Five Questions for the Bartender: Elizabeth Powell
"I noticed a woman dancing on a tall table, shirtless. She was with a pro hockey player."
She was in the Army for eight years, but bartender Elizabeth Powell spends these days slinging drinks—and boozy slushies—at Liberty on Capitol Hill.
Powell says she “kind of stumbled into bartending” while working at restaurants in Massachusetts. When she moved to Seattle in winter 2012, she befriended local craft cocktail makers, including Liberty co-owner Andrew Friedman, who called her in for a guest-bartending gig. She’s been behind the stick ever since. (She’s also the local chapter president of the United States Bartenders’ Guild WA and a member of LUPEC, or Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails.)
How does the military service differ from bar service? “In the Army,” she says, “one is compelled to get up at 6 am to run, do push-ups, and sit-ups. A bartender gets to bed at 6 am and would be well-served to run, do push-ups, and sit-ups.”
Here are five more questions we asked Elizabeth Powell:
What is the must-have drink right now?
I don't know if there is a "must have" drink, as I don't think all people have the same palate. However, given the time of year, I think that a Pimm's Cup or a Mule of any stripe is a great choice. Especially if one gets to enjoy it on a patio.
What do you order when on the other side of the bar?
Whenever I find myself hanging out at a different bar, I tend to keep things simple, so I'll order a Negroni, Sazerac, or a Fernet-Branca.
What is the craziest thing you've seen at a bar?
The craziest thing I’ve seen at a bar isn't suitable for publication, but one of the craziest and safe for public reading would have to be the time I noticed a woman dancing on a tall table, shirtless. She was with a pro hockey player, so I wanted to approach the situation in a way that wouldn't seem too "get the hell off my table." I ended up explaining to him that our establishment didn't have that kind of entertainment license.
Other than Liberty, what is your favorite Seattle bar?
What would you say that you do differently from other bartenders?
I don't know if I do anything terribly different from most other bartenders. I once was fortunate enough to attend a Pioneers in Mixology event hosted by the fine people who run BarSmarts and BAR. One of the mini seminars was on mindfulness while bartending, which helps me quite a bit when it comes to intention while making drinks. So, when I’m behind the bar, I try to remember to make each drink with the intention of making it the best drink that I can.