How did you get into bartending and how long have you been at it?
I've been a bartender and mixologist for a little over seven years. I started out in Las Vegas before moving to Seattle, where I've been living for a little less than two years. I would usually play the role of bartender for my friends and would often find myself trying to craft the most unique drinks that I could think of. Transitioning from a Vegas-style to a Seattle-style of drinking was a learning curve. Getting to use stuff like all the different types of amaros and other things that I wasn't necessarily used to gave me a new perspective on bartending and put me on a whole new level of mixology.
What do you love most about your job?
I never get bored. I'm always finding ways to challenge myself when it comes to inventing or re-creating a cocktail. Being able to bring your ideas to life and presenting them to patrons is a truly rewarding feeling, when executed successfully.
What are the qualities of a good bartender?
Having a great personality is an absolute must, and a knowledgeable background of bartending is the true setup for success. Honesty is respected, and confidence is key. ALWAYS serve with a smile.
Best/worst "Man/Woman/Yeti Walks into a Bar" joke?
Two men walk into a bar. The third one ducks. (My coworkers love me for these jokes.)
Anything you can't drink anymore after bartending as long as you have? Current drink of choice?
I can never get used to the taste of absinthe, sambuca, or anything that remotely tastes like black licorice. I enjoy a nice shot of Sailor Jerry. But every now and then, I like to keep it simple and kick back with an ice-cold Rainier.
Your fans mentioned you make some pretty creative cocktails. Describe a few of your proudest concoctions.
I have so many, it's hard to choose! I'm pretty proud of my "What's Up, Doc?"—made with Brown Sugar Bourbon, fresh lemon juice, fresh carrot juice, a tiny splash of pineapple juice, and topped off with ginger beer. The garnish is an orange peel wrapped in mint, so it's meant to look like a tiny carrot. Also my "Bathtub Party" seems to be the most picturesque and very tasty. Made with a top-shelf vodka or gin of your choice and our house-made cucumber jalapeño syrup, elderflower liqueur, fresh lemon juice, and topped off with our house-made lemon foam for bubbles. Did I mention it's served in a mini bathtub? And the cutest little rubber duck that you get to keep! Just two of MANY drinks I have in my arsenal.
Do you have a least favorite drink to make?
I think most bartenders, including myself, will tell you that any cocktail that involves any sort of muddling or rimming, or just takes a few extra steps, is always a pain to make, especially when you're slammed. It's just the minor price we bartenders must pay.
What's your own favorite watering hole?
One of my favorite spots is Momiji. I always feel welcome there, and the atmosphere is so chill. It's a great place to hang with friends and try some Japanese sake or the finest Japanese whiskey. Plus, who can say no to a delicious roll of sushi?
What do you do when you're not slinging drinks?
Outside of running the bar, I'm always looking to stay active. Whether it's going to the gym so I can enjoy all the delicious foods and drinks I want, or venturing off and exploring the great Northwest. Spending time with family and friends I cherish the most. Sunday mornings during football season, you can find me at the local sports bar rooting for my favorite team. Go Vikes! (I still got love for the Hawks.) And lastly, I'm always up for doing research and finding inventive new ways to improve my craft for cocktails that I love serving the great city of Seattle so much.
You can find Joe behind the bar at Cure Cocktail (1641 Nagle Pl) on Capitol Hill Tuesday through Sunday.