Everyone knows that if you want the best cocktail experience, you ask the bartender to make you what he/she likes to drink. Similarly, as an alcoholic beverage journalist (yes, my mother worries), I spend a lot of time asking bartenders which other bartenders they prefer to see mixing their drinks.

They always say Murray Stenson. But a lot of them also say EriK Chapman, bartender at Sun Liquor (and frequent Seattle Met source. See here and here).

Chapman has been working in bars and restaurants since the tender age of 16, though he did take a five year hiatus to tour with his band. (All bartenders are in bands. There are no exceptions.) He has lived in Seattle for twelve years.

If you’re in the Pike/Pine area and up for a truly exceptional drink experience, stop by Sun and ask Erik for the bartender’s choice. And if you think you don’t like gin, prepare to have your mind blown.

Here, five questions for Erik Chapman.

What is the most underrated spirit?

Does vermouth count? I guess it’s not technically a spirit. Gin for sure. People seem to really dislike gin. I use it in half the drinks I make in a night. Gin can be used in drinks year round to fit every season and every flavor palette. Every night people tell me they can’t believe the cocktails I make contain gin, after a couple they’re hooked.

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

I’ve been really liking Oliver’s Twist this winter. It’s in my neighborhood and they have great drinks. I feel like I’m at home there.

What drink do you order at that bar?

Ask Robert, he might remember…

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

This lady and her husband came in for a drink a few years back. She orders a hot toddy and he gets a beer. At the time we had a hot water dispenser that heated water to 190 degrees. She got mad at her husband and threw the glass at his face (with an almost full toddy). It got real ugly.

Name three reasons you live in Seattle.

a) My beautiful wife Andrea.
b) I’m an hour in any direction from fly fishing paradise.
c) Wonderful community, both in bartending and life. I love this town.

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