Sambar’s Jay Kuehner, in his native habitat.

Photo: Lucas Anderson

Welcome to local barman/writer Andrew Bohrer’s occasional series, explaining the signature concoctions of esteemed local bartenders.

There is a King Cocktail, and there is a Cocktail Historian, and Seattle used to have a Cocktail Whisperer though he no longer calls himself that.

I require more organizational skills for the following moniker, but what I aim to be for you is a Cocktail Cartographer. Seattle is a fine city to get a great cocktail but where can you best get your whistle wetted, and by whom?

The most enjoyable drinks aren’t necessarily on the menu; ask a bartender and he or she likely has a signature concoction. I plan to map out where to find these hidden gems and cult cocktail classics. The result: a most useful compendium of where find our city’s finest drinks. First up, the Caracas…

The Drink: The Caracas
Made By: Jay Kuehner

One of Seattle’s greatest drinking experiences is walking into Sambar and having the extremely talented (and often unbuttoned) Jay Kuehner give you a shot. Jay has been the longtime bartender at the worth-the-hype drinking hole attached to Le Gourmand in Ballard. Though most of Jay’s cocktails are gentle like downy feathers and composed like sonnets, the Caracas stands out as its own ritual.

How do you order the Caracas? “We will decide if you are in need of it,” says Kuehner. It isn’t a cocktail that you order; it is a cocktail that happens when the time is right. The Caracas is a very simple drink, just a shot of rum with a little bit of a snack. The snack is a wafer-thin lime wheel, with one half dipped in super fine coffee and and the other in super fine sugar. This black-and-white citrus wheel is for you, the brave consumer, to eat whole.

At some point during chewing, you’ll be handed a shot of Pampero Aniversario Venezuelan rum. Just throw it back. The result is a bitter, sweet, tannic, dry, citric roller coaster of flavors that one single cocktail can’t match.

The Caracas

1 wafer-thin lime wheel for each shot
Finely ground coffee
Finely ground sugar
1.5 ounces Pampero Aniversario rum

Instructions: Dip one half of the wheel in finely ground coffee and the other half in finely ground sugar. Eat the lime wheel. Shoot the rum. Consult the slideshow if you need more guidance.