds me a little of a reposado tequila, the natural sweetness is that apparent, and they had a chai-infused vodka that was winning fans. Another vodka maker, Skip Rock Distillers, over in Snohomish, is making a super-flavorful potato vodka. It's got a really hearty, creamy flavor, an intentional nod to the potato, and I was telling them that it would be really good with some mac n' cheese! For those with a sweet tooth, a berry-hued gem is Sidetrack Distillery, out of Kent. They've got several berry liqueurs that include strawberry, raspberry, blueberry and blackberry. It's an intense flavor and it's something that would shine in a mixed cocktail, but even on its own, it's sweet, but not a fake candy-syrup flavor. It's like a whole berry patch was squeezed into a single bottle, sunshine and all. I also met distillers who weren't necessarily presenting at the event, but showed much promise -- check out Wishkah River Distillery out in Aberdeen; much like all these distilleries, these guys are making products that are a labor of love and they're eager to meet thirsty fans!

You'll notice if you click on a lot of these websites, it's a lot of "coming soon" or primarily Facebook pages -- consider this your ground-floor opportunity to get on board with these distilleries as they move forward towards a very hopeful future for small-batch local craft distillers. These are small, family-run companies who have local roots and want to bring a quality product to the people. With groups like the Eastside Bartenders Association, I hope it helps get the word out to encourage people to support local businesses, whether it's the folks mixing the drinks or the ones putting the drinks in the bottle.

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1 comment:

  1. Sidetrack DistilleryJuly 8, 2011 at 9:49 AM

    Great article! Our tasting room is now open. We would love to have you come visit us. You can take a walk around the farm (berries are ripening) and back for a tasting


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