Poppy bartender Veronika Groth has a fan club, a very vocal fan club. Like those of Kevin Lilley at the Bottleneck Lounge, Groth’s regulars have been quite adamant that she be recognized among our city’s finest drink mixers. It is my distinct honor to oblige them.
Born in Chula Vista, California to German immigrant parents, Veronika Groth says the thing she loves most about bartending is the chance to hear other people’s stories. “I grew up in a family of storytellers and vivid imaginations,” says Groth. “I like to think of myself as an aspiring writer, I am certainly an avid reader.”
Her family moved to Seattle when she was 13; at 17 she moved up to Capitol Hill and has lived there since. But the convenient commute (not to mention the chance to pluck samples of chef Jerry Traunfeld’s incredible food) isn’t the only reason she works at Poppy. To Groth, toiling in the restaurant’s edible garden is like going home. “I grew up gardening with my Mother and it’s one of the things that calms me most. I love taking flavors from the garden and incorporating them in drinks.”
Here, five questions with Veronika Groth.
What is the most underrated spirit?
Really, tequila is the most underrated spirit as it is most often consumed as a shooter—tipped back, quickly. (I do that myself from time to time…ahem). But tequila, depending on the region where it is grown, can have a large sweet aroma and a soft, herbaceous flavor and fragrance. I suggest taking the time to sip it, smell it, see how it looks on the glass. Tequila makes for really delicious savory cocktails.
What’s your favorite Seattle bar?
Hmmm… So many places for so many moods. If I have the night off I like the short walk up to Liberty. I love brown liquors, and this place is teeming with them. What more can I ask for than a good bourbon, scotch, or other whiskey poured over a fat chunk of ice and accompanied by sushi?
And the place for character-watching is The Baranof. You can’t beat playing pool with a one-armed man and getting your ass kicked.
What drink do you order at that bar?
An old fashioned. I like to experience all the different interpretations, whether good or bad. Really liking old fashioneds made with genever these days.
What’s the worst thing you’ve ever seen someone do in a bar?
Working at the back bar of a smoke-filled Chinese restaurant, I watched as a beautiful girl applied her lipstick before falling face first into her fried rice.
Name three reasons you live in Seattle.
My family lives here, I like to know they’re close.
You can’t beat the view from where I live: I can see Downtown, the Space Needle, Puget Sound and Cascade views. (I sound like I’m bragging, don’t I?)
It’s kind of la la land as far as personal beliefs are concerned. I feel pretty lucky.
Find Veronika Groth behind the bar at Poppy Friday through Monday.