This Tuesday, June 10th, surfs up at Bastille. The back bar is getting into the Tiki groove to launch Bridgetown Rum, the new collab between bartender Erik Carlson and Portland’s House Spirits. Savor roasted pig on the patio, tunes by The Verb, and cocktails shaken by Erik and his pal, House Spirits’ brand ambassador Brooke Arthur.
One of Seattle’s most revered mixologists, Erik Carlson is known for his innovative, well-balanced cocktails. I caught up with Erik to chat about bartending, booze, and his new rum; he even gave us a punch recipe to put us in the Polynesian spirit!
How did you start?
At 21, I moved to San Francisco from Seattle, where I was a food runner/bus boy. Eager to make a fresh start, I got a job bar-backing at Scala's Bistro at the famed Sir Francis Drake Hotel. Staffed by entertaining, old school dudes, like Tony Abou-Ganim, doing cool things with cocktails, I was hooked.
Tell me about your current gig:
I’m the bar manager at Stoneburner and Bastille. Like the hotels where I worked in SF (Clift, Sir Francis Drake), Stoneburner has a classic, cool vibe; though the place is fairly new, it feels timeless inside. You can find me behind the bar there 3-4 nights a week, often on Wed.-Fri.
What drinks are you mixing up there?
Food-friendly cocktails that pair with Chef Jason’s delicious cooking. My drinks are clean, flavorful, and approachable, not fussy. Like the chef, I take advantage of the Ballard Farmer’s Market right outside our door. I keep 3 seasonal shrubs rotating on the menu.
What is your favorite part of bartending?
The relationships: with customers, fellow bartenders, chefs, the community, and distillers. When I returned to Seattle to open up Moshi-Moshi 5 years ago, my first week was filled with local bartenders coming to welcome and check me out. The support was exciting and awesome.
What local distillers do you use?
Tell me about Bridgetown Rum
It’s a perfect mixing rum with notes of molasses, vanilla, and baking spices. The name refers to Barbados' capital and the bridges between Portland and Seattle and Brooke and I, two bartending friends. I love the wordplay that comes with naming drinks. It usually happens the night, er, morning before a menu opens during a 3am Wikipedia binge.
Break out the punch bowl for your summer bbq. Here’s a recipe for Erik’s Roman Punch:
1 oz House Spirits Bridgetown rum
.75 oz Landy VS Cognac
.75 oz earl grey tea
.75 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
.5 oz Small Hand Foods raspberry gum syrup http://smallhandfoods.com/store/index.php/raspberry-gum-syrup
.25 oz Pierre Ferrand Curaçao
1 bar spoon Batavia arrack
Measure ingredients in mixing tin, add ice, shake for 10 seconds & double strain into chilled cocktail glass.
-Garnish w/ fresh grated nutmeg