— DUNCAN CHASE —
Bartender of the Month
1. Where are you from?
Born in Naugatuck, CT, I consider myself from New England having spent most of my youth in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. Attended Marietta College, Marietta, Ohio, graduated with a degree in Drama. Worked and lived in New York State, Connecticut, Dutch Harbor, AK and Seattle, WA. Whether or not I've grown up is subject to debate.
2. What is your experience of working behind the bar with Gosling’s Rums from Bermuda?
My personal favorite will always be a neat Gosling's Family Reserve Old Rum, life doesn't get much better. Among my favorite ways of introducing a bar guest to the joy of a really well made rum, is the Dark and Stormy, or a Gosling Black Seal Mojito. People find a whole new world of flavor, and it's fun to watch their faces.
3. What's the nutshell version of how you got into the restaurant industry? How long have you been at TASTE?
Been Bartending for about 13 years, the last 11/2 at TASTE. For most of my adult years I was an independent insurance adjuster, had a few other jobs in management. Bartending had always interested me, and I am a night person, so I decided to go to work in the restaurant industry.
4. How did you get into mixology?
That word has a lot of different meanings.
I became a bartender because the job always fascinated me, the mixology part just followed as my passion for the job grew.
From early on guests challenged me to provide them with something new either with a published recipe or my own creation. The flavor combinations in existing recipes can keep one busy for a life time, but it‘s fun to experiment. Hopefully I haven't caused too much guest suffering over the years. I've had very little formal education, however a couple mentors, books & magazines, plus the Seattle spirit/cocktail community makes knowledge readily available.
It helps that I love what I do. I've been called a Spirit Maven, and that is accurate, but also I use the term “booze geek”. I visit liquor stores and bars where ever I go, just to check out products.
5. What inspires your flavor combinations?
Since this question keeps coming up I've spent some time trying to figure it out. The simple, but confusing answer is anything and everything. Although there are no formal requirements to be a mixologist, anyone who carries the title should have a real good feel for most standard flavor combinations. In many cases you can tell how a drink will taste, just by knowing what’s in it.
The majority of my original cocktails are first created for specific guests. I usually have a few ideas in the back of my mind at any given time, but they come to life for a person across the bar.
6. What's your philosophy about cocktails?
First, if I may, bartending philosophy.
I don't serve customers, only guests.
It’s about the guest. They come to the restaurant for an experience. Although I'm considered a mixologist, I tend bar for a living. This means the guest having a bottled beer is every bit as important as the one that demands a custom, preparation intensive cocktail. The average guest doesn't care about anything I've done in the past, they care about their experience. The job is to make their experience the best possible.
Every night a bartender hosts a party, seeing to guests comfort, occasionally making introductions, most important making sure everyone is having a great time.
As to cocktails, it’s about balancing favors.
Follow the flavor, don't try and force it.
It’s also about whoever is drinking it.
Make the cocktail to the guest’s taste.
When creating drinks for a bar menu there are only two rules I know, presuming that only good tasting drinks need apply.
Is it affordable to the guest?
Can every member of the bar staff make it?
That’s the great thing about working with Gosling’s Rums behind the bar, not only are they affordable and of premium quality, the Dark ‘n Stormy is one of the easiest and tastiest cocktails of them all!
TASTE Restaurant @ the Seattle Art Museum
1300 1st Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101
List of All Bartenders