Behind the Bar

Five Questions for the Bartender: Michael Bertrand

Meet Mistralkitchen’s lead barman, a jazz drummer turned gin apostle with apparently excellent taste in ties (and shirts).

By Jessica Voelker September 6, 2011


White City, Oregon native Michael Bertrand moved to Seattle at age 18. The plan was to study jazz percussion at Cornish College. I dropped out and now I hate jazz music says Bertrand, who started supporting himself through retail jobs. Evenings, he’d belly up at Flowers Restaurant and Bar in the U-District, where he discovered his love of booze extended beyond the realm of consumption.

He became a bartender.

I was hired at Vessel, where my boss was Jim Romdall. Vessel closed, and then I was hired at Mistralkitchen by [former bar manager] Andrew Bohrer. There I am currently lead bartender.

Without further ado, five questions for Michael Bertrand.

What is the most underrated spirit?

I’m constantly creating ways to converse with customers about why and how gin is delicious and excellent in cocktails. You shouldn’t be scared of gin because you drank a bottle of Bombay Sapphire at a party in high school and woke up throwing up in the dirt.

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

Sun Liquor. I live a block away. If I actually venture outside my comfort zone: Rob Roy, Liberty, and Zig Zag. When Canon opens, there’s a good chance that it will be my favorite bar.

What drink do you order at that bar?

A Sazerac, but also Fernet or bourbon and a beer. Sometimes a glass of sparkling rose.

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

I’ve dealt with a lot of gross/crazy/weird situations in a bar (sex, puke), but the worst was when someone snuck into the back office and took our laptop and thousands of dollars worth of another employee’s camera equipment. That was one of the only times I’ve been sincerely upset about someone else’s actions while I was behind the bar.

Name three reasons you live in Seattle.

I live in Seattle for the art and culture, the people, and because it is home.

Show Comments