Behind the bar

Five Questions for the Bartender: Mike McSorley

Do not threaten Bellevue’s fiercest cocktail competitor. He’s got weapons.

April 13, 2010


There’s a bar in Bellevue called Naga Cocktail Lounge, it’s attached to Chantanee Thai restaurant.

Behind that bar, two bartenders are making award-winning cocktails. Evan Martin’s punch just became the official cocktail of Tales of the Cocktail 2010, a massive drinks convention in New Orleans. And Mike McSorley, who is the bar manager over there at Naga, was the regional winner in the verybigdeal 42 Below World Cocktail Cup. And here’s a little-known fact about Mike McSorley: his homemade maraschino cherries will change your cocktail-making life. Guaranteed.

Here, five questions for Mike McSorley.

What is the most underrated spirit?
Well, there are many… but my current vote goes to aquavit. I’m working really hard to make it the new bartenders’ shot of Seattle (the way Fernet is in San Francisco). When frozen, it’s a really delightful shooter. It makes me think of drinking a slice of pumpernickel.

What’s your favorite Seattle bar (other than Naga)?
I can’t say the Zig Zag Cafe, or Vessel, or Naga, so I have to talk about my local: Snoose Junction part dieu on 105th and Greenwood. They have a vinyl menu, and will play an entire side of a record upon request. They also have a great selection of liquors, liqueurs, and absinthe. Happy hour isn’t bad either.

What drink do you order at that bar?
Manny’s Pale Ale and a whisk(e)y of some sort. Excellent bedfellows.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever seen someone do in a bar?
Threaten to jump over the bar and “teach me a lesson”. I promptly grabbed my fish billy club (which I use to crush ice) in one hand, and then grabbed my 7 1/2 inch Nakiri-style chef’s knife by Ryusen in the other. Needless to say, the customer in question did not stay around to see what I planned on doing with said items.

Scary. Name three reasons you live in Seattle.
I came to Seattle to go to college at the UW. I stayed here because I like how people relate to one another. I keep staying here because of my wonderful girlfriend.

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