Behind Bars

Five Questions for the Bartender: Le Zinc's Andy McClellan

"I want people to think about local liquor in the same way they think about local seasonal food."

By Sara Hendrickson September 23, 2013

Le Zinc's Andy McClellan

Born in Germany, raised in Belgium, Andy McClellen found his way to Seattle as a teenager. After entering the beverage industry slinging coffee for the ubiquitous "green apron," McClellan started bussing tables at Palace Kitchen. Observing how diners and drinkers looked up to the bartenders, how people would come to the restaurant just to have the bartender "take care of them," he knew that bartending was the life for him. McClellan made his Seattle bar scene debut at Lola in 2004. In 2011, he worked with Maria Hines to open Golden Beetle, creating adventurous concoctions using house-made tinctures and infusions. Now, at Le Zinc, McClellan pours an homage to the Lost Generation. 

Here, five questions for Andy McClellan:

What's everybody ordering from you these days? 

At Le Zinc, I'm perfecting classic cocktails. I want to evoke the spirit of Ernest Hemingway and Harry's New York Bar. So many old-timey drinks came out of that era and I want to be more nostalgic with how I put the cocktail list together here. 

What's the best drink you make? 

I can't take credit for creating them because they are variations on classics, but I love the Martinique highball. Agricole blanc rhum—a grassier, nuttier, earthier, slightly smoky rum—honey syrup, fresh lemon juice, Angostura bitters, shaken and strained over ice, and topped with ginger beer. 

What's the most underrated spirit?

Any spirit that isn't owned by a major brand name corporation. Say you came to Le Zinc, alright, we advertise that the chicken on our menu is Tyson chicken. People would be pissed off about that, right? I want people to think about local liquor the same way they think about local, seasonal food. A lot of great local distillers are putting their heart and soul into what they do and are putting out a great product. I feel like it's underrated. I wish people would say Big Gin in the same breath as Tanqueray or Bombay Sapphire.

Where do you grab a drink when you're off duty? 

I live in Capitol Hill and I usually keep it pretty close to home. I love going to Smith, great beers on draft, and a great back bar. I love the people who work there. I love going to Liberty because it isn't so busy all the time. They have a great cocktail list and I love ordering a martini and watching the bartenders pump out cocktails. I tend to go to bars for the people who hang out there. 

What are three things you love about living in Seattle?

I love the city, the way the city is. I have a lot of friends here and love the people in the city. And, believe it or not, I love the weather. When you get summer here, you get a really good summer. When the weather is nice here there's no other place in the world I'd rather be. 


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