Behind the Bar

Five Questions for the Bartender: Chris Bollenbacher

The bar manager at Serafina makes his own infusions and rhapsodizes about rum.

January 26, 2010

Do you know Chris Bollenbacher? You should. He is the bar manager at Serafina and Cicchetti, two twinkling Eastlake eateries where the food is great, the atmosphere ridiculously romantic, and the owner smart enough to step away from the bar and let her talented ’tender do his thing.

Way before every bartender made his own tinctures and studied up on the history of cocktails, Bollenbacher was at it, quietly amassing homemade infusions along with has an intense amount of knowledge about booze. Together with former Serafina bartender Miles Thomas (Tavern Law, Toulouse Petit), he also owns Scrappy’s Bitters, a local line of bitters you’ll find at bars all around town.

Here, five questions for Chris Bollenbacher.

What is the most underrated spirit?

The most underrated spirit in my opinion is rum, with so many brands and styles it is in a world of its own. Any fine rum brings with it so much flavor from the sugar cane/molasses it’s made from that it creates beautiful lift in cocktails and causes subtle flavors to pop even more than gin does.

What’s your favorite Seattle bar (other than the one at Serafina)?

I enjoy imbibing at Zig Zag and Oliver’s Twist, but wherever there is a bar taking its cocktails seriously, I’ll be there.

What drink do you order at that bar?

I go for a Negroni or a Boulevardier (a Negroni with rye), I do love bitters so I’m also a sucker for a Manhattan made with a vintage Pedro Ximénez sherry and both Angostura and Scrappy’s chocolate bitters.

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

A man to who I had refused service returned hours— and many drinks—later to kick in the front window of the bar.

Name three reasons you live in Seattle.

Seattle really has that “port city” feel I enjoy; everyone is from different backgrounds and walks of life and it has quite a bit of hustle and bustle, yet it still has a down-home, sleepy side to it. There are incredible nature escapes in every direction and the whole area is a fishermen’s heaven (fishing is another passion of mine).

Show Comments