Tacoma native Jonathan Hudak calls himself a “rookie bartender,” but he’s no industry newbie. Before tending bar at Jason Stratton’s Artusi he spent two years as lead server at Tilth, where he developed an appreciation for the interaction of food and wine, and eventually all beverages.
“I began to nerd out on cocktail blogs,” says Hudak. He started “reading old cocktail books, and visiting all the amazing Seattle bars. Then I began making bitters, collecting herbs and spices from all over.” He soon found himself ganking the cooks’ gadgets—immersion circulators, vacuum sealers—to prep his drinks. A sous vide machine was employed to create his custom limoncello.
When Tilth’s chef and owner Maria Hines decided her second restaurant, Golden Beetle, would be a cocktailcentric gastropub, Hudak was all over it.
“I learned so much in such a short period of time there, and soon took up the opportunity to work with Jason Stratton at Artusi.”
Here, five questions for Jonathan Hudak.
What is the most underrated spirit?
Grappa. At times it can burn, but there are so many different types of grappa from all over Italy ranging in styles and strength. In essence it is brandy, though it is much more dynamic and complex.
What’s your favorite Seattle bar (other than Artusi)?
Oliver’s Twist—Robert [Rowland] makes some mean drinks. I also like Rob Roy, Barrio, and Liberty.
What drink do you order at that bar?
I love bitter drinks, the more bitters the better. So when I’m not drinking my go-to rye old-fashioned, I order a Seelbach, a Pegu Club (heavy on the Angostura), or a Martinez, preferably made with Ransom Old Tom Gin, Dolin Rouge, and Scrappy’s Orange Bitters.
What’s the worst thing you’ve ever seen someone do in a bar?
I witnessed a beer bottle smashed over someone’s head while bar-backing at Ohana. An angry drunk man left Tilth and smashed our potted plants on the sidewalk. Another man, after having red wine spilled on him, removed his wine-stained pants and walked them up to the counter in his skimpy silver underwear to request that they be dry-cleaned….
Name three reasons you live in Seattle.
My family is nearby. The coffee is near perfect. And the quality of living here is astounding.
Find Hudak at Artusi Thursday through Friday evenings starting around five, and Saturday and Sunday from 7pm onward.