Behind the bar

Five Questions for the A Cocktail Chef: Cameo McRoberts

Cameo McRoberts is not a bartender, but that doesn’t mean she can’t make you a very good drink. Just don’t be snapping your fingers in her general direction.

July 7, 2010

Cameo McRoberts, not a bartender.

Working for Kathy Casey Studios, Alaska-native Cameo McRoberts (who—prepare to be impressed—was once sous chef to Rick TopChefMaster Bayless at Chicago’s Frontera Grill) creates plenty of cocktails, as well as bitters and syrups. But she’s careful not to call herself a bartender.

“Only because I know most of the bartenders in this series and they will make fun of me!” explains McRoberts.

“Coming from the kitchen I have a pretty strong knowledge of flavors and what pairs well,” she says. “As Kathy’s Executive Chef I work on tons of cocktail development with her and I put together all of our seminars. So in the past year I’ve had a crash course in cocktail culture, spirits, classic cocktails, cocktail history, and the whatnot.”

All I know is, she can make me a drink anytime—preferably using the amazing cherry bounce she keeps jarred up at the funtime cocktail lab she and Mrs. Casey call an office.

Here, five questions for cocktail chef Cameo McRoberts.

What is the most underrated spirit?

There is no bottle left uncorked in the cocktail world right now, it’s like a massive flavor unearthing. It’s really fun. Among the non spirit-geek crowd: definitely gin. It’s not the gin that hurts the next morning, it’s all the sugar in that tonic water! Good gin is like Dusty Springfield, sweet and gritty at the same time.

What’s your favorite Seattle bar?

The usual suspects: Rob Roy, Vessel, Zig Zag, Liberty, but the Ballard crawl is quite nice too: Moshi Moshi, Hazlewood, Oliver’s Twist (not Ballard, I know), and, as always, Sambar to finish.

What drink do you order at that bar?

Cocktail bars: anything the bartender wants to give me. Usually whiskey or gin-based. Everywhere else: shot of whiskey and glass of bitters and soda, with extra bitters.

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

My mom bartended in Alaska when I was younger so let’s just say I’ve seen some crazy stuff. Service-wide, I am not a fan of the snapping of the fingers.

Name three reasons you live in Seattle.

Proximity to the motherland (Alaska).

The water, the trees, the views—it really is breathtaking a lot of the time.

Seattle’s delicate balance of big pond/small pond, especially in the service industry.

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