Behind the bar

Five Questions for the Bartender: Anna Wallace

Linda Derschang’s lead bartender talks Pike Place Market, squid ink, and burning hair.

March 9, 2009

The world of serious mixology—where cherries are macerated, cocktails fat-washed, bitters infused with exotic fruits—is decidedly malecentric. So it’s refreshing to offer up an interview with the talented Anna Wallace, lead bartender at Oddfellows Cafe.

I first learned about Anna while editing this story from Seattle Met’s March issue, but she’s has been working at Linda Derschang’s joints for the past three years—first at King’s Hardware, then Smith, and now the new cafe/bar/restaurant hybrid on Capitol Hill, where she’s helped develop drinks like the Last Word (gin, green chartreuse, maraschino liqueur, and lime) and the Oddfellow: bourbon, cointreau, lemon, and blood orange bitters.

Here, five questions with Linda D’s leading bar lady.

What is the most underrated spirit?

Amaro (a style of Italian herbal digestif) is my current spirit of choice. These bitter liqueurs have such big personalities, the possibilities for creating cocktails are nearly endless. A trick I have picked up is adding a dash of Cynar or Aperol to a crisp lager. It’s a very restorative combination.

What’s your favorite Seattle bar (other than Oddfellows)?

There have been some amazing things coming out of Hazlewood, such as their squid ink tincture and Keith’s Pimiento Dram, not to mention what they do with strega. I always walk away feeling totally inspired.

What drink do you order at that bar?

Anything served with a Nat Sherman cigarette and a chocolate. But mostly I order with the barkeep’s discretion.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever seen someone do in a bar?

Imagine a heap of someone’s hair accidentally set on fire by candlelight. The smell never really went away.

Name three reasons you live in Seattle.

1. Nothing compares to the culture of a port city, and my favorite culture found here belongs to the Pike Place Market and various city-wide farmers markets.

2. The Northwest has been home to me all my life.

3. I just really love Seattle.

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