Erik Hakkinen works at Zig Zag Cafe, a magical bar if ever there was one. Tucked along a quiet stretch of the Pike Street hill climb, Zig Zag is a pink-lit den of superior cocktail concocting, the bar everyone agrees is the best bar in the city. (Need proof? See every bartender interview on Sauced.)
This all started with Murray Stenson, of course. Stenson is the sultan of Seattle spirits. The bartender’s bartender. The consummate gentleman. The man. It would take an exceptional young someone to work elbow to elbow with Mur the Blur, but Hakkinen—who looks like one of those dapper, tap-dancing actors in old musicals—pulls it off with understated panache.
Here, five questions for Erik Hakkinen
What is the most underrated spirit?
Depends on when payday is—if it’s tomorrow, then armagnac or some nice barrel-proof bourbon or rye; if it’s next week, well then I think the well tequila just hasn’t been getting the attention it deserves.
What is your favorite Seattle bar?
Lately it’s been Bathtub Gin over in Belltown, which is a great space with topnotch drinks. It’s kind of like an industry clubhouse over there, so it’s easy to find someone like-minded to drink with.
What drink do you order at the bar?
The most expensive spirit I can afford coupled with the cheapest canned beer.
What’s the worst thing you’ve ever seen do in a bar?
The worst drink I’ve ever served was Cosmopolitan with olive juice. I made my server verify this order twice; the patron had four of them.
The worst thing I’ve seen was long ago (in a Belltown bar) when this very intoxicated gal took off her skirt on the dance floor. It quickly became obvious that she was a he, and he turned out to be a pre-op transsexual.
Name three reasons you live in Seattle.
My family, my job, and its proximity to Tacoma.
HEY BOOZE NERDS, CAN YOU GUESS WHAT DRINK HAKKINEN IS MAKING IN THE SLIDESHOW ABOVE?