After years behind the bar at Seattle music-scene spots (Neumos and the original Cha-Cha), Kristen Finstad flew away. “I was looking to explore what else was out there without having to leave the city and career I love. So I left the local haunts and became a flight attendant (aka a bartender at 35,000 feet) for Alaska Airlines.”

Temporarily grounded by the recession, Finstad plans to return to the friendly skies in 2011. In the meantime you can catch her at The Hideout, Serafina, and Serafina’s little sister bar, Cicchetti.

“I have an affinity for the spaces I work in,” says Kristen, “and for the regulars that saddle up with me for the evening and lend me their palates. Bringing life to classic cocktail recipes is my favorite part of the job, next to the great conversation that tends to come with it.”

Here, five questions for the lovely and talented Kristen Finstad.

What is the most underrated spirit?

What can I say that hasn’t already been said? Truth is, there is a gamut of great bartenders dusting off bottles, everything from the amaro family to rhum agricole. It’s the spirit of the bartenders themselves—their ability to incorporate alchemy as an art—that can be underrated.

What’s your favorite Seattle bar (other than the Hideout and Serafina)?

I love to post up at the bar with John Atkins at Lottie’s Lounge, Drew and Sara at Hazlewood, Chris Bollenbacher at Serafina, Archer [Brown] at Tavern Law, and of course the fellas at Zig Zag. They all embody the Jean Cocteau quote: “Style is a simple way of saying complicated things.”

What drink do you order at that bar?

Bartender’s choice. Elsewhere I stick with gins and all things bitter.

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

Oh geez. When I was 21 I worked at a local music venue. One night a girl passed out in a bathroom stall late into the night and nobody knew she was there. She woke up in that dirty, pitch black space and tripped the motion alarms. The police came in response to find this poor girl locked in the club! I can’t imagine how terrible that must have felt.

I suppose I didn’t exactly see it happen—but it still resonates with me as being the worst.

Name three reasons you live in Seattle.

My family and friends, the Seattle SuperSonics, and knowing bigfoot is out there…somewhere. I’d like to buy him and the Sonics a drink.


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