Behind Bars

Five Questions for the Bartender: Sun Liquor Distillery’s Derek Ghormley

"The shitty coffee machines on the ferries are a guilty pleasure, they remind me of Terminator 2."

By Sara Hendrickson March 4, 2014

Sun Liquor Distillery's Derek Ghormley | Photo courtesy Eli Hetrick

Some people find their way into bartending after holding down an entirely different job. Or three. Before joining the crew at Sun Liquor Distillery, Portland native Derek Ghormley earned a BFA from Cornish in visual art, specializing in sculpture and 3D art. He’s been a hotel valet, a bicycle pizza delivery guy, and an after-school art program volunteer. Redirecting his creativity to a drinkable art form, he’s been at Sun since August 2011 and behind the bar the last two and a half years.  

Here, five questions for Derek Ghormley. 

What's the best drink you make? I feel pretty damn solid about how I build an old fashioned. For a drink that should be simple and enjoyable, I've seen it goofed up or overcomplicated too many times. They're great to try with all kinds of spirits, too.

How do you stay inspired? I just try to remain as observant as possible. There is so much going on around us, we have to try and snatch up the good parts while we have the chance. Eating delicious food, being with good people, getting outside; mental and physical sanity help me remain open to inspiration. 

What current cocktail trend is completely overrated? I don't feel like I have the authority to draw a hard line like that.  Even truly interesting ideas and experiments can become ruined or dull if they are over-sensationalized. 

What is something you love about living in Seattle? I love a good ferry ride. The shitty coffee machines on the ferries are a guilty pleasure, they remind me of Terminator 2.

What bar do you like to frequent when not at Sun Liquor Distillery and why? It depends, sometimes I go out for the place, and sometimes I go to visit friends while they're working. Hillside Bar is good for darts and games.  Speckled and Drake is a great starting place or landing pad for shots and beers. I've also been going to Oddfellows on weekend nights recently—while everyone is out losing their minds, I've found a little solace there.

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