Before settling down in Capitol Hill, DeLuxe’s bartender Alicia Utt studied at Cornish for a few years and then “followed [her] heart around the Northwest,” working at a golf resort and old movie theater on the Oregon coast, a Moroccan restaurant in Eugene, and a Pearl District sports bar. Her heart stayed with her friends, though, and eventually led her back to Seattle where she found a job as assistant manager at DeLuxe four and a half years ago. She started tending the bar a year later.
Here, five questions for Alicia.
What's the most underrated spirit? Oban is my favorite, the soft peat and heather smell, the orange and fig flavors, it's lightness, and the honey finish get me every time. It's simply not ordered often enough.
What is everyone ordering at DeLuxe these days? We have 20 taps, 16 that we rotate with local, imported and other always-interesting choices. Our house IPA, 50th Anniversary Founders ale, is super popular. Founders is crafted by Two Beers Brewing down in SoDo; it's really exciting to be a part of this community where quality products are being created and appreciated by the locals. Also, DeLuxe has such an extensive brown liquor collection I find myself serving a variety of boilermakers every night.
What's the best drink you make? My best drink? My regulars call it “(blank) roulette.” For my future customers, the blank is where you pick a base liquor and as many or as few extra flavors as you want. For example, "I would like a gin roulette." Or, "How about a fruity rum roulette?" Or you could say, "Can you stir me a local whiskey roulette with an orange twist?" I have found many of my favorite drinks and people this way.
What is the craziest thing you've ever seen happen in a bar? When I was 21, I was working in an old-fashioned martini/piano bar on the coast of Oregon. A lovely bartender named Vicky taught me the ways of a martini and proper stirring technique. Vicky had hidden a pair of sparkling gold dance heels—with a top hat to match—in the liquor room. I only saw her use them once, but I hope that if I stay in this game for 20 or more years, I will find my own version of dancing in gold shoes on my bar.
If the bar and restaurant world suddenly disappeared, what would you do? I would try to get a job at KUOW. I can hear it now: "Thank you Reiny, it's still raining in Seattle right now, with a strong chance of rain later today. This is Alicia Utt, thank you for listening to KUOW. "