Behind Bars

5 Questions for the Bartender: Bryce Sweeney of Woodblock

On the pleasures of drinking whiskey from an empty marrow bone.

By Stefan Milne June 2, 2016

Bryce sweeney hnknqe

Image: Jim Henkens

Liquids seem to dictate Bryce Sweeney's vocational and educational choices: certified in commercial diving and hyperbaric medicine, he's always returned to the bar industry—drawn to the "creativity and interaction with people"—and this has led him to sling libations everywhere from a Colorado sushi restaurant to a Caribbean yacht. Now he manages the bar at Woodblock, Redmond's new restaurant and craft cocktail bar with a big whiskey list

Here, a few questions for Bryce Sweeney.

How is the mood at Woodblock different from other bars in Redmond?

Woodblock is place where you would want to hang out. Most people tend to stay for a few drinks. More of an upbeat lively atmosphere. Younger people are heading to the Eastside. Especially with the tech crowd being out there, and property prices rising in Seattle so much. Woodblock gives people a different option, something that you’d find in Capitol Hill or Ballard.

What's your favorite drink and food pairing to recommend at Woodblock? 

Right now we have an awesome roasted bone marrow and a play on a Manhattan. A white summery Manhattan that’s made out of Westland Whiskey, which is out of SoDo in Seattle and a mancino bianco, which is a white vermouth from Italy, with grapefruit, orange bitters—light, summery but still has that whiskey punch. The bone marrow has mushrooms, truffle, bread, and we offer a whiskey shooter down the bone afterwards if people so choose to take it. It’s Slaughter House whiskey by Orin Swift. He's really well known for his wines. He ages the whiskey in a Bordeaux wine barrel. It has a red-wine finish that compliments the bone marrow. 

What's your go-to cocktail spot (aside from Woodblock)?

Bottle and the Bull over in Kirkland if you’re on the Eastside. Obviously Canon in Seattle is a great place. They’re really, really innovative, and they have a selection that very few bars can compare to.

What do you drink there?

I’m really into mezcal cocktails, so it’s interesting to see what other bartenders and establishments are doing with mezcal. My favorite at the moment is the Wahakan Word. It’s a play off a classic cocktail called the Last Word, which is typically made with gin, but it substitutes mezcal. It’s kind of an acquired taste, like drinking a smoky scotch, but on the tequila side of things.

What's the craziest thing you've seen in a bar?

People having sex and somebody ordering a drink while peeing underneath the bar at the same time.

Vital Bonus Question: What was the order?

Jack and Coke, or something. It was Aussie day.

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