Five Questions for the Bartender: Chelsea Anderson

Sun Liquor’s leading lady likes eating food and trying new beers. She doesn’t like naked dudes at the bar.

By Jessica Voelker December 2, 2010


The genius of Capitol Hill cocktail lounge Sun Liquor is that it serves great drinks but feels like a neighborhood bar. Perfect cocktails without an ounce of pretension mixed in? This is a rarity.

For the whole thing to work, Sun must be staffed with bartenders who are knowledgeable about their booze, but also kindly awesome people—people like Erik Chapman, and people like Chelsea Anderson, who moved to Seattle six years ago and made herself right at home.

Here are five questions for her.

What is the most underrated spirit?

I’ll give you two answers. I think vermouths (which strictly speaking are not spirits) are underrated in terms of what they can do for a cocktail, which is add depth, body and complexity.

But if, by underrated, you mean rarely used or ordered, then I would say brandy. I feel like it has a stuffy reputation and you don’t see a lot of younger drinkers ordering it.

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

I really like The Dray, it’s close to my house and always really chill. I can go there and be sure to have a beer that I’ve never heard of and fall in love. If I’m feeling like a cocktail, I like The Hideout. And the pitchers and deep-fried pickles at The People’s Pub steal my heart every time.

What drink do you order at that bar?

I like to try new things. I think it’s a lot more fun to order drinks or beers that I am unfamiliar with than sticking to the same thing every time. It’s always nice to finish the evening off with whiskey, however.

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

I was visiting my hometown a few years ago, and I went to a bar that was pretty busy—nothing crazy, but full. All of a sudden some guy strips down totally naked and starts running around the place, harassing customers, jumping up on top of a pool table. No one who worked there did anything about it. The two door people, bartender, and bar-back were all just laughing.

Finally the guy put his clothes back on and walked up to the bar, where the bartender high-fived him and then announced to the room that he would drink on the house for the rest of the night. The $1.50 gin and tonics I was drinking almost made being there worth it, but not quite.

Name three reasons you live in Seattle.

The food. Eating is one of my favorite things to do and this city is a great place to do it. When I first moved here I was lucky enough to discover La Carta de Oaxaca right away. I knew then that I was home.

The arts. There is always something to see here: a concert, play, dance, art show….It feels good to be so surrounded by things that inspire me, or make me think, or piss me off. This city has a great ongoing conversation about the arts.

The people that I love are here. The family that I have created for myself in the six years that I’ve been in Seattle make me feel at home.

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