Behind the Bar

Five Questions for the Bartender: Ricardo Hoffman at Zig Zag

A rising star behind the bar who likes mezcal, Old Fashioneds, and customers who don’t dismantle toilets.

July 14, 2011


Ricardo Hoffman worked his way up. He was a busboy at Purple Cafe and Wine Bar when the restaurant’s parent company, Heavy Restaurant Group, opened Barrio, the cocktail-driven Mexican restaurant on Capitol Hill. He started there as a barback.

“After six months of hard work and relentless harassment of the bar staff and managers, they gave me the opportunity to prove myself as a bartender,” says Hoffman. He quickly became a known entity in the neighborhood, then moved on to Sun Liquor (the first one, on Summit Avenue) about a year ago. There, he became an even better-known entity.

A particularly prescient person once described an experience with Hoffman at Sun this way: “He could be the next Murray.” Prescient, because in May Hoffman was hired on at Zig Zag—he came aboard after Murray Stenson left. Hoffman currently works the service well at our city’s most storied cocktail bar.

Here, five questions for Ricardo Hoffman.

What is the most underrated spirit?

Mezcal, for mixing or just sipping on its own. It’s much more refined than most people give it credit for.

What’s your favorite Seattle bar (other than Zig Zag)?

Hands down, my favorite bar is Sun Liquor. Any drink you order—a beer, a shot, a fancy cocktail—is well made and served with genuine service. It’s a quintessential neighborhood bar.

What drink do you order at the bar?

I usually order the bartender’s choice variation on an Old Fashioned. It’s interesting to see how it varies in style with each bartender.

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

The weirdest thing I’ve experienced was dealing with an adult who had a temper-tantrum and dismantled the toilet and tore apart the bathroom.

Name three reasons you live in Seattle.

It’s clean and beautiful, there is great hiking all the way around, and it’s a foodie city with exceptional restaurants and fantastic bars.

Find Ricardo Hoffman at Zig Zag Tuesday through Thursday and again on Saturdays. If I were you, I’d ask for something with tequila in it.

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