Jana Howard describes landing a spot at Vito’s as the “luckiest job offer ever,” because although she started as a bar-back just three years ago, she’s slinged her way into a bartender job. She has also worked at Rumba and Knee High Stocking Co. Howard is from Bay View, a small town in Skagit County, and has lived in Seattle since 2010.
Here, five questions for Jana Howard...
What's the most underrated spirit? At this point there is a champion for every spirit on the shelf; the city is full of people on both sides of the bar who can hold court on calvados or mezcal, and the average consumer here has a solid foundation in the classics. So let's go with maraschino liqueur, one of the most delightful and mysterious mixers around. It has funk, stealth fruit, and a nice pepperiness that compliments a variety of base spirits. There are also deeply interesting things happening in the blended Scotch world right now.
What is everyone ordering at Vito's these days? Oh my God, we'll never stop making gallons of rye old fashioneds. I encourage people to try a rum or apple brandy old fashioned, or maybe tequila, or gin, depending on the weather. With all the spirits and bitters out there, lovely, unique drinks are infinitely possible.
What current cocktail trend is completely overrated? Nothing against them, but boozy slushy machines have never really "done it" for me.
What is the craziest thing you've ever seen happen in a bar? The craziest thing I've seen on Valentine's day was many years ago. A woman got very wine-drunk and threw up in the restaurant's bathroom, missed the toilet for most of it. The dishwasher who was supposed to clean it up drew a heart in the slurry with the plunger pole.
If the bar and restaurant world suddenly disappeared, what would you do? Travel writing, since I'd have to skip the country to get Sallie Mae off my back. I would climb every volcano and eat every weird fruit.