Featured USBG Member: Andrew Friedman
Job title: Owner
Chapter: Seattle, Washington State Chapter
Place of business: Liberty
Time spent bartending: 8+ Years
Total time in industry: 20+ Years
Favorite job you ever had:
Easily my favorite job was as a cook at a small restaurant in the East End of Long Island, about a million years ago. The restaurant, hilariously called ‘The Quiet Clam’ was; as you’d expect, a seafood restaurant, and describing it quaint as hell would probably be a good way to describe it. There were those fake crab pots as part of the restaurant motif of this long-running family-run business, led by a great guy, an ex-fisherman captain named Ira. Why was this my favorite job? So ingrained in my experience there was the constant reminder to always do your best. Do your best. Don’t take shortcuts, don’t half-ass it. Within whatever constraints that you have, always do the best job that you can.
And, the soft-shelled clams. Ooooooh. Man were those good. I miss those clams.
If I’m sitting around at a bar, I tend to drink sprits neat. And, these days, I tend to be drinking mezcal. I don’t know how this has happened, but I have seemingly turned my back on Japanese & American Whisk(e)y (which was the focus of Liberty, for a long, long time) and have embraced mezcal. Put a glass in front of me with it neat, put it in a cocktail – I’ll just say thank you. And, Sazeracs, also. I loves me a great Sazerac.
That’s a long list. Off the top of my head, most noteworthy are The Brandy Library & Pegu Club in NYC due to the fact that the service is so outstanding, and the options there for spirits and cocktails are amongst the best in America. In LA, Cole’s has become one of the best bars in America, in my opinion. Here in Seattle, Canon is just ridiculous. The staff is outstanding, the spirits selection? Beyond any measure of sane. Also great in Seattle is Barrio. Head Bartender Casey Robison is one of America’s greats – his drinks are so damned good, and he’s such a great representative of what a great bartender should be. Past that, I’ve never been to OKRA – Charity Bar in Houston. A Charity Bar. The idea is so great as to confound me with the greatness of the people, led by Bobby Huegel. Well done. Someone buy that guy a drink.
Where did you grow up, and what was it like there?
Growing up in a suburb of Cleveland, it was easy to forgive & forget (sorry Cleveland USBG chapter).
What do you like best about what you do?
The people. I dig when someone unsuspecting comes in and has a totally & surprisingly outstanding experience. Off the top of my head, I remember a day when a big-deal M$FT person came in with the head of some Sony department, and I took them through a Japanese whisky tasting that blew even the Japanese dude’s mind. THAT was pretty cool. Highrollers gett’n scholled by a dude in a hoodie. We do that all the time, and it’s pretty great.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Teaching about all things spirits, cocktails & service. We do a training every Tuesday for our staff, and it’s great to see them take that info and make it work within their schema, watch their pass it on to their customers, and then watch they in turn, passing on that info to their friends. That’s pretty great. That, and also how we’re an industry bar – it’s very rewarding to design a bar to hang out with people from different bars and hear about the madness that was their day.
What do you do to relax outside of work?
Wife, baby, TV & mezcal. Not necessarily in that order.
Back to Oaxaca for me. Or, some tiny island that is slowly disappearing from the Pacific.
Advice you could offer to others:
Resist the ego. Service first. Startender attachment is a step backwards in our evolution. Bartend until you don’t want to do it any longer, then, quickly move on to whatever else you love to do. Life’s way, way way too short to otherwise waste your time.
Who do you look up to?
My dead friend David. What a great source of inspiration of the total release of the ego and how much better life is once one figures that out.
What does the future hold for you?
Another bar (any week now), along with my brand Industry Spirits, which, while having already for sale on a limited basis for a number of years now, will be available in the near future for more widespread sales. I’m pretty stoked about the future.
If you’re ever in Seattle, please do not hesitate to say hello. We love to have guesttenders at the bar, so please let me know if you’re in the neighborhood.