[Mark Marowitz is a special correspondent for the Museum of the American Cocktail, and recently chatted with Murray Stenson, of the Zig Zag Cafe in Seattle WA]
We, here at the MOTAC blog always strive for complete accuracy in what we write. Recently, we had cause to look-up the definition of the word bartender in the dictionary. The definition is Murray Stenson. Puzzled, we tried another dictionary and found the same definition. So, we set about finding Murray. It was easy. Murray is currently employed at the Zig Zag Cafe in Seattle. In fact, everything about Murray is easy. So, we nicknamed him "Easy" Murray Stenson. Murray is easy to talk with, easy to be around and easy to listen to. "Easy" Murray Stenson has been in the business for 30 years, is self-taught and a lifelong resident of Seattle. His inspiration was Al Black, a 70 year old bartender (30 years ago) working at the now defunct (original) El Gaucho Steakhouse in Seattle. What Murray observed watching Al was his effortless way of making his customers "feel at home". Murray feels that a bartender who mixes decent drinks and is hospitable is much more attractive than a whiz bartender making spectacular drinks but leaving something to be desired in their human interaction.
One of Murray’s favorite cocktails is the Manhattan. For Murray a Manhattan comes in two varieties, a summer Manhattan and a Winter Manhattan.
His winter Manhattan recipe is as follows:
- Rittenhouse 100 proof rye whiskey 5 parts
- Carpano Antica Formula sweet vermouth 1 part
- The Bitter Truth Aromatic bitters.
This in Murray’s words is a thick, velvety, comforting cocktail.
Murray’s summer Manhattan:
- Old Overholt rye whiskey 5 parts
- Martini & Rossi sweet vermouth 1 part
- Hermes Orange bitters.
Murray goes on to explain that this Manhattan is a lighter, more vibrant cocktail than his winter specialty.
We, here at the MOTAC office recommend that you drop what you’re doing, hop on a plane and visit Murray at the Zig Zag Cafe for lunch and a couple of cocktails.