Jessie Poole describes herself as a "city girl with a country heart," which is clearly shown in the shop/restaurant/bar she opened with her mom Kate this past April, E. Smith Mercantile. Poole has lived most of her life in Seattle and only recently made a career change to tending bar after 12 years in the apparel industry, including time at Eddie Bauer designing women's separates. Find her now at the helm of E. Smith's Back Bar, happily slinging drinks.
Here, five questions for Jessie Poole:
How did you get into bartending in the first place?
I'm that friend who has the crazy home bar. A row for different infusions, a row for home bitters experiments, and I'm somehow able to keep at least thirty bottles of different liquors and apertifs. I've always loved being able to ask anyone who came over what they love to drink and having the opportunity to satisfy their cocktail dreams.
What's everyone ordering at E. Smith these days?
We're so lucky to have been gifted an incredibly comprehensive, well-balanced menu of classics adapted from pre-prohibition Waldorf Astoria, created by Craig Schoen of the Walrus and the Carpenter. The Robert Burns is one of our most popular and also one of my favorite drinks to make. We do a wash of absinthe in the glass, with an Italian cherry garnish. Add to that a healthy dose of blended scotch whiskey and sweet vermouth, and then top it off with a spray of super peaty ten year Coal Ila scotch. You can basically pretend you're on a Scottish cliffside feeling the salty sea mist on your ruddy cheeks.
What current cocktail trend is completely overrated?
Oh geez, can we ease up on the St. Germaine, please? I admit, I fell victim to its sultry bottle curves and delightfully sweet perfume, but now it feels a touch saturated. Kate's been working on a house-infused elderberry liquor that maintains some of the earthy notes of real, hand-picked vegetation. I just lean a little more toward complexity in a relationship, you know?
What's the craziest thing you've ever seen happen in a bar?
Shots of some ridiculously aged whiskey for $500. Wish I were that baller.
What are three things you love about living in Seattle?
We live in the center of the universe. You want desert? Ocean? Rain forest? You can have it all in under forty-five minutes. I love how easy it is to take advantage of adventure here. And, the food! We're totally spoiled in the fresh, local, artfully prepared food category here. And, lastly, the people. We have all been so very pleasantly surprised, as a family-run business, to have such incredible local support from our community in Pioneer Square. We've got a bad rap about the Seattle Freeze, but I find that if you just talk to people—imagine that!—we're a very open, engaging population.