Veronika Groth left her post as Poppy’s longtime bar manager late last year to create the half-tiki, half-classic cocktail list for Pike/Pine newcomer Chino’s. What she learned along the way: She likes rum, but it isn’t the spirit that makes her toes curl.
“She beefed up on it for the tiki thing ,” says Chino’s owner Mari Tiscareno Lee. “But when it comes down to it, she really likes bitters.”
Today is Groth’s final day at Chino’s; tomorrow she moves a few blocks away to Artusi to join her former Poppy colleague Jason Stratton. She missed the deeper, richer flavors of spirits like amaro, she says. But Groth says she didn’t want to leave until she found just the right replacement for Chino’s, which opened in early December with a street food–inspired menu that’s Mexican and Taiwanese by way of Los Angeles.
She found him in Evan Martin, who, um, recently became available. Martin has spent the past week working with Groth and is planning to introduce his own cocktail menu. And this time it’s all tiki, all the time.
“We’re ready to do it, go full-on tiki,” says Lee. Martin’s background at places like Chantanee in Bellevue, makes him highly qualified to captain that switch. Seriously, the man created a riff on planter’s punch that was deemed the official drink of Tales of the Cocktail 2010. His list will blend tiki classics like the Mai Tai and Don the Beachcomber with some of Martin’s own tiki-inspired creations.
Meanwhile, Groth and Martin have been busy collaborating on a recipe for Seattle Met’s sold-out Bloody Mary showdown this Sunday. Groth plans to return to Chino’s for some guest bartending stints, and Lee pretty much rained down praise on the woman who inaugurated the restaurant’s well-regarded bar program. And now, Seattle has itself a full-on dedicated tiki menu. And another reason to drink at Artusi.
Side note: Hugo Kugiya’s Crosscut piece on Chino’s is definitely worth a read.