Behind Bars

Five Questions for the Bartender: Mezcaleria Oaxaca's Danny Rowse

"The buzz-feel from mezcal is something I've never gotten from any other types of alcohol."

By Jeremy Novak April 9, 2014

Danny mixin' up the mezcal.

After UW, Danny Rowse was a testing administrator at —we’ll just say “a major aircraft manufacturer” since he sat in depressing computer labs and tried “not to die of boredom.” Now he’s embraced a much livelier side of life and liquor, constantly fascinated by people who aren’t taking miserable certification tests. His seven-year career bartending began at Jillian’s Billiards Club, then he helped open The Cheiftan where he happily served “college hooligans,” and was lucky enough to work with the legendary bartender Murray Stenson at Il Bistro. These days he's spreading the gospel of mezcal, Oaxaca's smoky signature spirit, at La Carta de Oaxaca or Capitol Hill's new Mezcaleria Oaxaca.

Here, five questions for Danny:

What's the most underrated spirit? I would say mezcal, because it's so unknown, and of the people who know about it, very few grasp the huge variety and the high quality of the spirit class they are drinking.  Mezcal can be made from around 30 different types of agave, and they each carry their own flavor and experience.  The buzz-feel from mezcal is something I've never gotten from any other types of alcohol.  It puts you in a stimulated and positive mood. 

What is everyone ordering at Mezcaleria Oaxaca these days? At our new location we are serving a lot of our mezcal cocktails.  Mezcal is best enjoyed straight, but unlike something like Scotch, it mixes really well in a lot of different cocktails; this is no secret in the bartending world.  Also, our margaritas. I shake hundreds a night.  They are awesomely boozy, tart, and fresh...who doesn't love a good margarita?

What's your favorite cocktail recipe using a PNW-distilled spirit? I would have to say a negroni with Voyager Gin.  It is so bright and clean tasting all around, it really comes out in a negroni.

What is the craziest thing you've ever seen happen in a bar? It's disgusting but I'll tell you...Four friends are taking chilled Washington Apple shots at the bar-top, they drunkenly cheers and they all start slamming their large shots, one young man in the group was chugging quite violently and caused himself to vomit, discretely without anyone noticing but me, back into his glass.  This would have been bad enough, but after doing this he made the desperate snap decision to re-chug his cup of vomit, in an attempt at not being discovered by his friends or other bystanders.  No one saw but me, he went on hanging out with his friends like nothing happened, I was too baffled to say anything to him.

What bar do you like to frequent when not at Mezcaleria Oaxaca and why? Liberty.  Hands down my favorite bar: Some of the best cocktails in the city serviced by a dream team of talented and friendly bartenders, beautiful back bar with a huge collection of spirits (so much mezcal!), always open, and the only place I can get a descent espresso at midnight. And sushi is an awesome food to eat when you’re drinking alcohol.


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