best bars matini
Image: Ryan McVay

THE STORY ABOUT Washington’s burgeoning crop of craft distilleries is the last article written for this magazine by editor Jessica Voelker before she left to write for a different magazine in the other Washington. As Jess might write in Sauced, her award-winning booze blog: Sadness.

Jess has been a part of the Seattle Met family for most of our existence, coming on board in February 2007 as research editor, a data-gathering job she was soon clamoring to move beyond, but not before she delved deep into private schools, hottest companies to work for, and significantly, a cover story in 2007 on the best bars in Seattle. That issue was a group effort with Jess at the helm, ferreting out every aspect of drinking in the city: brew pubs, wine bars, important bartenders, buzzy scenes, small-plate places, whatever we could think of. The following year, she launched our annual 100 Best Wines series, and a year later, after many hours—and after-hours—of diligent imbibing with her friends and fellow editors James Ross Gardner and Christopher Werner, she charted another memorable exploration of Seattle’s top 25 bars, the exploding classic cocktail movement, and the hopping happy hour craze.

As thorough as that education in local watering holes had been, Jess had only scratched the surface of Seattle drink culture. With the launch of her blog on seattlemet.com—her idea, her choice for a name, her vision to share her passion for a vibrant scene—she began a conversation with the city, taking readers along as she attended gin tastings, chatted with cocktail crafters, demystified trendy liqueurs. She wrote as an adventurer, with her own idiosyncratic and witty vocabulary. She dubbed herself a “Saucedier,” the maestros behind the bar were “’tenders,” the people she wrote about were “locaboozers,” the events she attended were “booze-a-thons,” a liquor store was a “hooch emporium.” She deconstructed the drinks in Mad Men episodes and explained how they make the spherical ice at Vessel.

Most importantly, she revealed the city to those of us who live here, giving shape and definition to a scene unique to us. As she wrote in a farewell post: “Seattle is a city full of entrepreneurial, creative people who sacrifice time and fortune to dedicate themselves to their craft, whatever that may be. It seems to me that supporting and recognizing those efforts—caring about what we consume, voting with our dollars—is at the core of this town’s culture.”

It’s not the same city it was before she wrote about it, and it’s not the same without her. Uber sadness.