Behind Bars

Five Questions for the Bartender: Artusi's Adam Fortuna

"It was like deleted scenes from 'Kill Bill'—blood, glass, and roses in slow motion."

By James Ross Gardner September 16, 2013

Adam Fortuna behind the bar at Artusi

Adam Fortuna grew up in a suburb of Grand Rapids, Michigan, majored in economics in college (with sights set on actuary science—before realizing "how boring it was”), and bartended at a chef-owned bistro. He landed in Seattle in late 2009. In May 2011 he helped open the popular Capitol Hill corner bar Artusi, where he’s the bar manager.

Here, five questions for Adam:

What’s the most underrated spirit? This is a loaded question because I feel like every spirit is being utilized in some way or another throughout our many fine establishments in Seattle. I feel like vodka gets such a bad rap—quoting one of my colleagues, “It’s the tofu of the spirit world”—as it’s not going to add any flavor, but is the perfect neutral fortifying ingredient. I also dislike how under-utilized and mistreated vermouth is. It has such a vast difference in flavors and styles, brand to brand. 

What current cocktail trend is completely overrated? If I had to choose one: I’m not fully behind the whole barrel-aging thing. I think it’s unique and interesting, but I like my cocktails to be stiff and sharp, not soft and mellow. 

What is everyone ordering at Artusi these days? Negronis, forever and always. But guests were really excited about our summer slushy: Water Off a Duck's Back, with Smith and Cross rum, Strega, passion fruit nectar, lime, and long pepper.  

What bars do you  frequent when not at Artusi? Sun Liquor on Summit has a great staff, great drinks, and a low-key atmosphere. Quinn’s for a beer and a burger. Rumba because I’m secretly a rum-whore, and Kate and Connor are wonderful. I’ve also been known to sing (a lot) of karaoke, particularly at the Rock Box with Jason Stratton

What is the craziest thing you've seen happen in a bar? At the bar I worked at in college there was a run-of-the-mill bar fight between some college students and older locals. My fellow employees and I had just gotten everyone settled down when one of the college students grabbed a giant fishbowl full of rose petals off the bar and smashed it on a local's face. As it exploded it was like deleted scenes from Kill Bill—blood, glass, and roses in slow motion.  


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