How did you get into bartending and how long have you been at it?
I have been bartending since the moment I turned 21. I started working in the service industry at 19 and was always intrigued by the bartenders. They were always so cool, knew all of the things, and made everyone so happy. I wanted to be a mad scientist, too.
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What do you love most about your job?
I absolutely love crafting up new cocktails, shrubs, infusions, and various ingredients. What I love even more is sharing them with all of my incredible friends and regulars. We do what we call "Wednesday Night Turnip" (because naturally "turn up" evolved into "turnip"), where everyone comes in to drink at my bar, they close it down, and then we all go drink together. The people will always be my favorite part.
What are the qualities of a good bartender?
A decent amount of classic cocktail knowledge, the ability to multi-task, and being quick on their feet. But most importantly, they are positive, approachable, and kind. Anyone can mix up a drink—but if you're snarky and rude, I won't be back.
Strangest or most outrageous thing you've ever witnessed or experienced while working?
Outrageous and strange happenings are the norm—I'm a bartender, ha-ha. Whether it's getting roped into a relationship/life/advice debate, cutting someone off, or watching a couple break up at the bar, there's always a story at the end of the night. But Tinder dates? Those. Are. My. Fave. Yes, I am absolutely listening in on your conversation.
Anything you can't drink anymore after bartending as long as you have? Current drink of choice?
Current drink of choice is a shot of tequila. Anyone who knows me will vouch for that. Suerte Reposado if you got it, and Espolòn if I'm feelin' cheap. Things I won't drink? Cocktails that consist of a bunch of flavored spirits, bright-red grenadine, and blue curaçao mashed together to make a neon sugar bomb. Ugh, I'm hungover just thinking about it.
Favorite drink to make and/or your proudest conception of a drink?
I love making our newest smoked cocktail—Bonfire at Golden Gardens. I wanted it to taste just like what the name means to me: You're enjoying your bonfire, you're sipping some local whiskey out of your Hydro Flask, and you can still taste your picnic of charcuterie and herbed crackers from a couple hours ago on your gums. The drink is smoked with applewood chips—and hot damn, the bar smells incredible after we make one.
Least favorite drink to make?
Anything with Jose Cuervo Gold, because I think it's gross. Luckily we don't carry it, so it's not an issue.
Where's your own favorite watering hole?
I've got two! There's my neighbor-hood dive, Pub at Piper's Creek, where a bottle of tequila is pulled off the shelf as soon as I walk in. And then there's the lovely Mr. Darcy's, where they always have some new odd/intriguing/unique ingredient they are playing with. Those bartenders have my vote any day.
What do you do when you're not slinging drinks?
Gosh, you could really find me doing quite a plethora of things, depending on my mood. You could find me imbibing at said favorite bars, chasing my nephew around the house, cooking (lumpia, anyone?), crafting some new macramé project, or, honestly, being a lazy piece of shit and having a Netflix marathon.
You can find Cristina behind the bar at Currant Bistro in the Sound Hotel (2120 Fourth Ave) in Belltown on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday nights.